Earlier that day, whilst brooding at the kitchen table, the plan had seemed quite clear to Adagio. She would be having three private classes that afternoon, and at each of them, would conduct a number of experiments to test whatever effectiveness, if any, was left in her shattered pendant. These enterprises were to be carried out in a variety of ways. For example, whilst instructing little Filene Forte, her first student of the afternoon, Adagio had begun her trials by attempting to sing an incantation outright as she clutched the box. Unfortunately, it seemed that the force that opened the lyrical wellspring in her mind, like the rest of her musical powers, no longer functioned in the way that she deemed it should. She could only gape down toward her own mouth in horror as it fumbled over her crude, unappealing words.
Won’t you come and obey,
M-my wishes and… whims,
On the… menu to—
"Oh, dear Discord..."
Obviously, this horrible excuse for a song had no effect on the little girl who stood there in Adagio’s shadow looking quite confused and afraid. The former siren then quickly excused herself to the bathroom to have a good vomit. Alright, so maybe lyrics would not come as innately to her as they would an undamaged siren. All this meant was that she would just have to apply a little more effort and preparation, that’s all.
When she returned from the restroom, her hair was gathered up into a large bun once again. Adagio couldn’t put her finger on why, but for the past two days, the feeling of her hair, hot against her body, and constantly brushing against her shoulders, had begun to irritate her. Like the extra fat on a slab of meat, or a hedge full of overgrown rose bushes, all of a sudden, the giant, orange mass had become somewhat of an unnecessary nuisance that drew her away from the extremely serious matter now at hand. Just like any other irritant, it needed to be out of the way; thus, she quickly resolved herself to keeping it up like this, at least for the time being.
Upon entering the living room where the piano was located, Adagio patted little Filene on the head whilst reassuring herself that the girl was far too young for any of the previous incident to have latched onto her long term memory. Surely, she’d forget the former siren’s singing had ever even happened.
“Go ahead, short stuff,” she said boredly as she took her place by Filene’s side at the piano bench. “Whatever it was we did last week, from the top.”
As the girl fumbled through her notes, much to Adagio’s dismay, the former siren bided her time by penning out fresh lyrics in her notation booklets. By the time the lesson was over, she had jotted down something that wasn’t as technical or beautiful as any of her siren incantations, but was still acceptable. Patting Filene on the head one last time, Adagio was quick to let the girl know how much work she still needed despite barely having heard a note of her playing. After all, if she were to err on the side of reason, then it was more likely than not that the child was just as lousy as any other 'mortalling' who had only known music for but a moment of their lives. Adagio bounded upward to leave. There was far too much to do today, and in too little a time.
Brownie, a little piano prodigy and whiz kid, was the student she tutored next. His mother, Ms. Bits, was a rather domineering, frightfully strict woman who, as far as the former siren could tell, was always trying to squeeze more tutors for skills no one really needed into her son’s life. Try as she might, the woman seemed unable to break him; however, this didn’t mean that Adagio didn’t find great humor in witnessing her many attempts.
The curly haired girl had to admit that despite the best efforts of both his mother and herself, what Brownie was able to pull off during his piano lessons was quite admirable for a mere mortal child. He had even, on one occasion, managed to outplay Adagio by a single note, purely by mistake. Of course, this didn’t sit well with her. Clearly, this kid was begging to be crushed. Consequently, she would enjoy torturing Brownie with the most difficult piano pieces she could find, just to see how his mother would react when he did happen to play that one incorrect note time and again. Every week was a new delight; concertos, sonatas, waltzes, and ballades would be passed his way in stacks along with a very quick deadline, all for Adagio’s wicked amusement.
“D. It’s a D sharp, Brownie!” she groaned. “How many times do I have to tell you?”
In truth, the boy had successfully gotten through six pages of a rather complex nocturne before, to Adagio’s glee, he stumbled right at the finish line. Looking rather exhausted, having played the tune no less than ten times during the session, the child turned to look up at his instructor with weary, pleading eyes. A cruel smile spread across her face as she leaned over to face him at eye level.
“A-gain,” she bid him, at which point Brownie released a heavy sigh, and started playing from the top.
Adagio had been having so much needed fun that she’d nearly forgotten about her experiment. Fighting off the urge to watch Brownie crash and burn one more time, the curly haired girl reached into the small purse she had brought along that day, and pulled out her gem box. Cracking it open, she poured the shards into her palm, and held them tight. She was willing to tolerate the sharp pain of the broken fragments if it meant discovering, or rather rediscovering, something about her powers.
