Detention was a new experience for Adagio. She had heard of it, of course, the nature of her magic made sure of that, but to be sent there herself was unprecedented. It wasn’t as if she’d never caused any trouble – quite the opposite, in fact – but back then she’d at least had the good sense not to get caught.
Word of Adagio’s encounter with Fleur had spread like wildfire among the students of Crystal Prep, and, true to Sugarcoat’s prediction, Adagio’s reputation was suffering for it. Already she’d received dark looks as she passed through the halls, as well as one or two obscene gestures from some of the more disgruntled students, though not one of them had had the backbone to say anything to her face. Pathetic, but not entirely unexpected.
Any attention is better than no attention, she reminded herself, though this time she wasn’t sure if she believed it.
Adagio looked up, pulled from the mire of her thoughts by Sugarcoat’s voice. After they had left the gym she had offered to walk with Adagio to the detention room, and considering how the gym teacher had whisked Fleur away without providing any more details on her punishment, it wasn’t exactly an offer Adagio could refuse.
“A classroom?” said Adagio, placing her hands on her hips. “I expected something more draconic – a dungeon, perhaps. This seems awfully tame for Principle Cinch.”
Sugarcoat merely stared at her, though a more accurate description of the act might have been ‘squinted’ at her. As it turned out, Sugarcoat’s glasses had been far more than just a fashion statement, and without them the girl was very nearly blind. It had fallen to Adagio to pull her out of the way of more than one oncoming student, and even now, as close as they were, it was clear that Sugarcoat could barely see her.
“Are you ready to go inside?” asked Sugarcoat, grasping for the doorknob. She managed to find it on her second try.
Adagio frowned. “Look, I appreciate you showing me the way here, but I think I can manage the punishment part of this on my own. Don’t you have something better to do?”
Sugarcoat shook her head. “I have plenty of better things to do, but the reason I walked you here is because I have detention, too. It made sense to walk together because we were both going to the same place.”
“Wait,” said Adagio, cocking an eyebrow, “you have detention?”
She nodded again.
“What did you do?”
For a moment, it looked like Sugarcoat was going to answer her, but after a long pause she turned back towards the door. “Come on,” she said, “we shouldn’t be late.”
As they stepped into the classroom, Adagio was surprised to learn that she was already acquainted with two of the room’s four other occupants. Indigo Zap leaned back precariously in her chair with one foot resting on the desk before her. A few seats away sat a familiar girl sporting a pink ponytail and cheeks dotted with freckles. Adagio couldn’t remember her name, but she was certain that this was the girl she and the other Sirens had skipped in the shower line on her first day.
With her temper, I suppose I don’t have to wonder why she’s in here.
Adagio didn’t recognize either of the other two girls, one had short purple-and-pink hair and wore a brilliant orange hairclip, and the other had a mop of bright green hair that bobbed up and down to the beat of the thunderous music booming from her headphones.
Three of them looked up as Adagio and Sugarcoat entered (the other girl was either too deafened by her music to hear, or simply didn’t care).
“Sugarcoat, what happened to your glasses?” asked Indigo Zap. She took her foot off the desk and allowed the front legs of her chair to strike loudly against the floor as she leaned forward, pointing an accusatory finger at Adagio. “She didn’t trip you, too, did she?” Adagio supposed it was too much to ask for the news not to have followed her to detention, too.
“No,” said Sugarcoat, taking a seat at the front of the class. “They fell off after Fleur knocked me over and someone stepped on them.”
Indigo Zap looked from Sugarcoat to Adagio. “I’d tell you to do something about it, but it looks like someone else beat you to the punch. So, Dazzle, why’d you do it?”
Adagio’s eyes narrowed. She didn’t respond.
“Don’t be like that, Fleur had it coming, but you couldn’t have waited until after the game tonight? We have a reputation to uphold!”
“So I’ve heard,” growled Adagio through gritted teeth.
“Indigo Zap used to be the captain of the basketball team, until she got kicked off.”
“I wasn’t kicked off, Sugarcoat, I was suspended!” snapped Indigo Zap. Sugarcoat shrugged. “Then they went and made Fleur captain – she’s not even that good! – and now that she’s out, too, they’re scrambling to find someone to make up the numbers. I heard there’s some sort of ‘emergency tryout’ going on in the gym. That’s where I should be right now, not stuck in here with you girls!”
