Aria grumbled to herself in between pained coughs as she sorted through the mounds of dirty laundry, notebook paper, and odd electronic components strewn carelessly across her bedroom floor. She cursed when she nicked her finger on a pair of scissors hidden beneath a shirt she had cut the sleeves off of out of sheer boredom. Shaking the finger, and sucking on it for a moment, she then stood up straight, and headed toward her closet.
"These fucking hands. I'll never get used to them," she said as she shook her offended finger one more time, and then began to rummage through the clothing within the closet. Soon, she came across what it was she had been looking for, namely her favourite black baseball cap as well as a rather small, seemingly random screwdriver which had previously been hiding inside the pocket of one of her jackets. "Aha! Jackpot!" she exclaimed to herself, holding both items in either hand. Nearly gouging out one of her eyes as she moved to put on her cap without first putting down the screwdriver, Aria then decided it would be best for her to calm down, and take things slowly.
This wasn't the first time she had been late for work, but it was the first time she was going to be late after having begged her boss for a change in her schedule. Aria used to think that she simply was not a morning person, having lost her affinity for rising before the crack of dawn about a millennia and a half ago. In all actuality, it was schedules that she really hated. People expecting things of her that she did not want to deliver on, especially if it benefited her in no way, was something that she quite despised. She had thought she had been done with doing things like that for over two thousand years. Back in Equestria, when she had her full powers, this sort of thing never happened. There were no schedules and no promises to keep. The entire world seemed to revolve around her, and that was exactly how she had liked it.
Alas, times had changed. Now, she found herself nearly falling down face first in the hallway attempting to somehow run out of her room whilst tying the laces on one of her combat boots at the same time. It was all to get to her shitty little job where she would be surrounded by shitty little people asking shitty little questions for the rest of her shitty eternity. At least she could be thankful for the job's one, miniscule saving grace...
She rubbed her tired eyes, and slipped on her cap as she cursed to herself again, and made a quick dash to Adagio's room. Storming in as if she owned the place, she marched right up to her sister siren's vanity table, and snatched a pair of black, clearly expensive, designer sunglasses that were sitting atop of it. Sliding the glasses into place upon her face, she scoffed at the notion that 'Adagio the witch' might ever think to keep anything from her that she was set on having. She then marched out of the room, slamming the bedroom door behind her. Quickly making her way down the stairs, she stuffed a purple wallet, a half emptied pack of cigarettes, and her screwdriver into her jacket pockets before running out of the door.
"Long night?" the young man with stark red skin and brown hair said while stifling a laugh as Aria barged into the instrument repair shop.
Sneaking through the door to the back room, she quickly passed him a deadly glare. "Shut up, Mud," she spat as she darted around the room, trying as silently as she could to put her things away, and look as if she had been there twenty minutes prior.
"Seriously, though, who hit you with what size truck?" the red man laughed in his country accent, ignoring her threats.
Aria took her place on the stool beside him. She pulled over a gorgeous boutique electric guitar she had been babying for the past week, and got to work unscrewing the back plate with the screwdriver she had retrieved from her pocket. Despite this, she had forgotten that Adagio's glasses were still sitting upon her face. As the man laughed, she could hear a loud rustling behind a door on the opposite side of the room. She began to sweat. "I swear to God, Wheeler," she threatened him, her voice wavering nervously.
Muddy Wheeler was one of the biggest jerks that Aria had had the displeasure of knowing in this town, besides that infernal hoard of singing, giggling, hugging destruction that roamed the halls back at CHS, of course. Wheeler, on the other hand, didn't do any of those things. He was one of those special kinds of self-obsessed blockheads who, along with his good looks and wannabe rebel vintage car, had just assumed he was personally bestowed upon all women as a gift from the heavens. The worst part?—He was excellent at hiding it behind a greasy veneer of fake charm and semi-entertaining jokes. If only he could know that along with the ever present trail of negative energy that any halfwit siren could see leaking from his very pores, the experience that also came along with Aria's age had given her an incredible sense of perception when it came to the subtleties of other people's personalities. After over two thousand years of existence, there wasn't much that she and her comrades couldn't tell about others just by looking at them—if they were actually trying, that is. Hell if she knew how the Rainbooms had managed to pull the wool over their eyes. Wheeler hadn't pulled the wool over her eyes, and while it was a fact that his hidden, negative thoughts encompassed him, Aria still considered him to be rather harmless.
