Fluttershy was still badly flustered even through first period, the chocolate bar she'd brought doing little to alleviate the heat in her face or the rapid beating in her chest. Luckily, having established to Ms. Inkwell that she wasn't just hiding a comic book or something early in the year, she wasn't disturbed for hiding behind her textbook the whole time. The rest of the day up to lunch went similarly. She continued to not forget what she saw up close that morning, the details of Adagio's leg muscles showing through her tights, the way she arched her back, the exposed skin on her neck and-
She smacked her head on the lunch table, hoping it would clear away the wayward thoughts lingering in her brain.
"You okay, Fluttershy?" Rainbow lightly poked her shoulder a few times.
Unfortunately, such an action has a way of drawing attention, but it was always nice to be reminded how much her friends cared about her. She looked up to see five concerned faces, giving them the best smile she could despite a light red mark on her forehead. "I-I'm okay, j-just, um, sleepy?"
Sunset gave her a dubious look. "You sure? You've been kinda jittery for the past week."
Applejack nodded in assent. "Been shakin' like a leaf today. You sure ain't nothin' buggin' ya?"
She lowered her head a little. "Uhm, n-no, I'm fine, thank you."
Pinkie gave her a worried look. "Is that like fine fine, fine-China fine, pointy-fine, or not-fine-at-all-but-I-don't-want-you-to-worry-about-me fine?"
Applejack frowned with concern too. "Ya gave us that last one a couple'a times before, sugarcube. You sure ain't nobody givin' ya a hard time?"
Rarity spared a sideways glance to the table three particular girls (and just those three) were known to sit around lunch time. "I can think of a few possible suspects off the top of my head..."
Fluttershy's world slowed down. She could see the next ten minutes play out in the blink of an eye, starting with her friends collectively getting the idea that the Dazzlings had been picking on her, (it was only one, kind of) deciding to go over and confront them about it, Aria and Sonata having no idea what's going on and getting angry about the disturbance, them and her friends starting to fight, then Adagio laughing that scary laugh that made Fluttershy's heart beat irregularly. Her friends would assume it meant Adagio had done something to her, she'd stand up, look Fluttershy in the eye, and say "Oh, Sweetie, did you tell on me? Well, I suppose I'll just have to be honest with them..."
"No!" Fluttershy jumped up, slapping both hands on the table a little harder than she'd meant to. "No one is bothering me, especially not those three! It's just normal old scaredy-cat Fluttershy, really! I know they gave us trouble a while back, but they've all been really well-behaved since-" she shrunk back a little, "w-well, mostly- since the concert! I know they haven't been perfect, but they'll never get any better if we never give them a chance!"
The group, combined with the four or five other people in the cafeteria that could actually hear Fluttershy talking, blinked in surprise.
Sunset scratched the back of her head. "She's probably right. I talked to them a while back and I'm almost sure that they don't want to hurt anyone." She blinked once. "Well, that is to say, any harm they do cause probably isn't on purpose."
Rarity propped her head up with an arm on the table, her expression only a little skeptical. "Not that I mean to doubt you, darling, but how do you know?" She glanced at Fluttershy with a look that said she was just worried. "Just for our peace of mind."
Looking over at the Dazzlings, just the three of them at that table again, Sunset shrugged. "Well, remember why they're sitting alone in the first place?"
In the first week the Dazzlings decided to attend school again, they'd collectively walk into the cafeteria at lunch time, pick a random table, and sit down. Every time, anyone else at the table they'd chosen would immediately clear out the moment one of them spoke. Then they would try again the next day. There were only two tables exempt from this little process; those seating Flash Sentry due to having no available room, (Flash was still a pretty popular guy) and the one seating the Rainbooms, for some other reasons none wanted to ask to the trio's faces.
Within the first week, they got the idea to have one of them approach first to soften up those already seated. Unfortunately for the Dazzlings, people may have clued in that that was exactly what they were doing the first time Aria walked up to the athletes' table.