She balled her fists, and for a split-second Adagio thought she might flip her desk over, but instead she let out a long, frustrated sigh. “Whatever, they’ll figure out how much they need me eventually. Anyway, Dazzle, you’ve met me and Sugarcoat, over there are Sunny Flare and Sour Sweet–”
“We’ve met,” hissed Sour Sweet venomously. Sunny Daze scowled right along with her.
“–and in the back, is Lemon Zest. Don’t bother trying to talk to her, she can’t hear a word we’re saying.”
Lemon Zest’s head bobbed obliviously.
“Congratulations, you’re the newest member of the ‘Crystal Prep Academy Breakfast Club.’”
Adagio raised an eyebrow.
“Except we’re not here at breakfast time, making that reference not only dated but inaccurate,” said Sugarcoat. Her hand moved to adjust her missing glasses, but stopped halfway.
Indigo Zap shrugged. “Whatever, point is she’s stuck here, just like the rest of us.”
Their discussion was cut short as the classroom door opened once more, and a tall, well-dressed man with a thick moustache entered. Adagio recognized him to be her History teacher, Professor Blackboard.
“Alright girls, settle down and take a seat. Miss Zest, turn off that infernal music.” But Lemon Zest neither heard him nor acknowledged his presence. Irritation spread quickly across the professor’s features, and without further warning he walked briskly through the rows of desks and snatched the headphones off her head.
“Dude!” cried Lemon Zest indignantly, the color draining from her face when she realized who it was that had interrupted her. “…Do you want to listen?” she asked sheepishly.
Professor Blackboard scoffed, giving her a condescending look before switching off the headphones and returning to the front of the classroom. “It appears we have a new addition to our ranks,” he said, looking directly at Adagio. “I hope, for your sake, that this is a one-time occurrence, frequency of detention is directly reflected in college acceptance rates. That being said, the rules here are simple: no talking, no electronics, you are to sit and consider the actions that led to your being here. You will be dismissed in one hour, starting now.”
Silence fell over the classroom. Adagio’s eyes fell first on Professor Blackboard, passed over each of the other girls in turn, and finally came to rest staring down at the desk before her.
This was stupid. What was there to think about? Yes, she’d tripped Fleur, but it wasn’t her fault that she’d broken her wrist. Done, contemplation over. She glanced up, her gaze lingering for a moment on the back of Sugarcoat’s head.
So, Sugarcoat was in detention. The initial shock behind her, Adagio vaguely recalled something she’d said the day they first met… something to do with ‘insubordination’ at the Friendship Games.
The Friendship Games, thought Adagio. Cadance had mentioned them, too, albeit in passing. She’d said that Twilight was somehow involved in Crystal Prep’s unsatisfactory performance, and now that she thought about it she’d heard them mentioned somewhere else, too. She looked back at Sour Sweet, who stared back at her icily. Of course! When they’d had their encounter in the shower line, someone had accused Sour Sweet of throwing the Friendship Games! She hadn’t given it much consideration at the time, but now things seemed to be falling into place.
Adagio closed her eyes, wracking her brain. If Sugarcoat was being punished for her role in the Friendship Games – and Adagio was fairly certain she was – it wasn’t out of the question that Sour Sweet was, too. What about the other girls? Were they all here because of something that had happened at the Games? And what about Twilight?
Adagio was so deep in her own thoughts that she didn’t look up at the sound of the door opening.
Indigo Zap had lost her position as captain of the basketball team. Was it possible that–
Principle Cinch’s stiff voice cut through the silence like a knife. Adagio felt her skin crawl at the sight of her standing ominously in the doorway.
“Come with me, please,” she said, her voice betraying nothing of what was going on behind her cold eyes. “Take your bag, you won’t be returning here.”
Adagio’s mouth was suddenly dry. She gathered up her backpack and wordlessly followed Principle Cinch out of the classroom, feeling the burning gaze of the other girls as she walked. Principle Cinch closed the door behind them, and beckoned for Adagio to follow her.
“There is a rumor, Miss Dazzle, that you tripped one of your fellow students, leaving them quite injured as a result. There wouldn’t happen to be any truth to that, would there?”
“No,” lied Adagio. “She wasn’t watching where she was going, tripped, and fell down. I just happened to be standing there when it happened.”
Abacus Cinch’s eyes bore into Adagio, searching for any hint of falsehood. Adagio kept her breathing steady, met her gaze, and prayed that the principle couldn’t hear the rapid pounding of her heart. After what felt like an eternity, Abacus Cinch nodded, produced a handkerchief, cleaned her glasses, and placed them back on the bridge of her nose.