Glancing at Brownie fuss and fume over his nocturne, Adagio decided that now would be the perfect time to test her abilities. The piano playing was boorish, and lacked intimacy, as usual for mortals; thus, she figured that if she were to sing quietly, no one would be able to detect her influences upon them. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, and squeezed her palm tighter around the shards.
From the pits of your mind,
I rise up and call to you.
Answer and obey me,
Do what I say to d—
“Ms. Adagio?” Brownie interrupted her, his piano playing coming to a halt. Adagio’s eyes shot open, irritation splashed across her face. For a moment, she had almost lost herself in her song. It had even nearly given her a comforting, familiar feeling reminiscent of her wielding Siren magic.
“What, Brownie?” she hissed.
“I… I don’t think I can play while you’re singing like—”
“I’m not singing! I’m… keeping track of your dynamics. Now, start over!”
The boy was startled into playing, delving deeper into the sheet music which, at this point, he had practically memorized. Taking a deep breath, Adagio turned around, and closed her eyes once again.
Your will flies away,
Like a bird in the winds…
Brownie, trying to speed through the nocturne, was nearing the end of the piece. As he approached the portion that he could never seem to get right, Adagio found her attention wavering between her own words and his playing.
And as I b… bore deeper,
One of her eyes popped open to angrily stare down the child as the tempo of the song began to slow. She felt her hands balling up into fists, the shards grazing her even deeper. Shaking her head clear, and closing her eyes again, she powered on.
And as I bore deeper,
Your little mind sp—aaAAH!
“D! It’s a D. Sharp. Brownie!” she interrupted herself, banging her fists down hard upon the board as the boy, once again, muddled up the ending. Aborting her mission, she quickly snatched up her gem box, placed the shards back inside, and turned to face the child. “For Chaos' sake, if I knew you were planning on butchering two hundred year old classics, I would have given you “Chopsticks” instead. Out of my way!”
Adagio, brandishing her curvaceous hips like a battering ram, bumped the boy clear off of the bench, and reseated herself in its center. Brownie, too exhausted and shaken to do anything but cower in Adagio’s line of sight, rolled away onto the floor, practically limp.
Her nimble fingers made the nocturne look easy. As she flipped through its pages, it was made clear that she had not even needed them to play. Staring daggers into Brownie’s eyes, she cleared a quarter, then half, then three quarters of the complex song until finally, she reached the portion that the child simply could not get right. Pausing, she pushed down hard upon the little, black key again, and again, trying to drill the point into the boy’s head.
“See? Far from rocket science,” she said, then leaning in to whisper. “So help me, Brownie, you’re gonna get this right. If not this century then the next. I’ll be here, you know!”
Brownie who, by this point, could only manage a frantic nod of his head, never expected the other voice that soon came booming from somewhere inside of the kitchen.
“Me too!” Ms. Bits could be heard yelling from the other room. Adagio smiled with satisfaction. By thunder, if the propensity for loving mortals still existed within her, that woman would have her heart.
The former siren sighed to herself later on as she walked down the street, headed toward her final lesson for the day. Twisting a frazzled finger through a loosened curl, she shook her head in frustration. So, the lesson at the Bits’ didn’t quite go as expected either, but it had only been the first day of her trials. Surely, things would soon turn around. Surely, Brownie would not always be able to pull her attention away so easily with his failures. Still, somewhere in the depths of her mind, Adagio knew, and perhaps didn't want to acknowledge her desperate desire to see some effect, some sign of progress as soon as possible.
As she walked, the girl wondered to herself if the urge to torment those who were weaker and more vulnerable than she was just too tempting to ignore. If this was the case, then she would have to be more realistic about which students she decided to test her capabilities on. Fortunately for her, the next and last student on her list wasn’t another tiny, snotnosed brat.
Striker was almost perfect—for a mortal. It was something even Adagio had to cede. He was the perfect cook, the perfect handyman, the perfect aspiring electronic musician, notably handsome, and obnoxiously humble about it. In addition to all this, he also happened to be the perfect young father. Of course, all of these things would not be complete without a perfectly gorgeous wife and home to go along with them. Even Adagio could only presume that had she, in the dawn of her life, had any desire for a common, yet comfy existence, this type of thing would have suited her well. Coming over every week to be subjected to the kind of warm contentment that seemed to float about Striker and his home filled Adagio with an emotion that she couldn’t quite place; it hovered somewhere between amused fascination and enraged jealousy.