"Alright, alright! I'm done!" Wheeler said, jokingly raising his hands in defeat. A couple seconds of silence ensued after this. "But was it a whiskey truck? OW!"
Aria withdrew her fist quickly, and then pointed a finger in the man's face, but before she could get any words out, she heard the loud sliding of furniture and papers from the door behind them. She could hear a few gruff coughs before the thunder began raining down.
"Is that Aria? Tell that good for nothin' to bring her scrawny ass back here!" yelled a woman's voice.
Both Aria and Wheeler froze where they sat. A self-gratifying smile spread across Wheeler's face as he shrugged at Aria, almost as if he could shake off his own guilt at having gotten her into trouble. "Alright, Cookie!" he yelled, then turning to face the terrified-looking girl. "Aria, Cookie would like to have a word with you." His words came calmly, and dripping with ill gotten satisfaction.
Silently threatening him with a beating once more, Aria then turned her attention to the more important matters at hand. Taking a deep breath, and exhaling as she slammed her screwdriver down onto the workbench, she slowly got to her feet, straightened her hair and clothing, and began what she deemed a slow death march toward her boss' office door.
Taking another deep breath as she stared at the closed door, she held it, and quickly stepped inside. "Cookie, I know what it looks like, but I can explain," she blurted as she stared down at the cinnamon-skinned, late twenty, early thirty-something, poofy-haired woman that sat at the desk before her, shuffling through papers.
As Aria spoke, the woman never even looked up at her. A long pause ensued after she said this until, finally, Cookie took a moment to glance up. She swept the huge, haloing puff of white hair away from her hidden hazel eyes, revealing a rather striking white patch of a birthmark that encircled the left one."Well? I'm waiting," she said, holding her stack of papers.
In her line of sight, Aria's entire body went stiff. Her eyes went wide, and a huge lump grew in her throat. It was the strangest thing. Cookie Dough was one of those rare, enigmatic, mortals that Aria couldn't quite wrap her mind around, and it thrilled her. She never spoke much about her own history, but on the few times she was actually being amicable to Aria, say if they were out for drinks after a particularly difficult day, the pigtailed girl could always count on learning something new and fascinating about her. Cookie had been born and raised in a small town, settled in the big city, and, in the end, had returned to yet another small town. Between those events, she had held just about every job that one could imagine, as well as all the adventures that came along with them, most of which Aria had yet to hear about. She had first been a cook in her family's house where she showed great prowess in the craft of baking, had gone to culinary school while playing electric guitar in a number of bands in her free time, until finally she opened up her own restaurant before realizing that being a chef just wasn't her cup of tea. After she closed down the place, she hit the road, living out of her RV and picking up whatever job she could find, from diner cook to mechanic, to, after a few alterations on her RV, a moving bed and breakfast hostess. Eventually, she realized that music was her passion, and settled down here to open up her very own instrument and instrument repair shop. Even after all this, Aria knew that Cookie's well ran even deeper, and there were so many more stories to be told. After so many centuries of countless faces and boring personalities, people like her were always refreshing, almost magical, and all of these thoughts now showed blatantly upon Aria's face.
She took a deep breath. "Ok, so I don't have a good explanation," she admitted, looking up at the ceiling with exasperation. " But, please, Cookie, I swear to you that this is the very last time."
She recoiled when she saw the other woman grimace, her eyes burning into Aria in a way that made her anxious.
"Kay, darlin', why don't you have a seat?" Cookie sighed, motioning to the chair on the other side of her desk.