“Very well. Whatever the case may be, we were successful in finding a suitable replacement in time for the game tonight. The reputation of this school – my reputation – is no longer in jeopardy.
“Your story is consistent with the report I received about the incident. You see, Miss Dazzle, I have no interest in unsubstantiated claims or accusations that cannot be supported with facts. But rest assured, should evidence come to light that you purposely assaulted Fleur de Lis – or any other student, for that matter – I would not hesitate to have you removed. But that won’t be a problem, will it?”
Adagio shook her head.
“Good. Now, you still have plenty of work to catch up on, is there anything else you wish to discuss before I allow you to return to it?”
“Yes, actually,” said Adagio. The words had come out before she could stop herself. “Those other girls – why were they in detention?”
Principle Cinch regarded her with an unreadable expression. “As I have told you before, Miss Dazzle, I reward loyalty and excellence, but I do not tolerate treachery or failure. Those girls have forgotten what it truly means to be a Shadowbolt, and for that they are paying the price. I trust that is enough to satisfy your curiosity?”
“It is,” said Adagio. She had been hoping for something to shed light on the mystery of the Friendship Games, but Cinch’s response lead her to believe she was already pushing her luck. She decided to quit while she was ahead.
“Good, then I shall leave you here. Have a productive day, Miss Dazzle.”
Adagio waited until the clicking of the principle’s heels was not but a distant memory before she risked breathing a sigh of relief. Principle Cinch had believed her – or, more likely, had been willing to accept her story. She was safe for another day.
Taking a moment to get her bearings, Adagio found that her walk with Cinch had led her right to Dean Cadance’s door. Convenient, she thought. She raised a hand to knock on the door, paused, switched to her unbandaged hand, and continued the motion.
“Come in,” came Cadance’s voice from inside, muffled by the thick wooden door. Adagio entered.
Cadance’s office might not have been as large as that of Abacus Cinch, but it was a great deal more inviting. Certificates hung on the walls alongside a plethora of framed pictures, some depicting Cadance in a variety of poses and locales, though never without her glowing smile, and others portraying a collection of other, smiling people. Cadance’s friends and family, Adagio assumed. There was a large wooden shelf on one side of the room, packed with books and colorful trinkets, and even Cadance’s filing cabinets were decorated with a plethora of stickers and magnets. Her desk struck a careful balance between messy and organized, and a pair of comfortable chairs sat before it, identical to the one Cadance herself sat in on the other side. The blinds on the room’s singlular large window were pulled back, bathing the room in warm, welcoming sunlight.
“Adagio,” said Cadance, “take a seat, I’ve just got to finish this email and then we can go.”
Adagio studied Cadance closely. There was something about her voice, its usual enthusiasm, while not entirely absent, felt dampened, and her normally effortless smile felt forced and mechanical. Not knowing how to react, Adagio quietly took her seat.
“There,” said Cadance, standing up and straightening her skirt, “done. Are you ready to go?”
There was that strained smile again. “Yeah,” said Adagio uncertainly. “I forgot your umbrella, sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll get it tomorrow.”
Adagio stepped out of the office and Cadance locked the door, then the two of them began the trek to Cadance’s car. There was no small talk between them, though Adagio occasionally caught Cadance looking at her when she thought she wasn’t paying attention. This continued well into their drive to the library, until finally things came to a head at a red light when their eyes met in the reflection of Cadance’s rear-view mirror.
“Is there something you want to ask me?” asked Adagio. She did her best to hide the irritation in her voice.
Cadance hesitated. “I… I heard you got in trouble at school today.”
So that was it. Cadance wanted to know the truth, and Adagio found herself at a crossroads. Cadance had been kind to her, had helped her, but what would happen if Cadance found out what kind of person she was? The kind of person who would trip some and watch as they writhed on the floor. Would she turn her in? Principle Cinch had cited a lack of evidence, but surely the word of the Dean would mean something, right?
But at the same time, the idea of lying to Cadance sat poorly with Adagio. But was it worth putting her entire future at risk just for the sake of telling Cadance the truth?
Adagio sighed. “A girl, Fleur, tripped up in front of me in gym class. Everyone thought I tripped her and I got detention. But it’s fine, I talked to Principle Cinch and worked everything out.”
