The first sip of hot milk brought a contented sigh to Sunset’s lips. It was an acquired taste, certainly, but one she readily picked up from her mother. Perfect for when you wanted something hot and smooth to fight down the cold.
And cold it was. The Dali Hall’s furnace proved indifferent to the upper floors. Frost rendered the outside windows translucent, and leaked their influence into the dorm. Wallflower compensated with an extra brown sweater; Sunset, by wearing her Hemline indoors and out. Applejack wore dorky long underwear, while Adagio suffered in her belly shirts and heels.
The chill wasn’t dangerous, but it was annoying. Sunset’s pistol sat disassembled on the table, past due for some cleaning. Cool metal and wet oils were obnoxious to handle when her fingers were already cold. Hence, the warm milk and procrastination – Sunset puttered by the window, admiring the snow-clad landscape. She saw Sour Sweet building a snowman with Sugarcoat, both smiling with uncharacteristic cheer. On a more distant hill, Rarity and Rainbow descended on a wooden sled.
Peaceful. Idyllic, even, from her high perch. Sunset wrapped her fingers around the steaming mug and took another sip.
The moment couldn’t last forever. “Yeah?”
Sunset turned to find Adagio leaning out from her bedroom. “Come here.”
“Because I said so.”
The temptation to dig in her heels was there, but that felt a bit petty. Sunset breathed out a less-contented sigh and set down her drink. She followed the siren to her room, flinching as odors of dust and old pizza found her nose.
The sight, however, was far more glamorous. A silky purple dress hung from Adagio’s closet hook, curving and twisting sultrily without even a body inside. It seemed designed to cling and wrap around the ankles, giving a slim, shimmering figure denied by more conventional clothes. Sexy, without being indecent.
Sunset gave a low whistle, her annoyance fading to admiration. “Nice, very nice. Good choice.”
“Of course it is.” Adagio sidled alongside Sunset and gently pushed her forwards. “Not your usual color, but you’ll look good in purple. Merry Christmas.”
It took Sunset a half-second to follow the words. She recoiled, hands raised. “Whoa, what? I can’t.”
“You better,” Adagio said airily. “I can’t return it, and it won’t fit me.”
Sunset folded her arms and fixed Adagio with a glare. “We had a dorm meeting about this literally last week. We – including you – agreed that we’re all more-or-less broke and shouldn’t get each other anything for Christmas.”
“I lied.” Adagio opened a box on her bed and pulled out a set of glittering purple heels. “These, too.”
“Tell me, Sunset, how shit would I have looked if after you all got done talking about skipping the gifts I said ‘No, I want you to buy me things?’”
The words bought Adagio a moment. She gently began removing the dress from its hangar, then cocked her head to the side. “Actually, I technically didn’t lie. We said we wouldn’t ‘get’ each other anything. Present or future tense. I ‘got’ you these over a month ago, right after that meetup with my sisters.”
Sunset accepted the shoes, a smile forcing its way up as she admired them. “Sure… hey, I never asked how that went.”
“And I never told,” Adagio murmured. She glanced to her nightstand, where several gleaming silver tickets remained.
The half-heard line drew Sunset’s attention. “Hm?”
“Nothing,” Adagio said. She beamed as Sunset struggled to hide her reluctant excitement. “Take it for what it is. Merry Christmas and so forth, with nothing expected in return. Now try it on. You’re wearing this to the dance, and if any part needs tailoring I’ll need to know now.”
Sunset moved as she spoke, readily disrobing into the dress. “It’s not a dance, just a holiday party-slash-reunion for Canterlot High. That’s sort of a big thing for mom: helping people keep the friendships they made, being part of the school even though you graduated, and so on.”
Adagio sucked hard on a lip. “Your mom still single?”
Sunset rotated away, allowing Adagio to pull the ties at her back. “No, she’s dating Sonata.”
Breath hissed, and Adagio froze. Sunset turned her head slowly, catching the staring siren with the corner of her grin. “Did I forget to tell you?”
Adagio released her breath, returning the grin with a humored glare. “Someone thinks she’s a comedian.”
“I wonder where I got it from.”
Adagio actually laughed out loud at that: a throaty, unrefined bark that seemed strange from her lips. She clapped a hand over her mouth, but Sunset chuckled and Adagio could not help but follow suit.
With the back ties done, Adagio commanded Sunset to turn. Sunset obeyed, bringing a suddenly grimmer face into sight. “Seriously: all joking aside, are you really planning to romance my mother?”