As Aria slowly moved to sit down, to her horror, she saw Cookie pull a hairband from off of her wrist and tie her big poof back away from her face. The former siren knew from experience that this was never a good sign when it happened.
"And take those damn sunglasses off, will ya?" the hazel-eyed woman yelled.
Aria snatched them off, quickly placing them down on the desk. She knew that the shadows around her eyes looked bad in the horrid fluorescent light of Cookie's office, but somehow she managed to meet her gaze, despite the worried expression that flashed across the other woman's face.
"Listen, I don't know what's goin' on with you right now, Aria, but I know it's goin', and I'm sympathetic to that. I really am. But I'm tryin' to run a business here, got me? Now, you're one of the best instrument docs I've ever met, and believe me, that's sayin' a lot, but Doll, I can't have you showin' up late every day. That just ain't good for business." Cookie sighed heavily, and began to shake her head as if she were trying to decide upon something.
Aria recognized the warning signs, spotting slight glimmers of green smoke beginning to halo the woman's head. She leaned forward onto her boss' desk. "Cookie? Cookie, no. You don't understand. I need this job. You've gotta give me another chance. I promise this won't happen again. Please!" she begged looking as if she might grab the woman by the collar and throttle her.
Cookie stared at Aria for a moment, arms crossed, and expression rather skeptical. She peered at her as if she were waiting for something to happen.
Eventually the younger girl rolled her eyes and sighed. "I'll buy you an entire pint at Bubble's tonight, deal?" she muttered.
A crack of a smile broke out on Cookie's face as she cocked an eyebrow in Aria's direction. "Bribery, eh?" Cookie laughed.
Aria's expression remained rather stern. "Desperate times call for desperate measures," the dour girl deadpanned.
Cookie thought for a moment, but by the way she was smiling, Aria knew she had the woman hook, line, and sinker. In all actuality, it was a small price to pay considering she would be getting to spend time with one of the few beings, mortal and immortal alike, who didn't cause her mental distress.
"Alright, deal," Cookie said, hitting her desk with her palm for emphasis. She immediately pulled her big, white poof out of the hair band, letting it fall back into place over her eyes. She stood up with a smile and stretched her back out. "But, I swear, Aria, if you're late even one more time..."
"I won't be. I promise," Aria assured her, exhaling with relief. Her head tilted backward against the back of the chair. It was then that she caught Cookie leaning on her desk, staring at her. Becoming anxious, once again, Aria's eyes darted about until finally she found the nerve to pipe up. "What? What is it?"
"Nothin'," Cookie lied. "It's just that, I still don't believe you're... How old did you say you were again?"
Aria's jaw immediately tightened as she tried to hide the gritting of her teeth through a very pained and very forced smile. If it was one thing that she absolutely despised after all these years, it was mortals and their endless prying about her age. This was yet another thing that she could blame Adagio for. Back in Equestria, she and her fellow sirens had indeed stopped physically aging around the end of their teens, but the forms that they were able to take, because of their expansive power, were numerous. If they chose to appear as elderly earth ponies, or pegasus fillies whilst they hunted for their fills of negative energy, they could. However, having deemed one's teenage years the most volatile and tumultuous time of anypony's life, Adagio had preferred that form. Teenagers were easy to hunt, easy to manipulate, and easy to drain, as far as she was concerned, and Aria had to admit that at the time she had agreed, but when Star Swirl the Bearded had banished them to this forsaken place, it was in their teenaged forms that they were swept away, and it was in their teenaged forms that they were to remain, never again being able to muster the same amount of power to change themselves. Aria was grateful, at least, for the fact that in this world teenagers also appeared to be of a rather turbulent spirit. That guaranteed that at least they would not starve. Nevertheless, today, she wished that she had time to put on some damn makeup. When done well, at least that managed to age her enough to give her some reprieve from these incessantly blood-boiling inquiries.
"Oh," she managed to laugh. "Don't worry, I'm definitely older than twenty-one... hundred." She muttered the last part so low that Cookie didn't hear it.
