Adagio threw on her coat to the sounds of Aria and Sonata arguing. Again. Apparently they had just lost at some game or another and naturally each blamed the other for it. She snapped her fingers and the arguing came to halt. Turning back towards the living room, she spotting the two looking over the back of the couch at her.
“Something wrong, Dagi?” asked Sonata.
Adagio took a moment to look into the mirror beside their front door and straighten out her ponytail. “No, no. I'm going out for a bit and wanted to make sure you two idiots didn't wreck anything while I was away.”
“Oh come on, it was only one toaster and I replaced it.” Sonata pouted.
Aria rolled her eyes. “We don't need a babysitter all the time, you know. Just go, we'll be fine.”
“You be careful too! Some people are still a wee bit upset about us controlling their minds and feeding off their energy.” Sonata crossed her arms. “You know, we said we were sorry. Jeez, what more do they want?”
Adagio didn't bother to answer the inane question and simply left. Light snow was falling from the clouds above, with occasional packs of it riding on gusts of wind. Before walking off and having to deal with the public once more Adagio took a deep breath, and as she exhaled she watched the vapor spread out into the afternoon sky, stopping only when she felt a snowflake land on her forehead. With an irritated growl she wiped it and walked onward into town, the layer of snow under her boots crunching with each step. There was no specific reason for this outing. Perhaps she had listened to Sonata and Aria bickering a bit too much or maybe she was simply a touch stir crazy. Either way, she felt like stretching her legs and wasn't going to allow the feelings of others to force her into becoming a hermit.
She passed the usual assortment of shops and homes along the way, none caught her interest as she had no current need for them. Instead, events from earlier in the year replayed in her head. Victory being snatched away from them at the last second, and the response they got afterward. Thankfully there wasn't a specific law in place when it comes to brainwashing the masses with magic, so she didn't fear legal retribution. Still, it wasn't an easy adjustment to go from having others worship her as a goddess to being on the lowest rung of the social hierarchy. In fact the only person that seemed willing to talk to them afterward was the same one who caused their downfall, Sunset Shimmer.
A sudden loud ringing shattered her thoughts. On the upcoming street corner another one of those men in red clanged away with that insipid bell. She stood and watched the people that passed by as they occasionally drop their loose change into his bucket. Every single time he would nod his head and thank them for being so generous.
No matter how long she stayed among the humans she would always be mystified at some of their traditions. None among them were stranger that the celebration of Christmas. The humans may be foolish most of the time, but they took it to a whole new level during this time of the year. Who in their right mind would drag a messy tree into their home and leave out cookies just so some fat, elderly man would break into their house and leave a few cheap gifts? Speaking of Santa himself, he had sounded like a nightmare come real when she first heard of him. A single man who watches every single child in the world during every moment of their lives, all the while judging their behavior. Yet instead of being horrified at this, the human claimed he was some ultimate good, a miracle maker. Perhaps he was simply better at brainwashing them than I was?
Her stomach gurgled. Right, I should have ate before I went out. She looked up and down the street and spotted Sugar Cube Corner across from her. The pink one would be there... Adagio's tongue slid along her lips. However, the sugary goodness of the delicacies made there would be more than enough to tolerate the extra scrutiny. After looking both ways, she darted across the street and ran up to the door. She mentally prepared herself to deal with the pink one and then opened it.
A bell rang, alerting the person working the counter. “Welcome to Sugar Cube Corner!” said Pinkie with a big wave and a smile. Both soon stopped. “Oh... uh, hello, Adagio.”
As Adagio walked up to her, she held her hands in the air. “I'm not here to start trouble, I swear. I just have a sweet tooth to take care of.”
“Well, alright then. But I've got my eye on you.”
“I wouldn't expect anything less. I'll take a cheese danish and a cookie dough milkshake.” Despite some of the annoying habits she had displayed during school hours, Adagio had to give credit where credit was due; Pinkie was a very quick worker. In no time flat, Adagio had her order. The large danish gave off a scent that made her mouth water, and a milkshake this big and thick would tempt anyone.
Adagio grabbed the tray they sat on and turned around... only to see every table there was already occupied. They always have to find someway to annoy me. She sighed in defeat when an old man caught her attention. “Excuse me, miss?” She turned to her right and saw the man sitting at a table by the wall. “You are in need of a seat, are you not? I just so happen to have three empty ones around me and wouldn't mind a little company.”
There was nothing particularly special about the man at first glance. He wore a standard, if a bit oversized coat. His hair and scruffy beard had lost all color they might have once had. But those eyes, Adagio had seen eyes like that before on Starswirl the Bearded. They were the eyes of one who has experienced much in his life, or was far, far older than they appear. “Are you sure about that? If I sit with you others might think you're brainwashed or conspiring with me on my next evil plan.” She let out a small snort.
The man simply laughed, a surprisingly hardy laugh from a comment not meant as a joke. “I would reply that preventing a young lady from enjoying her sugary treat would be what's evil.”