“Hold out your arms.” Adagio began working at the wrists, squinting critically as she spoke. “No, I just like hearing you squeak.”
She moved lower, examining the waist and ankles. Falling orange curls hid her frown from Sunset’s eyes. “What about you? Any crushes?”
The words emerged with careful disinterest. Adagio stared as the purple-clad waist shuffled uncomfortably, feigning examination as Sunset spoke. “Yeah. You know... Applejack.”
“I do know,” Adagio murmured.
Sunset chuckled and reached up to scratch the back of her head. The move would have thrown off Adagio’s measurements had she been taking any. “I thought it would pass. Just a weird gay crush that lasts exactly until the next swimmer dude catches my eye. But I’ve been feeling it for a month. I’m going to, uh, make a move pretty soon and see how things go.”
Adagio shifted lower, hiding the tight twist that came to her lips. Her eyes steeled angrily, then softened.
She opened her mouth, closed it, and tried again. “Then I have bad news.”
Face serious, she stood and looked Sunset in the eye. “Applejack and I are already an item. She wants it to be a secret and I respect that.”
Sunset sighed and looked away. Adagio swallowed hard and willed up a nervous frown. “It started recently. Jeez, and after I teased you for crushing on her… sorry. I’m shit, you know that.”
“You’re not shit,” Sunset said quickly. She gave a shaky little smile. “You’re fine, AJ’s fine, and I’m fine. Little disappointed, that’s all.”
“Just don’t bring it up,” Adagio said smoothly. “You know how she is about public affection. Now, here: get in the heels and do a pirouette for me. Let’s see how this all looks on you.”
Marvelous proved the answer. Sunset pushed her disappointment down, aided greatly by the woman in the mirror. She posed, vowing to add more purple to her wardrobe as soon as she could. The dress shimmered and gleamed, flowing down her body to end perfectly above the new heels. She really wasn’t a ‘dress’ kind of girl, but Rarity herself couldn’t have picked a better fit.
Visible in the mirror, Adagio looked on with a rare expression of kind happiness. “Note that by the chest there’s an inside pocket...”
“For my pistol!” Sunset finished, beaming with delight. She spun and caught Adagio in a hug. “This is amazing, thank you! I can’t imagine how much it cost.”
“Enough of that,” Adagio commanded, suppressing thoughts of bills and credit ratings. “It’s Christmas. But get ready to share the limelight, because I want you to send in Wallflower next…”
She trailed off, for Sunset did not release the embrace. Excitement had become tenderness. Sunset squeezed gently, happily.
Awkward and uncertain, Adagio returned the hug. She smiled, until her eyes found themselves in the mirror.
An uncomfortable feeling lodged in Adagio’s stomach as she laid out the dress meant for Wallflower. Like a wide stone. It reminded her of Sunset, and how Adagio had just lied to the girl’s face.
But that was the way of things. The way the sirens had lived ever since they abandoned Hydra. Be the predator, not the prey. Win at all costs. Friendship and trust? Tools to profit by.
Adagio had even told this to Sunset. It was how the world really worked.
...Except when it didn’t.
The feeling faded with the look in Wallflower’s eyes. Her dress was a bright, sultry red, set with sequins that drew in the gaze.
Wallflower mumbled that it would be wasted on her. Who would see?
“Everyone,” Adagio whispered, and hoped so desperately she was right. The dress (and more than a little effort on the hair) worked a transformation upon Wallflower’s figure. Petite, not scrawny. Svelte, not flat. Long white gloves and supple, shining locks.
Twilight turned beet-red and stuttered when she saw her own. Why would Adagio do this? They didn’t speak very often, or share much besides the hunting. Adagio declared that, having saved each other on said hunts, that damn well made them friends. Twilight’s dress was a deep, dark blue Adagio half-envied for herself, for it was starred with so many silver dots it reminded her of a time before the lights of cities occluded the nighttime stars. It draped and flowed around Twilight’s build, hiding her gangly figure in a shifting, flowing pool of midnight.
Adagio smiled along with her guests, finding that each exchanged word lightened the stone in her gut. A little lie… so what? She was a good person, giving her friends such gifts.
A knock sounded. Adagio’s cheer only grew.
After all, in fifteen minutes it would no longer be a lie.
“Come in,” she called.
Applejack. Criminally covered by her thick flannel shirt, but that would change.