Cadance was still staring into the reflection of her eyes. Suddenly uncomfortable, Adagio adjusted her position and looked out the window.
She’d done it, she’d lied to Cadance.
“Okay,” said Cadance.
“Okay?” asked Adagio.
“If that’s what happened,” said Cadance.
“It is,” replied Adagio. She crossed her arms.
The remainder of the car ride passed in relative silence. It wasn’t until they were pulling up in front of the library that Cadance broke the silence one more.
“I almost forgot,” said Cadance, trying her best to sound like her usual, upbeat self, “I got you these.” She reached into her purse and extracted two items: a phone, and a bus card. “School policy says that each student gets exactly one phone on the school’s plan, so try not to lose or break it! And I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but since the phone is in the school’s name, they will have access to any incoming or outgoing messages – that isn’t to say anyone is spying on you or anything, we respect your privacy! – just don’t send anything…”
Adagio raised an eyebrow and Cadance shifted uncomfortably.
“…Never mind. Don’t forget to ask Twilight about bus routes if you two are going to keep doing this. She used to come here from Crystal Prep all the time so I’m sure she has them memorized.”
“Okay,” said Adagio. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” said Cadance. The two shared another long look.
“Well, I’ve got to get going.”
“Alright, see you later.”
Adagio stepped out of the car and began her silent ascent of the library’s steps. An hour ago she’d been proud of what she’d done. Sure, things had gotten a little out of hand, but she’d stood up for Sugarcoat – she’d punished Fleur! It wasn’t her fault that Fleur didn’t know how to fall properly. But now she felt the oh so familiar hollowness and tightening of the knot in her stomach.
It wasn’t my fault, she told herself.
But that wasn’t what was bothering her. It wasn’t Fleur’s face that stared back at her from the shadows cast by the afternoon sun, but a dark facsimile of Dean Cadance, mouthing words that she hadn’t spoken but Adagio had heard loud and clear:
“Adagio Dazzle, I’m so disappointed in you.”
“Is something the matter, Adagio? You seem distracted.”
Adagio looked up from her textbook to find the concerned face of Twilight Sparkle looking back at her. In order to escape the nagging doubts that had plagued her mind since she’d parted ways with Cadance, Adagio had thrown herself into her studies. At first, Twilight had been all for this, but as time went on and Adagio had become more and more withdrawn, she had realized something was wrong.
“Nothing’s the matter,” lied Adagio, “I’m just, you know, studying really hard.”
“Uh-huh,” said Twilight skeptically, and before Adagio knew what was happening, Twilight had snatched the textbook away from her and held it tightly to her chest.
“Hey– Twilight Sparkle, what do you think you’re doing? I was reading that!”
Twilight put on her best look of defiance. “Oh yeah?” she asked, “Then tell me, what’s this page about?”
Adagio paused, drawing a blank, and quickly made up an excuse. “I just got to that one, I haven’t read it yet.” Twilight stared at her and flipped to the previous page. Adagio let out a defeated groan. “Fine, I’m distracted, are you happy now?”
“No, I’m not happy,” said Twilight, loosening her grip on the textbook. “Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong? Maybe I can help.”
“You, help me? Don’t make me laugh.”
Twilight wilted, drawing away from Adagio and looking down at the floor, her eyes glistening. Adagio felt a peculiar sensation in her chest, something someone else might have considered a harsh tug at their heartstrings. It was an entirely new experience for Adagio, and she didn’t like it – not one bit.
She sighed. “I’m sorry, Twilight Sparkle, I didn’t mean that,” she said quietly.
“It’s okay,” said Twilight.
“No, it isn’t okay,” said Adagio, “you were trying to help and I snapped at you.” She took a deep breath. “Fine, I’ll tell you, even if it means you’ll think less of me for it.”
“I won’t think less of you,” said Twilight. She leaned in a little closer.
“We’ll see,” said Adagio. Later, she would think back to this conversation and wonder why she’d been so honest and open with Twilight. She would tell herself that it had all been part of the plan, to endear herself to Twilight and ensure her help was secured for the foreseeable future. But the truth, as it usually is, was much simpler: lying to Cadance had been hard, but lying to Twilight… In that moment, it was impossible.
“I saw a girl knock over another girl. It wasn’t an accident, she dropped her shoulder and took her down, hard. And, for some reason, it made me angry. Really angry. I knew the girl wasn’t going to do anything about it, so I stepped in – literally. I tripped her, she fell down, and she got hurt. That wasn’t an accident, either.”