He had been one of Adagio’s first students, and whilst he was hardly the greatest musician as far as technicality and ability were concerned, his love for the art was profound. It made her smile, and reminded her of a child experiencing pain or eating sweets for the first time. She found it all quite endearing and much needed, though she could and would never reveal this to anyone else. Being around her sisters for such a long time, she had all but forgotten that such depthful passions could exist in the mortal realm. In hindsight, it seemed so obvious. These creatures couldn’t wield musical magic, and most of them weren’t anything like the few superstars who belted out their sonic garbage in exchange for green paper and short lived notoriety. Why else, then, would the rest of them love music except for the joy it brought them?
She accepted that such a love mixed with such a power as a siren’s could not survive for long without, at least partially, becoming corrupted. If anyone could harp on about the ways in which Adagio, since the beginning of her life, had been driven to use her gift to gain what she desired, she would have been the most capable of doing so. Regardless, this did not stop her appreciation for song, and it did not hinder her from feeling refreshed to find someone new who was so infatuated and in love with music purely for the pleasure that it brought them. It was easy for Adagio to forget the inevitability of a siren’s perversion when she was present in Striker’s happy, little world.
Upon their meeting for the first time, she remembered that he had given her a rather in depth tour of his sprawling home studio whilst very nearly talking both of her ears off.
“This is my signed record collection. I’ve only got ten, but they’re all gems. This is my state-of-the art soundproofing. It just looks like foam, but you could crash a car in here, and no one outside of this room would ever know.”
Finally, after much babbling, the man walked over to what appeared to be a silver, eighty-eight key, electronic keyboard, glided a hand over its surface, and beamed with pride.
“This is my newest, and most prized addition. It’s actually why you’re here. I’ve tried playing around with it with what little skills I have, and its been disappointing to say the least. Well, I guess I mean I’ve been disappointing. It’s only a waste if I don’t learn how to play it, right?”
Full of skepticism, Adagio walked over to the instrument, and ran her fingers over its surface. She then pressed down onto the board, playing through a short, yet expectedly brilliant piece before admiring the fact that the keys were almost weighted like the real thing. However, never one to give too many compliments, especially to a modern twist of convenience on what she deemed to be a perfect instrument, she spun around to face him. The usual smirk was plastered upon her face.
“It’s no Steinway, but it’s not bad,” she sighed. “I suppose I can teach you on this.”
Striker beamed at her, and she felt the need to roll her eyes to save herself from genuinely smiling in return.
One would think that Striker, or anyone who was married, really, would be put off by Adagio’s looks, and the fact that they would often be left alone for long periods of time every week. Even someone like him must have known that this particular play’s setting and characters would, in any other circumstance, make for quite a scandalous performance. The former siren could not say that the notion of kicking up a little worry in this perfect little home didn’t slightly excite her chaos-starved heart. Yet, to either her increased astonishment or comfort—she couldn’t tell which—nothing ever happened. Striker, she should have known, would always act like the ideal gentleman that he was. Despite the fact that they would often sit rather close upon the studio seat, she never once caught him turning to lose himself in the smell of her perfume. Despite their fingers often bumping into one another’s upon the board, it seemed that he had no desire to take her hand in his. Even as she would toss about the usual insults that she threw at all of her students when they inevitably disappointed her, he always remained jovial, and took it all in stride. The negative energy that floated around him never exploded to give credence to any lustful thoughts or bitter frustrations he might have had about the former siren. Though this did often work to annoy her, Adagio had to admit that she also found it quite impressive.
To her dismay, when she entered the house that day, a sickly feeling seemed to descend upon her. Striker smiled brightly, as happy to see her as could be expected, and this only made her feel worse. It took her a moment to realize that what she was experiencing was guilt. She looked down at the bag she carried which contained her gem box, and bit her lip. She knew that the very real potential that she might, on this particular occasion, purposely bring chaos into his happy home was necessary if she wished to realize her abilities. The emotion was startling to her. At what point had she begun to care about the happiness of mortals?