The woman nodded in satisfaction, and began to walk around the desk. "Well, you sure do hold your liquor like a disillusioned forty year old, that's for damn sure," the woman joked as she passed by, playfully flipping one of Aria's pigtails over her shoulder. "Now, get outta my office. I'm goin' out to eat."
At the smell of Cookie's perfume as she passed, and the sensation of the woman's fingers brushing against her arm, Aria's body stiffened. She felt her face threatening to burn up. Thank goodness she was already rose-colored. Feeling rather light-headed, she quickly jumped to her feet, shoved her hands into her pockets, and followed Cookie back out into the work room. She marched rather mechanically in a poor attempt to not look fazed by the other woman's presence. The last thing on her mind at that moment was remembering to retrieve Adagio's sunglasses from where they sat upon the woman's desk.
She quickly took her seat back on the workbench where Wheeler was busy trying to figure out some kid's busted trombone.
"Forty minutes," Cookie yelled as she grabbed her bomber jacket off of a nearby wall hook, jingling the keys from the pocket around her fingers. "Hold down the fort!" She then disappeared out of the room and through the front door.
Aria watched her until she was gone, the expression on her face unreadable. With a sigh, she snatched her screwdriver back up, and immediately got back to work. She never noticed that Wheeler had been practically staring a hole into the side of her face the entire time she had been watching Cookie.
"Say, Aria," he finally spoke up, arms crossed, leaning against the workbench. "So, how come you and me haven't gone out yet, huh?"
"Hmm, maybe it's because you're a sleaze? Not sure, but that's probably it," Aria replied, pointing a sarcastically sweet grin in his direction.
"Ouch," he said grabbing his chest dramatically. "Now, what have I ever done to you? What's the problem, huh? You batting for the other team or somethin?"
This made Aria instinctively pause what she was doing. She could feel Wheeler's stupid smile on the side of her face. Taking a deep breath, she then slammed her screwdriver down, and slowly turned her stool so that she could face him directly with a steely expression. She cocked an eyebrow at him. "As a matter of fact, Wheeler, I do bat for the other team, and also the same team. Lots of teams, even. Except, of course, for whichever team is your team," she said calmly before fluttering her lashes at him, rolling her eyes, and turning back toward the guitar she had been working on.
Wheeler, his ego clearly bruised, forced a laugh, and shook his head as he got back to his project as well. He tried not to show any reaction, but it was clear by his tightened jaw, and the billows of green smoke that she perceived escaping from his body, that Aria had successfully gotten to him. "You're really somethin' else, aren't you, Aria Blaze?" he muttered, almost threateningly.
"You really have no idea," she replied, unfazed, her eyes still on her work.
Not too long ago, Sonata Dusk was an immortal, energy-sucking bastion of chaos, alright, but one with a very clear philosophy for living. That philosophy, as odd as it might have seemed, was to just keep things simple. Sure, it might have been a personal ideology that no one else understood, including her fellow former sirens. However, one great truth that she never uttered out loud to them when they would verbally attack her for her supposed slow-wit was the fact that the two of them were usually terribly miserable, and thus, inadvertently trapped themselves within terribly miserable lives of their own making.
She wasn't exactly sure when it had first hit her to put a filter on her mind and the things she would allow herself to become too emotionally invested in. Maybe it was some time around the great plagues. Or, perhaps it was during the French Revolution. No, nevermind. That one was kind of fun. Oh, who could keep all of these human woes straight after watching a thousand years of the most minute to the most grandiose calamities go by, especially since she and her companions had been the cause for quite a few of them? There were seemingly so many reasons to lament about this, and cry about that, and after a time, Sonata watched as even her sister sirens began to get drawn into the silliest conflicts of everyday human life, quarreling over someone's goat getting into their fields, or mourning over a red wine stain on an expensive robe à la française. What did these tiny, earthly things really matter? Sonata, clearly, had been the only one to realize that they didn't that much.