“Was she okay?”
“Either of them.”
“The first one broker her glasses, but she was okay. The girl I tripped broke her wrist.”
“It wasn’t as if I wanted her to break her wrist! I just thought she’d fall on her face, you know, give her a taste of her own medicine.”
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” said Twilight, frowning.
“But isn’t justice blind?” retorted Adagio. Twilight didn’t respond. “What else was I supposed to do? Just let her get away with it?”
“No, but there are other ways – ways that don’t involve hurting people.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt her.”
“I know,” said Twilight. She paused, taking a breath. “But just because we don’t mean for something to happen, doesn’t mean we give up all responsibility for it when it does.”
Adagio watched Twilight closely. “You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”
“We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. I used to be terrified of the darkness I felt inside of me – afraid that it would take over. I let that fear control me, and it wasn’t until I realized that the darkness was a part of me – a part of me that I could overcome – that I was truly free of it.”
Darkness. What did Twilight Sparkle know of darkness? If she had any idea of the things Adagio had done… and yet there was something honest her expression as she spoke, and her words – free of hyperbole and tinged with regret – rang true.
“Alright, Twilight Sparkle,” said Adagio, “what would you have me do?”
Twilight put her hand on her chin thoughtfully. “Have you tried talking to Dean Cadance?”
Adagio slumped her shoulders. “I might have told her that I didn’t do it.”
Twilight looked puzzled. “You lied to her?”
“I stuck to my story. I’m already on probation–”
“–doesn’t matter. It means I’m on thin ice, and a screw up like this could have had me thrown out on the street, everything I’ve worked for down the drain.” Adagio’s hands balled into fists. “So yes, I lied to her.”
“Do you really think Cadance would have you thrown out?”
“I had to protect myself,” said Adagio, reflexively. Twilight crossed her arms. “Besides, I don’t think she believed me, anyway. She kept giving me this disappointed look, kind of like the one you’re giving me right now. I can’t get it out of my head.”
Twilight stood up from her chair. “I’m not disappointed in you, Adagio, I’m worried about you.” She circled around the table until she was face to face with Adagio, propping herself up against the table. “You asked me what I think you should do, I think you should start by telling Cadance the truth.”
Adagio scoffed. “But then she’ll know I lied to her.”
“You said it yourself that you didn’t think she believed you. Cadance wants to help you, Adagio, but she can’t do that if you don’t tell her the truth.”
“And what if she thinks I’m a monster for what I did?”
Twilight leaned in again. They were close now, so close that Adagio could and touch Twilight’s face if she wanted. “You’re not a monster,” said Twilight softly.
Oh, if only you knew, Twilight Sparkle, thought Adagio, but deep in her heart she knew Twilight was right. Cadance had been a valuable asset to her, and she had to act quickly to repair the damage she’d caused before that asset was lost to her forever.
But that was just another lie, wasn’t it? She was being honest with Twilight, so why was it so hard to be honest with herself?
“Alright, Twilight Sparkle, we’ll do it your way. I’ll tell her the truth.”
Twilight smiled, and Adagio felt the knot in her stomach loosen ever so slightly. “I’m glad to hear it.” She rested her hands on the table, only to immediately recoil away. “Oh, sorry, I almost leaned on your phone!”
“Careful,” said Adagio, “I already have to tell Cadance I lied to her, I don’t want to have to tell her I broke the phone she got me, too. Especially since I haven’t even turned it on yet.”
“Really?” Twilight examined the phone from its position on the table, then turned back to Adagio. “I could help you set it up, if you want. You know, get the settings right, download some apps…” She bit her lip and averted her gaze. “I have one condition though.”
Adagio cocked an eyebrow. “And that is?”
“I get to peel the plastic off the screen.”
Adagio blinked, then laughed. “Seriously?” she asked in disbelief.
Twilight flushed and refused to meet Adagio’s eyes. “It’s the best part,” she mumbled, tapping the tips or her index fingers together.
“Twilight Sparkle, what am I going to do with you?” Adagio asked, playfully. “If it’s that important to you… go ahead.”
Twilight didn’t need to be told twice. She snatched the phone off the table and held it before her eyes. Carefully, she took hold of the little plastic tab between her index finger and thumb. Then, slowly and purposefully, she began to peel the thin sheet of plastic away from the glass screen of the phone. Adagio had to admit, it was oddly satisfying to watch, but Twilight took satisfaction to another level. The girl was positively trembling with exultation, and Adagio found herself paying more attention to her than the device she was holding.