"Room for a few more here?"
That they got right up and relocated to a different table summarily answered the question.
"Hey, you guys mind if we sit here?"
Six seconds passed before the table was clear.
Aria called after them. "So, you don't mind and it's fine if we get the whole table, or you do mind and you're going somewhere else...?"
"Hey, we're just gon-"
Slapping her hands flat on the table, Aria scowled at those seated. "Don't run!"
Once the usual thing had happened, a little faster than normal, Adagio crossed her arms. "Hmph. Clearly, you're just too intimidating for them, let me do the talking next time."
"I'm Adagio Dazzle."
Those at the table shared a quick look. "Nnnope!" And then they fled.
"Hel-lo there, would you girls mind if-"
Aria rolled her eyes as the trio again sat at a recently-emptied table. "Not bad, Adagio, that group lasted maybe four seconds longer than the rest."
She sighed. "Thanks."
The next day, Sonata gave it a try. "Hi! Okay if we sit here?"
Sonata managed to sit with them a whole five seconds before the table residents shakily agreed that yes, it was okay, and got up to leave.
Adagio smiled a little. "I think I smell progress."
"Eh," Aria said with a shrug, "might just be the coleslaw."
"No, really," Adagio went on with an increasingly diabolic grin, looking at Sonata, "you might have the friendliest face of the three of us. If we send you in first to soften them up, we'll be making friends all over the place in no time!"
Sonata had a bad feeling, but had to agree; she wasn't sure Adagio's spooky smile would be good for friend-making. Nor that she had just broadcasted her thoughts for the entire cafeteria to hear. Laughing maniacally wasn't making it better...
They had Sonata try again the next day. "Weather's great today!"
"Yes," the table's residents agreed, "the weather is nice today! We'll go have a closer look. Right now!"
"Nice day, huh?"
This group hung around looking jittery for a full minute after all three Dazzlings were seated before scrambling to get away.
Sonata had a big smile on her face. "It's so great when people don't run away! Don't you guys think so?"
That table cleared out in record speeds.
The three sitting with just each other (not that they were complaining, exactly) again, they shared a group sigh. Adagio rested her head in her hands. "Sorry, girls."
Sonata gently rubbed her shoulder. "It's not your fault, Dagi, apart from the crazy laughing thing."
Adagio's head sunk lower.
Aria had a better idea of how to cheer her up. "Don't feel bad, they were running from us even before that. I don't think it matters how we come at them, they all still think we're up to something."
Sonata indignantly crossed her arms. "Which we're totally not!" But just to double-check... "Right?"
Adagio looked up, shaking her head. "No point, remember?"
"And I'm happy to hear that!" The Dazzlings looked up to see Sunset Shimmer giving them a sheepish little 'hello!' wave. "I just wanna talk for a minute." As the trio shrugged, she took that as acceptance. "I've been watching you guys the past couple weeks here, why don't you come sit with-"
Adagio held up a hand, not making eye-contact. "Look, it's not that we don't appreciate being given a chance, but we'll form social links on our own."
Not sure how to change their minds and not wanting to risk making them resentful, Sunset opted to heed their wish, turning to walk away. As she did, she heard a whisper that made her smile a little.
They didn't want to join her friends for lunch and Sunset didn't push them. She had a feeling she knew what the biggest problem would be, and it was something the Dazzlings would have to tackle for themselves.
"So," Sunset summarized, "I think, at the very least, they're trying."
Rarity nodded, smiling. "Well, suppose we'll just have to give them the benefit of the doubt."
Conversation moved on from there, the group accepting Fluttershy-is-Fluttershy for the reason she seemed so... Fluttershy, lately. Having calmed down enough to stop shaking, she'd wondered what those girls were up to the days she'd seen people up and leave their usual tables, and now she knew. Was Adagio's daily teasing just her way of trying to make friends? Or had she already given up on the chance, content to torment people just for kicks?