“Adagio! You’re early today,” The green-eyed man said, moving aside to let her in. His genuine grin stung her, and she edged away as she entered.
“Yea, well, my last lesson ended early. The kid passed out from exhaustion or something. Idunno,” she shrugged, taking off her sweater. This drew a laugh from Striker until he could see, clearly, the grim and detached shadows splashed across her face.
“You alright? You look kind of… sick,” he asked worriedly, moving to stand in front of her. She didn’t want to meet his eyes, but slowly forced herself to look at him. Irritation began to grow inside of her as she regarded his expression. He actually cared about how she was feeling. Her, a broken, immortal, devourer of negative energy.
What a fool.
She rolled her eyes.
“Cripes, Striker, stop being such a damned saint all the time, will you? It's nauseating,” she said, then tossing her sweater into his hands before walking away toward the studio in a huff.
“That was better. It barely sounded like a cat running across the board this time,” Adagio sighed, trying to hide a self-indulgent smile. Striker began to laugh, and ran a hand over his jet black hair.
“Wow, did you actually use the word ‘better’ in a sentence? You’re getting soft,” he quipped.
Paying his words no mind, she swatted a hand in his direction. By this point, the man knew that this meant to slide over on the seat to give her room to play. Once again, she zipped through the concerto without glancing at the sheet music.
“See my wrists? They haven’t fallen. Keep your wrists up. Remember, that it is forte until page three when we move to piano,” Adagio began, once again showing off her prowess by playing impeccably while speaking at the same time. “Don’t just hammer the entire, damn thing like a circus bear. You have to follow the story of the music. It’s a tune dedicated to a secret lover. Can’t you hear it?”
Losing herself in the music, she smiled. This was one of her favourite concerto pieces despite its simplicity. Sure, it had been painful to listen to Striker butcher it for the first two weeks of him playing the thing, but as it came together, she found herself feeling something akin to pride in his progress. Of course, a mortal could never truly perfect or understand such a piece unless they were its creator. However, because she didn’t hate the man expressly as she did most of these “walking food bags,” she resolved herself to the attempt of making him understand. Maybe, out of curiosity, she wanted to know whether or not the propensity for loving music as deeply as a realized siren were possible in him. Her eyes went dreamy, and it seemed as if she had floated a million miles away as the song progressed through its stages.
“Here there is majesty; they discover their love for each other, and it’s unlike anything else they’ve ever witnessed. Then the despair at being wrenched apart. Short, sparse notes. Dark. Sharp. There is nothing in their lives that can fulfill them like each other,” she continued. Now, forcing herself to return to reality, she turned to face Striker who seemed to be observing her fingers with awe. His head nodded in amazement as if he finally comprehended what she was speaking of.
“Come here,” she commanded. “Now, you try playing from page three.”
She slid over quickly, hoping that in his new aura of understanding he might be able to improve upon the tune. Striker set his hands upon the board, and picked up the light, rolling melody from where Adagio had left off.
“Remember, piano. Here, they wait, and meet in secret. Soft notes. Don’t tap the keys, you idiot!” she exclaimed, swatting at his hands. Striker immediately corrected his mistake. “There. Slow. Legato. Long, drawn out like the night. Pianissimo here. You can hear their soft touches in the dark. Gradually it gains volume and power as if day approaches. Their frustrations at having to be parted grow, once more, and—”
“It’s like it explodes or falls apart,” Striker interrupted her, his head still nodding as he played, lost in his own thoughts. “The notes sound desperate, like running footsteps.”
Adagio’s gaze snapped to his face, her eyes wide. She slowly nodded her head in agreement.
“They run, and are caught. The ending, fortissimo, finally falls to a piano. The notes slow down, and end abruptly.”
“A struggle, and then… something bad happens. I can’t tell what. What is it?” Striker asked, trying to decipher what he was playing. Adagio’s head nodded slowly as her gaze seemed to float away to some distant place. She never even noticed her own eyes beginning to grow glossy with tears.
“They’re caught, and they die together,” she murmured as the song ended, and Striker placed his hands in his lap. The two of them seemed lost in the land that they had imagined, both watching the lovers that had now become so real in their minds, lying there, cold and stiff. For Adagio, the song implied far more than Striker, or anyone else but her sisters could ever know. A memory from long ago sunk in, and planted itself within her head. Despair seemed to grow on her face as the images became more and more vivid.