Not to say that she didn't enjoy the occasional simple pleasure of a new dress, or a much-needed mani/pedi, but to allow these very mortal, very temporary things to live in her forever, to slowly beat against her like the waves against the rocks on the shore instead of rolling delightfully off of her back like droplets of water, seemed silly. If she opened herself up to every little irritant, every little qualm, what would have been left after all this time?—Nothing but an empty shell, that's what. Sonata didn't understand how Aria and Adagio had managed to make it through all of these ages with most of their sanity intact.
The fleeting seasons, or smell of a sweet perfume—that was life to her. Tender kisses from a summer love in the dark, and all of the glorious food. The temporary nature of all of these things only worked to enhance their beauty. It wasn't something that Sonata thought she should mourn. And, of course, there was the music. Oh, how the changing music of the ages thrilled her. Countless incantation songs had been born within her just by inspiration of the age alone. The refrains that left her lips were powerful as the whizzing of the thoughts that buzzed through her brain.
Perhaps she might look at a newborn baby, finding it interesting how wrinkles showed up at the very edges of what was mortal life, and make a seemingly silly comment like, "That baby looks like that nice grandpa guy that lived next door to us in London." Or maybe the sight of her plucking flowers whilst contemplating the very fragility of their existence might have appeared to her sisters, and any other onlookers, as her simply picking stupid flowers.
"Silly Sonata", they would say. "Sonata, go back to sleep." What they didn't know was how very much awake she had been, and though she might have appeared to be what these lovely little temporary creatures called "spaced out," she knew that absolutely no one could fault her for not being mentally present and aware when it counted. Whenever Adagio had a plan, she knew what to do. Whenever she received an order from her elder sistren in song, there was never any questioning it. It was done. But after it was done, she would allow her mind the opportunity to fly free once again. So, she came off as a little bit dopey. So what?
However, things had indeed changed very much during the past few months following the Battle of the Bands. Being stripped so unceremoniously of her powers, her melodious magic, and in a sense, her life blood, had been the second most eye-opening moment of Sonata's long, long life. It was exceeded only by the moment when she first gained full realization and control over her abilities many ages ago. Now, suddenly, everything about her eternal philosophy had changed. Never before had she been required to worry or want for food, for water, for shelter, or any of those seemingly "silly" things that she had once found endearing about mortals, all whilst charming away the hard earned fruits of their labors from their very fingertips. Only once before had she been expected to give up so many hours out of each and every day—hours that she would usually reserve for her colourful ruminations—to instead, toiling for sustenance. That was an old, nameless time, a time that she would much rather never remember again. Yet, as she marched off to work dutifully, day in and day out, those dark things, long gone, seemed more and more to rise up out of the past to haunt her.
She had to admit, the hard, mundane work, the lack of having her thoughts all to herself, and not to mention the withdrawals from not being able to consume precious negative energy had taken their toll on her, both mentally and physically. Her ability to withstand her anxieties and things that might have been called guilt weakened. Her dreams were turning sour, and the hours of her sleep shortened with each passing week. She didn't know why, but lately a suffocating sensation had gathered about her neck, and remained there.
Alas, the ones who loved and watched out for her had needed her help, and to her, there was no question about whether or not she would be there for them. To her it was love, besides song and music, that was the most precious, eternal thing in the universe, even more so than life itself, and unlike those horrible Rainbooms, Sonata knew in her ever-beating heart that you didn't have to be a damned saint or sparkly "better-than-thou" princess to give or deserve love. You certainly didn't have to be of a pristine personality to get it. Being a former siren, she should know that. None of these conclusions felt wrong to her. To her, there were only delights and sorrows, and the many different paths to getting them both.
There was one thing, however, that she could not tolerate, something that she could leave no gray area for. To leave the one who gives you delight, or worse yet, their love without due repayment, to her, was an unforgivable sin. Thus, if Adagio and Aria needed her to work a thousand more hours a week, she would surely have done it, and still it would not be enough for what she owed them. For, how could she ever repay those who had given her the greatest gift of love she had ever known?