She protested, as they all had. The dress was expensive. She didn’t get Adagio anything. Adagio countered once again that it was Christmas, and this was a gift, not an exchange.
Adagio knew her soon-to-be girlfriend was shy about exposing her body. Silly human modesty. She turned, making sure Applejack could see that she faced away during the disrobing. It was always good to be seen as empathetic and caring.
Had to turn back to get her in the dress, though. Adagio held in her leer until she got behind Applejack. The broad shoulders, the Apple-bucking thighs… strange, that Adagio had never favored such types before now. In the past it was always bored nobles, with dainty wrists and perfumed hair. Aroused by her songs, lavishing her with gifts…
...But they weren’t Applejack. Adagio had cruelly used her in high school, and then was swiftly forgiven. What’s more, she smoothed Adagio’s transition into this new circle of friends. Everything the siren had now was thanks to her.
Adagio raised an eyebrow at her own thoughts. ‘Everything she had now’ was scarcely larger than before. Same crappy dorm, same hopeless future. Same bills and debts.
Somehow, that all didn’t seem quite so bad these days.
“Don’t be checking out my backside.”
“I’m not, I just got to thinking,” Adagio said. Honestly, because Applejack had waited long enough to ask.
“What about?” Applejack turned to face, her expression absent of suspicion. Just concern. Of course.
More honesty. Honesty made up for lies, right? “How terrible it was of me to use you in high school. Kissing you out of watches, phones...”
“Water under the bridge,” Applejack said in a solid voice.
“And how good you’ve been to me in return.” Adagio gave a warm smile. “I like being with you, Applejack.”
“You too, Daj.”
They got to the clothing. Applejack’s dress was a deep, authoritative red. Perfect for a woman of her size. Sleeveless and strapless, leaving her arms unencumbered. Gleaming sequins in its weave matched those of the low, comfortable slip-shoes.
Applejack looked into the mirror once the dress was on. She wore an uncomfortable smile, running one hand over a bare bicep. “Girl, I look like a dang gorilla. Ain’t nobody wants to see this.”
The perfect setup. Adagio passed a tongue over her teeth, grinning inside her mouth.
“I do,” the siren breathed. She swept before the mirror, settling a hand on each of the red-clad hips. She pressed close and stood on her tip-toes, moving her lips towards Applejack’s.
Applejack leaned away.
“You made that clear,” Applejack said. She stepped back.
Adagio stepped with her. “I can make it clearer.”
Heavy peach hands set themselves on Adagio’s shoulders and gently pushed. Applejack stared, earnest and concerned even behind her defense. “I don’t really want you to.”
“Let me try?” Adagio wheedled. “You want to take it slow. I respect that, and I respect you. I can be a hand-holding girlfriend until you’re ready.”
“We got a nice thing going,” Applejack said with calm inflexibility. “And we just got done telling each other that things are good between us. Can’t we keep it at that?”
“Can’t we go for more?”
“I said I don’t want to.” Applejack’s frown tightened hard on one side, giving her first sign of frustration. “I’ve had three messy breakups in three years. Then with classes, hunting, and farm work, I just don’t feel I have the time. The answer’s no. I ain’t in the market.”
One last chance, if even that. Adagio pressed close once more. She smiled – seductive, or friendly? Which would give her the better shot? “Snuggle buddies, then?”
She didn’t get past Applejack’s warding hands. The eyes were even, the twanging voice low. “You said you respected me. Don’t make me wonder if you lied.”
Shocked magenta eyes found steady green. “I didn’t,” Adagio said, retreating. Then, “I’m sorry.”
“S’okay.” Switching gears smoothly, Applejack stepped forward and wrapped her in an embrace.
Adagio leaned into it. Then as they broke, she gave an awkward laugh. “I’m going to keep teasing you, you know.”
“Would get worried if you didn’t,” Applejack said. She gave a warm smile, and Adagio painted one on in return. “Now, you need to get your own dress together, Miss Santa Claus. The party won’t wait for us.”
The Canterlot High Holiday Alumni Social (titled “Christmas Alumni Social” until the school board told Celestia that was offensive) was a sad thing when viewed from a distance. Friendship cliques from generations apart stuck to their own tables, only communicating with other former students in the language of polite nothings. The whole of the attendance fit comfortably within half the gym, with the other half given over to a too-large dance floor. Drafted students from the A/V club grumbled as they managed the music, each taking turns sneaking to the open bar and gossiping mockery of their alumni guests. Who in their right mind would waste Christmas break at school?