“It isn’t quite a happy ending. For them, there could be none, but in a way, there is peace because at least they had found a way to escape together.”
Her voice shook, and was so quiet that it startled Striker into turning to stare into her eyes. Noticing the tears therein, his brow furrowed. Clearly, the song wasn’t all the girl had been thinking about as she sat there. Something very real was on her mind.
“Adagio? What’s the matter?” he asked, opting to wave a hand in front of her dazed eyes instead of touching her, something she might have found inappropriate.
“Hm? Oh,” Adagio sighed as she snapped back into the present. She swiped at her own eye, and sniffed back her feelings. Looking away from him, she forced a smile. “I got lost for a moment. It’s one of my favorite pieces after all.”
It was clear that Striker wasn’t buying her story. His brow remained furrowed as he watched the former siren make a poor attempt at keeping a disapproving smile upon her face. Every time she tried, it seemed to melt into melancholy. Slowly, he reached his hand out to touch hers as she was gazing at the floor. When she felt his fingers upon her own, she instinctively snatched her arm away.
“Don’t,” she blurted ominously, staring daggers into his eyes. There was a long beat of silence before she decided to stand.
“Excuse me a moment,” she croaked before picking up her bag, and casually walking out of the room.
In the restroom, she rubbed her temples as she leaned over the sink basin, yet again splashing water upon her face and neck. Why was it that she was beginning to memorize the decor of all of her students’ bathrooms? Why did it seem as if, gradually, she was losing her fortitude to deal with these simple creatures, and their simple lives?
Sinking down to sit on the edge of the bathtub, she inwardly chastised herself for ever thinking it might be a good idea to teach Striker that piece in the first place. Those ancient thoughts, now so intertwined with her beloved concerto, came to mind once more . Then she shook her head free of them. What was done was done. What was the point of constantly despairing over that which she could not change? This question seemed to make sense; thus, it always annoyed her to acknowledge the fact that she had been asking herself the same thing for over two thousand years.
Glancing down at the bag that sat at her feet, Adagio sighed to herself as she realized that she had been neglecting that which she could possibly change long enough. She had not yet attempted to use her powers on Striker. Slowly, this understanding began to enrage her. How dare she allow herself to get lost so completely in the mortals’ silly, little world of tiny distractions to the point where she might forget her own beloved pendant? Disgusted with herself, her ire was then directed onto her seemingly irreproachable student.
That perfect little man, with his perfect little life was an offense. Why was it that someone like that got to enjoy themselves while she, someone far more beautiful, intelligent, and talented, had not been given the same opportunity? It would seem that he lived without a care in the world, and acknowledging that, she now resolved herself to trying her hardest to inject some worry into his life. No one was flawless, and if it were up to her, no one would live without experiencing deep regret or pain. Life was full of the stuff, and to somehow make it through unscathed seemed unnatural, reprehensible. She couldn’t fathom how, earlier, she had managed to feel anything resembling remorse about bringing chaos into his home.
Reaching into her bag, she pulled out the wooden box, cracked it open to ensure the safety of the shards, and then slammed it back shut. She stood, gathered the rest of her things, and exited the bathroom confidently. Her drive was restored, her anger renewed. She swore to the universe that if any powers remained inside of her, she would find a way to get to Striker.
Upon entering his studio, she found him absent-mindedly tapping at the keyboard, looking rather dejected. Knocking against the wall, she waited until he turned to look at her before she placed her hand on her hip. A devious smile grew upon her face.
“Enough of all this sad stuff. Why don’t we try something loud and fast, hm?”
She couldn’t help but laugh when she noticed Striker gulp down a lump caught in his throat.
The bus ride home was far more productive that day if she did say so herself. Adagio sat mulling over her notes of lyrics, records, and trial reactions, lost in such a haze of meditation and paper that she never even noticed her usual bus companion, Sunset Shimmer, gazing intensely upon her from across the aisle. There were far more pressing matters to attend to besides what sour expression “ol’ bacon-hair” was giving her today. For instance, there was the business of her trials with Striker which had proved to be quite fruitful.
Upon her return to the studio, she had broken out a new piece of music for him to pour over whilst she sang her “incantations”. The piece was quite loud, ensuring that she was less likely to be heard from where she decided to stand in the corner. She used the excuse that she did not want him to get used to her babying him during every lesson as the reason why she had decided to linger a ways back. Thinking nothing of this, Striker had begun to play.