"Two cheeseburgers, one with extra pickles, a chili dog deluxe, and three choco shakes!" Sonata yelled, forcing some cheer and pep into her voice as she slid each dish quickly onto a table full of hungry young men. "Can I get you fellas anything else?"
One of the young men, looking the pretty blue girl over, passed a sly glance toward his friends, and then turned to smile at her. "Yea, uh, Sonata," he began, taking a moment to read her nametag. "There is just one more thing. Now, rumor has it that out of all the shakes in this joint, you've got the best. So, how 'bout it?"
Sonata's smile went bright, and the rather sleazy nature of the man's request zipped right over her head as she took a step backward away from the table. "Well, those rumors are totally true!" she said giving a quick twirl and a cute shake in beat with the jukebox music that played loudly in the restaurant. Passing a wink toward the table, she then walked away smiling, and left the boys in the middle of an uproarious cheer. The whistling and hooting could still be heard as she disappeared behind the kitchen door to fetch another order.
"Sorry, running a little behind!" J.R. called to all four of the restaurant's other waitresses who lingered about near the doorway, fanning themselves with their trays every minute or so as they waited for their next orders to come up.
As Sonata entered, one particularly pretty, orange haired girl with big, green, angel eyes glanced through the door's glass window to the table of content customers the former siren had just left behind. "Man, Sonata. You're amazing. That's another huge tip for you, I bet. I can't even do the hokey pokey without falling on my butt," she moaned.
Sonata walked over to lean on the table next to her, and nudged her affectionately in the arm. "Oh, come on, Peach. It's really not that hard. Here, I'll teach you! You just hop and shake and hop and shake. See?"
Peachy Keen observed Sonata with amusement before, with a little resistance, she took a small hop herself, and did an awkward shake. "You've got it already!" Sonata giggled encouragingly. "We'll call it the Peach Shake!"
The two girls giggled amongst themselves, never once noticing the other three standing idly by, staring them down judgmentally.
After a while, one cream-skinned girl standing nearest them stood up straight, and approached. "You know, Sonata, it's fine if you wanna prance around, slutting it up for the college lunchtime crowd for extra cash you know they don't have, but you don't have to drag innocent little Peach into your... dubious ways," she said, flipping her dark brown hair, and allowing it to fall back over one of her sparkling, blue eyes.
The two dancing girls immediately faltered in their step, and then froze to stare at her with hurt expressions plastered on their faces. Sonata, who was never very good with witty quips, opened her mouth to say something, but when words failed her, her gaze fell to the floor.
Peachy, noticing this, stroked Sonata's shoulder, and then turned an angry eye toward the brunette. "Hey! Lay off of her, Patti! She isn't being a slut, okay? What's wrong with liking to dance?"
"Nothing!" Patti said, feigning innocence as she shook her hands. "If you're good at it, that is."
"Oh yea?" Sonata managed to blurt finally. "Well, the customers like my dance, Patti. That's all that matters."
All three of the other girls laughed mockingly at her. One orange-skinned girl with green and brown streaked hair popped the gum she had been sluggishly chewing on. She rolled her brown eyes, and approached the group to stand next to Patti. "Come on, Son-ny," she cooed. "Are you really that naive? It isn't your jig that the customers like."
"Yea, it's your jugs," called the last girl from behind them both before all three of them broke out into hysteric laughter.
Wiping a stray tear from her eye, Patti quelled her laughing long enough to take a deep breath. "Amongst other things, that is. Aw, come on, Sonny. You're a cute girl. You've got assets, and you get your tips. Kudos to you. But let's not act all innocent about what it is you're doing. Crude manipulation, is what it is."
The former siren's raspberry-colored eyes darted back up toward Patti, now on fire. They peered at her sharply. As she watched the pungent, green vapors begin to emanate from the three sneering girls before her, her jaw tightened to hold back words she knew she was forbidden to say.