With no other choices in sight Adagio accepted. Pulling out the chair across from him, she sat down and took her first sip of the milkshake. So worth it. “You have no idea who I am, do you?” It had to be asked as no one from around here would offer her a seat like this.
“I know many things, Miss Adagio. I've heard all about what you did at that school and your attempt at world domination. But in person, you aren't nearly as intimidating as I expected.”
“Sorry. Next time I'll bring my boogieman mask. Maybe that'll help.”
“Nah. I think you look better without a mask.”
“Whatever.” She snatched up her danish and bit into it. The chewy dough and thick cream cheese instantly made her relax as she let out little murmurs of how delicious it was.
“There is one little thing that I don't understand, something about the whole situation that perplexes me, and that's not something that happens often. If you aren't in a rush, perhaps you can indulge an old man's curiosity.”
Adagio groaned in frustration, yet another person was going to ask her why she did it or something else stupid like that. She turned her attention from the danish to the old man and took note of his expression. It was... the only word Adagio could put to it was stoic. Sure, he was smiling, but his true thoughts behind that smile seemed unreadable. She had never met Celestia – the alicorn Celestia – before, but if the stories of her were true, this was the kind of neutral smile she would expect from the princess. The urge to finish quickly and walk out was there, but in truth she wasn't in a hurry to get home either. “Fine, ask whatever it is you're going to ask,” she replied.
“It would seem you had two other – sirens was it? Yes, sirens – you had two other sirens with you as your helpers or minions if you prefer. Why do you keep them around? It doesn't quite fit the image of a monster who enjoyed feeding off of hatred.”
“Those two...” Adagio clinched her eyes shut and furrowed her brow. “Those two...” Her eyes snapped open and she stared him right in his. “Let me tell you a thing or two about those two. They are irresponsible, argumentative, idiots! I've had to keep them safe after their own screw ups constantly. Sonata... oh boy Sonata. Now there's a simpleton for you. She's usually in her own little world but will always exit it at the worst time to say something stupid or to nearly give away what we are to others. I'm going to end up with a concussion from the amount of facepalming I have to do around her.
“And then there's Aria. No matter what I did as the leader she was ready with some sarcastic comment. Most of the time it was about how she should be the leader.” Adagio let out a laugh. “Leader? With her social skills? Yeah, that would have gone over smoothly! Those two are beyond a shadow of a doubt the biggest pains in the neck I've ever had to deal with.” She drank from her milkshake to calm herself as every mistake the two had made floated to the surface of her mind.
“And yet, you kept them around?” Adagio didn't answer at first, not really sure how to put it into words. “Miss?”
In a voice much softer than the one she used for that rant, she answered, “...they're my idiots.”
“They were the closest thing I had to friends before I came here. At the end of the day, they're the only ones I can honestly say would stand by me no matter what happens. Even after we lost our powers they didn't even think about leaving my side.”
“So, they're family to you?”
“Yeah, I guess you could say that. I will always take care of them and they'll always try to take care of me.”
The man nodded, and his smile grew wider, seemingly genuine now as opposed to the stoic one. “Thank you for answering me. I should probably get out of your hair now. I hope you have a happy holiday season with your family, Miss Adagio.”
“Yeah, whatever.” The man stood up and walked away as she finished off her food.
Adagio spent the next hour walking around the town before returning home. She hung up her coat by the door and called out, “Guys, I'm home.”
A blue blur rushed up to her and squeezed the air out of Adagio. “Dagi Dagi Dagi Dagi Dagi Dagi Dagi Dagi! Guess what?”
“T-too t-tight,” she wheezed.
“Heh, sorry.” Sonata released her death grip. “Okay, now guess what? Actually, no, don't guess! Sing!”
“Ugh, why would I want to do that? I'm going to sound like a dying ostrich.” Adagio saw Aria walking up from behind Sonata.
“Just trust us and sing,” said Aria.
“Oh woah, oh woah, you didn't... know...” She paused for a moment, her jaw hanging wide open. The sound that had come out didn't make her plug up her ears and cringe. It sounded... “That you fell,” she finished the line. It sounded exactly as it did before when she had magic.
“We can sing again!” shouted Sonata as she jumped up and down, squealing in delight.
“Gotta admit, this is pretty awesome,” added Aria.
Tears welled up in her eyes as the realization that she really did have her singing voice back hit her.
“Adagio? Are you okay?” asked Sonata.
“I'm fine. I just need a moment.” Before giving them the chance to reply, Adagio ran upstairs to her bedroom and shut the door behind her – she never was one to let them see her cry. The tears flowed freely down her face. Even if she can't control others with it anymore, she had gotten back the one thing that made her special. After some time she wiped her eyes, and only then spotted a folded up piece of paper on her bed. She picked it up and opened it revealing a short note. It read:
In my old age I must be really slipping up. Here I accidentally fudged up my list and put a card carrying villain on the good side. Even worse, I delivered a special gift to her and her family early. If this were to get around I'd have all the purists back home looking at me like I grew a second head. Let's just keep it our little secret, huh? Merry Christmas Adagio.