They did not understand. People came for a reason, and often found what they sought. Reconnection with old friends. Forgiveness for past transgressions. Now and then an old flame or fellowship rekindled, to be carried long past the evening. Fully half of the guests had graduated in the last three years, and brought with them a kind of esprit de corps for having survived the myriad assaults of Equestrian magic. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were minor celebrities for their siblings’ roles, though few of their peers believed the stories trickling from the older classes. Such was the way of things in a world still blinded by the mundane. Sunset’s generation had no one to share their stories with save each other, and so they came – dancing, joking, and laughing as though it was prom night.
Rarity made a wave when she presented herself to the crowd. So did Pinkie Pie, in an entirely different way. But even that paled compared to the arrival of Sunset and her band – five beautiful women in glittering, sexy dresses, all arriving together. Sunset beamed at the attention. Twilight, AJ, and Wallflower blushed in escalating tandem.
Adagio… strange, Sunset would have expected her to relish the crowd’s awe. But instead the siren gave a wan smile and beelined for the bar. No sign of her sisters.
Distractions piled before Sunset could give her another thought. Compliments and greetings from old friends, though Sunset honestly had few outside the Rainbooms. Flash Sentry and Trixie approached her hand-in-hand, both thrilled for a chance to reconnect. They stayed local as well, though at a private college. Two years as a couple and still going strong.
Jealousy stabbed Sunset’s heart, but she brushed it aside. She laughed with genuine entertainment at their stories and shared her own. Rainbooms and more casual acquaintances drifted in and out of their chat: Gilda offered a playful punch, and Rainbow Dash tipsily interrupted with a rendition of the Canterlot High anthem.
Sunset caught Spitfire’s eyes. The former soccer captain huffed and looked away. Photo Finish tried her level best to ignore Sunset, and Soarin – one-time boyfriend and straight-to-the-pros basketball star – was nowhere to be seen. Not all the friends were here, and not all memories were good.
But she couldn’t help that. People took to dancing as conversations wound down, and Sunset joined in. Once each with her mother and aunt, both cut short by their responsibilities managing the event. She danced with Rarity, who spent the whole time gushing over Sunset’s dress, and then with a boy whose name she forgot. His intention was obvious, but he did not protest when Sunset declined to trade phone numbers.
No big, beefy muscles on that boy. Shallow, but Sunset was feeling a little shallow.
Her eyes inevitably found Applejack, dancing with Twilight in perhaps the least amorous way possible. Twilight peered fearfully past her partner, constantly maneuvering to keep the larger woman between her and the nearest stranger. Applejack smiled gently, allowing Twilight to shuffle her without resistance. She was good like that.
Then came a slow, friendly dance with Flash while Trixie danced with... Wallflower? But the magician soon had to move on, for a small crowd of admirers waited their turn. Wallflower’s cheeks were as red as her dress, and a perpetual excited giggle flowed through her as she danced with one after another.
It took Sunset another nameless dance and rejection to realize she had her own little crowd as well. So did AJ and Twilight. Amazing what a good dress could do.
...No sign of Adagio. At least, not on the dance floor.
Rarity had pushed Fluttershy and Coco Pommel into a hugging sort of dance, the latter oddly wearing a suit and tie. Twilight had swapped her old bodyguard for Rainbow, who determinedly was dragging Twilight into a fun, wilder time.
Sunset found Applejack again, and found the green eyes fixed upon her. The dancing crowd parted around AJ as she drew close. Her in flats and Sunset in heels brought their heights the closest they had ever been.
The steady gaze, the surroundings… Sunset knew AJ’s words before she spoke. “Dance with me?”
“Of course,” Sunset said.
She fancied she knew Applejack’s intention, too. The serious look on on her face. The way she guided their swaying bodies to the edge of the festivities. This was the ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ AJ and Adagio were an item, and Sunset wished them the best.
Applejack was shy, so Sunset took the lead. “Confession time: I’ve been crushing on you for months.”
“Figured,” Applejack said without the slightest hint of surprise. She gave a soft chuckle. “That kiss at the pool was a mighty big clue.”
She looked away, frown tightening. “And I blew one back… I shouldn’t have led you on. Just wasn’t sure what to do, so I tried to make it a joke.”
Sunset shook her head. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me.”
“I reckon you deserve it,” Applejack said. “So here goes: you’re sweet and pretty, and I know I came onto you hard in high school. But what with class, work, and hunting, I really just want to relax when I’m off. Trying to cram in dates and stuff just seems like a pain.”