Sonata could decipher girls like Patti Mint and her cohorts, Pumpkin Spice and Candy Ice, all too well. It wasn't difficult. Envy was a very common human emotion, one rooted in the inability to accept one's own imperfections. Back in Equestria when she still had her full powers, Sonata would devour the energy of ponies with personalities like this as if they were mere snacks. Of course, once being banished to this world it was a bit harder, but still, these types were the easiest of them all to coerce into feeling inadequate, to compel to lash out negatively. They speak of manipulation? If only they had known her in her prime. With all of that foul energy that surrounded the girls, she would have quickly made mindless food bags out of each of them. Still, the jabs of these worthless words stuck her hard. For some reason they always did, even coming from strangers. Of course, she would forget after a while, but the feeling of not being accepted, of being shunned instead of loved, was something terrible to her. It was a soft and scarred over part of her heart that still pained horribly when prodded. Again, shaking ancient thoughts from her mind, she huffed heavily and stared away out of the glass door window, into the main dining area without speaking again to any of them.
The minutes passed by slowly, and as the former siren continued to look through the glass window, the orders for the other girls came up, one by one. Soon, only she was left waiting. The table of college fellows appeared to be finishing up their meal, and she sighed heavily thinking again about what Patti and her friends had said. It wasn't because it made her question her ethics. Despite what one would think, Sonata was very clear on what she wanted, and how she was willing to go about getting it. Instead, it was simply that horrid lack of acceptance that still bothered her.
Her sigh caught J.R.'s attention as he frantically tried to finish the last large order before his late afternoon break. He looked up to her quickly, only to catch her chewing her pinkie nail as she was apt to do whilst deep in thought. Attempting to double task, he decided to speak up. "You know, you shouldn't listen to those girls," he began after clearing his throat. "They're idiots."
This drew unexpected giggling from the pretty blue girl as his statement reminded her of something Adagio would say. She was quick to stifle herself upon viewing the confused expression upon J.R.'s face. "Oh, they're not idiots," she said wistfully, glancing again out of the small, round window. "They're just unhappy."
"Yea, well, that still isn't a good reason to take it out on you, but what do they know? Everyone else loves you, Sonny," J.R. said, trying not to sound too self conscious about making such a statement. "So, what does it matter that those three don't, right?"
At that moment, Sonata caught a glance of Patti through the glass as the brunette was turning to face her direction. Catching Sonata's gaze, Patti didn't hesitate to stick out her tongue in a mocking fashion at the glum, blue girl. She then turned to walk away toward another table.
"Right," Sonata muttered, smirking ruefully to herself.
The sound of J.R.'s voice faded into the distance as she caught sight of the table of young men once again. They had just pulled out their wallets, and were calculating a tip which they were placing in a separate pile.
Sonata watched the boys, unmoved as bill after bill fell into the pile, enamored grins on their faces. Big tip again, just as Peach had predicted, but to her it didn't matter. She already knew that those boys adored her, as they should, because naturally she was lovable. But she just couldn't tolerate, nor could she understand anyone who did not. And so, just like that, another preoccupation was born in her mind. Patti and her friends were all she could see at the moment, and the want of their love, the desire for them to know that she was a phenomenal person, took over. Her first inclination was to give them things, but she quickly shook this notion from her thoughts. She had fallen prey to such self-depreciating ideas in the past, and it had proven utterly detrimental. Suddenly, as if she were struck by some invisible force, a vision flashed before her eyes, and instead of dollar bills falling to the table, she saw gold Equestrian bits. Instead of the faces of young men, she saw the deeply entranced and enthralled faces of a crowd of cheering ponies. As her mind zipped back to the present, a once familiar and mischievous smile slowly spread across her face.
"Order up!" J.R. yelled right at that moment. The grin on his face evidenced how proud he was feeling about the speech he had given to Sonata which had mostly gone unheard.
Turning to smile brightly at him, Sonata approached, and snatched up the hoard of dishes onto her serving tray. "Thanks, J.R.!" she called as she winked at him, and disappeared through the door.