After an inordinate amount of time had passed, Twilight had finally finished her task. She moved to discard the now useless plastic, only to have it cling stubbornly to her hand. It took several seconds of flailing to finally dislodge the piece of debris, which drifted harmlessly onto the table. Adagio did her best to hide her amusement behind her hand.
“What?” said Twilight, turning an even deeper shade of red and tucking a few strands of loose hair behind her ear.
“Nothing,” said Adagio with a sly grin. “Now, a deal is a deal, show me how to set this thing up.”
Twilight patted the spot on the table next to her and beckoned Adagio over. For both of them to have a good view of the small screen, they had to sit quite close together. Adagio found that it wasn’t uncomfortably close, but she was acutely aware of the occasional brush of skin when their elbows would touch, and a faint floral scent that Adagio could only attribute to Twilight’s conditioner. Lavender, she thought, though she couldn’t be sure.
The initial setup itself was fairly uninteresting, though Twilight’s endearing enthusiasm made it at least somewhat tolerable. From there they moved on to installing apps, and despite Twilight’s instance that several of them were ‘absolutely mandatory,’ Adagio talked her into settling on just one, a program that displayed the local bus routes and overlaid them onto a map of the area.
“Alright,” said Twilight, “now all we have to do is fill out your contact list and we’re done. Do you have any numbers you want to put in?”
Adagio shrugged. “Not really.”
Twilight frowned. “Well, that’s rather anticlimactic.” She paused, and a slight blush crept back into her cheeks. “Well, I mean, if you wanted, we could, you know, put my number in. You could ask me questions about the curriculum and we could coordinate without having to go through Cadance – not that I don’t like going through Cadance, it would just simplify things. But if you don’t want to–”
Adagio held up a hand to silence her babbling. “Twilight Sparkle, just put your number in my phone before you talk me into changing my mind.”
Twilight smiled, and with practiced speed began entering her contact information into Adagio’s phone. “I remember adding my first contact to my phone,” she said as she typed, her voice filled with nostalgia. “It was my brother, and I don’t think he appreciated all the confirmation texts I sent him, which is kind of funny because these days he gets worried when I don’t text him.
“Now, one last thing.” She pressed the phone into Adagio’s hands. “Take my picture.”
“For the contact list! Come on, it will only take a second.”
Adagio rolled her eyes, but none the less did as she was told. She stood up and put a little distance between them in order to get Twilight in frame (and, in doing so, nearly backed into the doorknob). She held up the phone, realized the camera wasn’t open, and began swiping through menus hunting for it.
“It’s the icon that looks like a camera,” said Twilight.
“I know what it looks like – there we go, got it.” She lifted the phone up and watched as it automatically focused on the form of Twilight Sparkle seated on the study room table.
“Just a sec,” said Twilight, adjusting her skirt. She proceeded to remove her glasses and began to clean them with the hem of her shirt, the tip of her tongue poking out the side of her mouth as she worked. It was too much, and before Twilight realized what she was doing, Adagio snapped the photo. And she would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for the audible click of a simulated shutter.
“Hey!” cried Twilight. “I wasn’t ready!”
“Relax,” said Adagio, examining her handiwork, “you have nothing to worry about, it’s perfect.”
“It is? Well, umm, I guess it’s okay then.” A brief moment of silence fell over them. Twilight cleared her throat. “Okay, now all you have to do is send me a text, so I can put your number in my phone, and we’ll be done.”
Adagio took a second to think, typed ‘Hi’ into the text field, and hit send. A few more seconds passed before Twilight’s phone heralded the arrival of the text by vibrating twice in quick succession. Twilight picked it up.
Adagio fidgeted in place. “You’re standing four feet away from me, what was I supposed to say?” Twilight just smiled and typed something into the display. Adagio’s own phone began to vibrate (she nearly dropped it in surprise), and a notification told her she had one unread message from Twilight Sparkle.
It said ‘Hi.’
Another buzz, this time from Twilight’s phone. “Did you–” she began, before cutting herself off. “Oh, it’s from Cadance. She’s outside.”
The apprehension that had been steadily fading out of Adagio’s consciousness while they’d set up her phone was back with a vengeance, and Adagio began to quietly gather her things.