Sunset slowed. Had it not been for Applejack’s strong arms leading the dance, she would have stopped entirely.
Her mouth worked for a second, giving three words without knowing how to finish. “I thought Adagio...”
Applejack gave a groaning laugh. “Yeah, yeah, you two are romantic rivals and I was too dense to pick it up. Seventeen year-old me would’ve been over the moon right now, but y’all are stuck with the me that ain’t really interested. Sorry.”
“You have nothing to apologize for.” Sunset hugged her in the dance. “We’re still friends. Best friends.”
“Glad to hear it. We don’t need ourselves more teen drama.” Applejack gave a gentle squeeze of her own. “I hope Adagio feels the same way. Had to give her the same talk this afternoon.”
Sunset didn’t give a response. They let the conversation drift away naturally – work, life, and Wallflower’s sudden popularity. Even Twilight had consented to a dance outside her circle of friends. Granted, it was with Miss Celestia, but small steps were still steps forward.
The song came to an end. “Gonna move on,” Sunset said. Then, with a nervous grin, “Do you think that when things settle down for you…?”
“I’ll let’cha know when the market’s open.” Applejack smiled with one side of her mouth, and Sunset wondered if she saw a blush.
They parted ways. Sunset began to search. The dance floor… no, the snack tables…
...There. A mountain of orange curls at the bar, seemingly unmoved since their entrance.
Sunset sat down next to Adagio. The siren’s dress was immaculate. Her makeup, only a little smudged. Both eyed each other with neutral frowns.
Adagio spoke first. “Sharks and fish.”
Not what Sunset expected. “Huh?”
“That’s all we are, sharks and fish.” Adagio’s words came with a wet lisp. Too much to drink. “Eat or be eaten.”
Sunset signaled for a drink of her own. “That why you lied to me about AJ? No offense but neither of us are, uh...”
She winced, annoyed at her own double entendre. “...Eating.”
“Not how it was supposed to go,” Adagio said, interrupting herself with a hiccup. “Just had to throw you off until I seduced her. I mean, who can resist this?”
She gestured languidly over her body. One leg perched high on her stool, lifting immodestly though her skirt’s slit. “And right after buying her an expensive present, all out of the goodness of my heart. It was perfect. Perfect target, too. You’ve seen the way she looks at me.”
“It was mostly you looking at her,” Sunset noted. Her drink came, and she took a guarded sip.
“Poor dumb-ass,” Adagio slurred. She downed the shot in front of her and slapped the glass to the counter. “She had a chance to get with the hottest girl on Earth and she blew it. Now me, I don’t really care. Girl like me can get anyone she wants, but AJ? She better hope I’m still open when she crawls back to me.”
The words twisted something inside Sunset. She made her own drink disappear and slammed down the glass even harder. “I dunno. If this is the way you talk about her, I’m thinking she dodged a bullet.”
Adagio sneered. “Fuck you.”
“Damn it, listen to yourself.” Sunset snapped. “She’s your friend.”
Adagio produced her cell phone and turned her eyes to the screen. “Then that’s her mistake. I told you idiots, I’m in it for me and no one else.”
She swiped her thumb to the key – or would have, if the phone was still in her grip. A quick move of Sunset’s hand snatched it away.
Sunset rose. Adagio glared upwards, and Sunset matched it with a cold, steady glare and single word.
Winter’s chill assaulted as they left the gym. Sunset set her hand against the brick entryway; she helped lay those bricks, after destroying the whole wall at the Fall Formal. Forgiveness, friendship, and four years had made her a far different person than the Sunset back then.
A bare dusting of snow had settled on the arch. It melted beneath her palm as she lingered, leaving the new stone visible when she turned away.
“Not too late to back out.” Adagio grinned. Not a smug grin, or a happy one. Her head swayed, and she took an extra step to keep balance. “Siren agility, remember? I can put you flat on your ass anytime I want.”
“Maybe if you weren’t drunk,” Sunset said. Somehow she didn’t feel cold out here. Adrenaline and alcohol.
Adagio cracked her knuckles, the grin falling to gritted teeth. “Guess that makes it fair.”
She lunged. High heels skidded in the snow, and the next foot came down at a tipsy angle. Her swinging fist flew wide in an instinctive grasp for something to stop the fall.