After hurrying off to deliver her latest batch of orders, Sonata then walked over to the now empty table where the young men once sat. There, she pulled out the bill payment as well as her tip. Quickly counting through the cash, she silently nodded to herself. This should be enough to cover it.
Waiting around the empty booth, out of the corner of her eye, Sonata watched as Patti finished up for the moment at one of her own tables, and headed back toward the kitchen. She then made her move. Acting quickly, she walked over to Patti's table where sat a rather kind-looking family, complete with a small boy. Once there, she smiled brightly and waved. "Afternoon, folks. I just came on over to personally say sorry for the long wait times we've been having today. We're down a cook, but we still hope that your service has been great!"
The man and woman looked at each other quizzically before passing an equally polite smile back to the cheery, blue girl. "Oh, everything's been fine! No problems at all with service!" said the man.
If the family would have looked closely at Sonata's face at that very moment, they would have noticed the small traces of dull irritation growing around her eyes.
"Not as off the charts as you, of course, but still good," the woman finished in a more soft, almost careful voice.
This made Sonata's eyes brighten up again. "Oh shucks, well, I just enjoy putting smiles on all of these faces. No, biggie. You all just let your waitress know if you need anything else," she said gleefully, turning to walk away. The family never caught the sudden, devilish look in her eye. "Hopefully, she won't take too long with your free sundaes."
She could almost hear the family blink to themselves. "W-wait a sec!" the man called. "What free sundaes? Our waitress didn't tell us about that."
Sonata grinned brightly, but hid it just in time to turn around, feigning a puzzled look. "For realzies? Well, because of the wait times, we've been offering our super duper, special free sundaes to customers. Gosh, that's the third time today she's forgotten." She waited just long enough to see the most disappointed of expressions growing upon the little boy's face. "Not to worry!" she exclaimed. "I'll get right on it for you. Actually, I'll bring them out first. Our customers' happiness is key!"
And with that, Sonata marched away to go put the sundaes together herself. Afterward, she quickly walked back out while the other waitresses, Patti included, rolled their eyes at how enthusiastic she always was about working this supposedly hum drum job. Reaching the table, she slid the delicious looking sundaes out to each of them. "Here you go! I even put a special treat on yours, little guy," she said with a smile, motioning toward the rainbow-colored sprinkles on the young boy's sundae.
"Wow! Thank you, lady!" the boy exclaimed right before he dug in.
"Well, you have just been absolutely fabulous," the woman breathed with a smile. "If you don't mind, would you wait for us for the rest of our time here?"
"Yea," the man continued. "To be perfectly honest, the last girl was kinda, yknow... rude."
"Marsh!" the woman scolded him. He quickly turned, cleared his throat, and began to eat his own sundae to fill his troublesome mouth.
Sonata could barely contain her smile at this point, but somehow managed to force a tortured look. "Well, if that is what you would like, then of course. The customer is always right after all!"
"See? Now that's quality service," the man said to his wife with a mouth full of ice cream, motioning toward Sonata. "Young lady, you keep up the great work, and expect a big tip." The man passed a wink to her as he glanced around jovially.
Sonata, feigning gratefulness, quickly thanked them, and headed back toward the cash register. Pulling out the tip money she had made prior, she punched in the amounts for the three desserts she had given them, and paid for them out of her tip money. She bit her lip self consciously. If Adagio ever found out about this, she knew she'd be in big trouble. However, considering the circumstances, everything inside of her agreed that this was something that must be done. As she watched Patti Mint exit the kitchen, once again, and walk up to the family's table, she paid close attention to their body language as they hastily informed her of their change in choice of waitresses. Something jubilant grew inside of her chest as she watched Patti spin around to pass a confused glare her way. The brunette then marched in a shamed rage back to the kitchen, trailing mounds of green energy smoke behind her, enough to make Sonata's mouth water. The blue girl watched her go, smiling brightly to herself. This just proved what she had been thinking all along. Not everything was about the money. Some things, after all, were about the principle.