“It’s going to be alright,” said Twilight. She must have sensed her shift in demeanor. Adagio nodded.
“I hope so.”
The sun hung low in the sky as Adagio exited the Canterlot Public Library, painting the city skyline red as it began to set. Another day, Adagio might have found it beautiful, but with her task at hand weighing heavily on her mind she barely took notice.
She heard the distinctive click of electric locks as she approached Cadance’s car. She took hold of the handle on the passenger’s side, hesitated, then pulled. Inside sat Cadance, no longer dressed in her work clothes but still wearing the same not-smile as she had that afternoon.
“How’d it go?” she asked. It might even have sounded cheerful if Adagio didn’t know better. She had to do it now, as she knew that if she waited any longer she would surely lose her nerve.
“Cadance,” she said, steeling herself for what she had to say. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Cadance must have been taken aback by her directness, as she finally allowed her ‘smile’ to fade. “What is it?” she asked.
Adagio worked her jaw, but nothing came out. It was as if her mouth was filled with cotton. Panic began to creep in at the edges of her mind. What was she doing? Cadance might have been nice to her, but she was still the Dean. She would have to report what Adagio did, which would give Principle Cinch the justification she needed to kick her back out onto the streets. Had she crawled her way back from the brink, only to be cast back in? Cadance’s brow furrowed as she awaited Adagio’s response. But what would she say? Cadance had seen through her lie before, what would stop her now? This was it, it was over, everything was collapsing in on itself and–
It’s going to be alright. Twilight’s words reverberated in her head, silencing the whirlwind panicked voices. Adagio took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and released it. She looked Cadance straight in the eyes.
And so she told the truth. She told her about Sugarcoat, about how she’d seen her in the nurse’s office and about how she’d confronted her in their shared room. She told her about how she’d watched the altercation between Sugarcoat and Fleur, and about how angry it made her to watch Sugarcoat get hurt.
And she told her about how, with a decision made in a split second, she’d hurt Fleur de Lis.
For her part, Cadance sat quietly and listened to what Adagio had to say. It felt as if she’d been talking for hours, and by the end her voice was hoarse and cracking. But she didn’t stop. If she stopped she wouldn’t be able start again, so she kept talking until, finally, she’d said everything she needed to say.
“So, that’s it. I’m sorry for lying to you, Cadance, I just didn’t know what else to do.”
Cadance studied her for a long time, her expression impenetrable, until eventually she spoke. “Why didn’t you think you could talk to me about this?” she asked.
“I didn’t want to get in trouble,” said Adagio. She hung her head. “At least, that’s what I thought, anyway. But more than that, I think I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“Afraid of disappointing you. But then I went and did it anyway.”
She felt Cadance’s hand on her shoulder. “Adagio,” said Cadance, “what you did was wrong. You acted out, and as a result someone got hurt. You understand that, right?”
“I do,” said Adagio. She tried to turn away, but found that Cadance’s grip tightened ever so slightly, not enough to hurt, but enough to keep her in place. Adagio was certain she could have shrugged it off if she wanted, but she didn’t.
“Good. We can discuss the situation with Fleur de Lis and Sugarcoat later, but first there’s something that I need to tell you.” Her voice softened. “Whatever happens, no matter how bad you think it is, I don’t want you to ever, ever, think you can’t talk to me about it. Okay?”
“Okay,” said Adagio.
“And next time you see someone getting pushed around in the halls, in the gym, or anywhere else, you don’t take matters into your own hands. You come straight to my office, got it?”
“I’m here to help you, Adagio, that goes for all the students at Crystal Prep. But I can’t do that if you don’t tell me when something bad happens, and especially when you lie to me about it.” She squeezed Adagio’s shoulder. “So, no more lies.”
“No more lies,” repeated Adagio. She didn’t know if it was a promise she had any hope of keeping, but when she looked up and saw Cadance’s smiling face – real, actual smiling! – she knew she had to try.
The rest of the ride back to Crystal Prep was quiet. Not the cold, uncomfortable silence of the afternoon, but a warm, pleasant stillness. The sun had nearly set by the time they’d pulled up to the dormitory, and Adagio was about to step out of the car when Cadance stopped her.
“Adagio,” she said, and pulled her into a tight, one armed hug. Adagio stiffened, but allowed it to happen. Cadance needed this… and maybe so did she. After a few seconds, Cadance released her.
“Thank you,” said Cadance, “for being honest with me.”