The hand found nothing. But as her body pitched forward, a thinner form in a purple dress caught it with her own. Sunset wrapped her arms around Adagio, hugging and steadying her.
Adagio’s breath hitched, held… and then released with a dry chuckle. “What kind of a fight is this?”
Pressed close as they were, the two could only look past each other.
“You’re a good person,” Sunset murmured.
Adagio gave a loud, sarcastic laugh. She steadied herself and tried to pull away, but Sunset didn’t let go.
“I’m curious what the hell makes you say that.”
Sunset released her hold. She stepped back so they could see each other again, and gave a cryptic smile. Wordlessly, she raised a hand and plucked at her dress. Shimmering purple; a perfect fit.
“Did you see Wallflower?” Sunset asked.
Adagio had spent all evening at the bar. She shook her head, and Sunset went on. “She’s the life of the party. People are lining up to dance with her. Even Twilight’s having fun, and AJ...”
The smile shrank, but did not disappear. “Yeah, what you tried to pull was bad. Doesn’t mean I can’t forgive you. Rejection sucks, and–”
“I said I don’t care about that,” Adagio growled.
“You’re lying,” Sunset noted with a shrug. “Now you remember what I said: you’re fine, I’m fine, she’s fine. It’s okay that AJ doesn’t want to start dating. It’s okay that you’re upset, and to be honest, I am too. But I’m way more upset about my friend drinking and lashing out than I am at my chances for tough-girl nookie fading from the immediate future.”
Adagio threw out her curls. She sniffed wetly. “Buying you an expensive dress doesn’t make us friends.”
“It sure doesn’t,” Sunset agreed. She didn’t break eye contact, though Adagio did. “Nothing on its own does. Remember how we finally scored our first Smash Pillars win against Wallflower by ganging up on her? We had to stop the game and do our victory dance. Then when I was freaking out over the finals, you swiped the test plans from Mister Discord. Yes, chocolate stains had made everything illegible, but you cared enough to try.”
Another wet sniff. Adagio rubbed her arms against the cold. “I just wanted to get on your good side.”
“The werewolf would have bitten off my head if you didn’t get in its way. You helped us fight the Space Nazis despite being pretty ambivalent to doing so. Then that night I fell asleep with my head on your leg. But I was only half-asleep and heard you complain about it to Twilight, then you shooed her away when she went to wake me up.”
“You make me feel pretty.”
The words blurted out from the entrance. They looked over to see Applejack, with a shy little smile and two other hunters in tow.
“Wallflower saw y’all head out,” Applejack mumbled, lingering in the doorway. A bare arm reached up and scratched the back of her head. “She thought you were gonna fight.”
She gave a hard shake of the head, stammering the first word. “A-anyway, a girl like me doesn’t get much in the way of romantic callers. So Daj, you being all you and stuff… teasing and flirting and all, that makes me feel like, ‘Hey, I’m pretty good looking, myself.’ And you always back off when I tell you to back off, and never tease me about anything I don’t like.”
An apologetic glance moved between the yellow girls, and Applejack took one step closer. “I’m not really up for dating right now. But I ain’t gonna be like that forever. And whatever direction that whole business goes, here and now, I’m a happier person because you’re my friend.”
Wallflower sped past her and excitedly seized Adagio by the wrists. The unexpected pull sent orange curls flying, and revealed wetness in the siren’s eyes. “Everyone can see me, Adagio! I put my head up just like you said, and they all want to dance! This has never happened, thank you so much!”
Twilight followed slower, but smiled cattily. “I don’t have a good emotional story like these guys. But I did spend a long time wondering what it was like to have friends. Sharing fun and secrets, tears and trust and terrifying encounters… that’s us, you know? That’s what it means to be friends.”
Adagio gave a high squeak of a laugh, and moved her knuckles over her eyes. Her shoulders trembled. Silent hiccups shook her chest, and she turned the hand to hide her eyes from view.
Her words came forced through a tight, shaking grin. “I’m homosexual, but you guys are frickin’ gay.”
Wallflower snapped her arms around Adagio and squeezed. Twilight and Sunset followed suit, and Applejack crossed the distance to entwine her arms with theirs.
Adagio kept the hand over her eyes, and she moved the other up to hide her mouth. The tremble in her body became a violent shake that the embrace held in check.
She jerked her head downwards, concealing the face while freeing her hands to grasp frantically around. One found Sunset’s fingers; the other, Twilight’s shoulder. Adagio squeezed them hard enough to cause pain, and that was alright.