At first, she had gotten the same disappointing results as she did with Brownie when she realized that, perhaps, the incantations did not work because they weren’t being heard. Thus, despite the ragged state of her voice, she resolved herself to singing in front of Striker in hopes that something might happen. Shooing him out of the way, as usual, she took her seat, and sang her odd song, disguising it as a piece she planned to have him learn later on; however, this only resulted in even more nervous and confused stares, not to mention inquiries as to whether she had begun taking some new form of medication. It was frustrating. It was humiliating. She thought she could endure rejection, but then she remembered that she’d never before been rejected for her music.
She had turned upon him, inquiring as to whether or not he had been feeling any strange sensations, or whether any random urges had entered his mind at all. He had denied it, edging away from her uneasily. The urge to throttle him became nearly unbearable. How could he not have felt anything? The bond was still intact, the wellspring still unbroken!
It was then that she had noticed herself beginning to sweat, her heartbeat beginning to race. Adagio felt like she had gouged herself in the chest all over again. Rarely had she ever felt anything resembling desperation or panic, but the constant reminder that she had little to no control over what was happening to her, little to no say about the way her world might turn, seemed to batter her worse than any physical blow she’d ever received. Feeling her face growing hot, she approached him.
“You’re either lying or don’t know what you’re talking about,” she began in a low murmur, pointing an accusing finger in his direction. Striker held his hands up in defense.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied trying to keep the calm in his voice.
“I’ve been singing, albeit poorly, but still it doesn’t have any effect? How can that be? That’s impossible. My music has never been rejected,” Adagio continued, not realizing that she had absent-mindedly made a rhyme. “Striker, come on. You have to understand… You have to feel...
This is what I need. This is the only thing left,
That can prove to me that my bond is still r—”
She gasped, and clasped her mouth shut with her hand, realizing what had just happened. Staring into Striker’s eyes, she saw nothing but the same confusion and fear as before, but in that single, spectacular moment, it no longer mattered. She watched as he silently edged toward the studio door, and opened it, a stern look gathering about his green eyes.
“Adagio, I think it’s best if we end it here today. I think you need to go home, and rest.”
She hadn’t remembered how she’d managed to get outside without forgetting all of her belongings. She did remember throwing up in the bushes on Striker’s front lawn before ambling her way toward the bus stop. It was there that the wellspring of ideas began to pour out of her. She was quick to pull out a pen, and let them all fall upon paper.
Perhaps it was the feeling of fear or desperation that had influenced her. Maybe the musical inspiration would only come when it was in her own defense. Or maybe, her powers were just weakened, and needed a bit of help, something to open the emotions. Alcohol perhaps? No, that didn’t seem like a sustainable concept at all. Perhaps more than one voice was now necessary for the incantations to actually prove useful. Should she pose these ideas to Sonata and Aria? Immediately, she decided against it. Such presuppositions were sure to ignite anger and confusion from her sistren unless she could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their powers were, in fact, still functioning. As much as she wanted to tell her companions about what had happened, even she knew that action with no result was useless no matter which part of the multiverse they existed in.
Lost so deeply in her work, Adagio didn’t catch Sunset Shimmer finally getting to her feet, and casually walking over to seat herself behind her to get a better look at what she had been doing. Had she not heard one of the buckles on the girl’s leather jacket click against the chair, she would have never even noticed. Her eyes going wide at the sound, she quickly covered all of her papers over with notation booklets, and spun around to glare directly into the fiery-haired girl’s eyes. Sunset only seemed fazed for a split second before her moxie returned. She settled into her seat, arms crossed defiantly.
There was a brief pause as they both lingered on the fact that they had not spoken to one another for months, not since the Battle of the Bands. The last time they talked, Adagio had been a different, less desperate, more confident siren. She still had her powers, and at least an inkling of respect from her compatriots. Today, she had little to none of those, and it was Sunset Shimmer who was the one to be blamed for ending a two millennia-long legacy. Adagio’s mouth gawked open, and closed repeatedly as her eyes scanned the girl, trying to decide exactly what her first words to her should be. Her face settled into a resolved grimace.
“I’ve lost my ability to draw attention from you mortals, and yet your obsession with me somehow increases. I must be the luckiest girl in the world,” Adagio murmured, sarcasm leaking from her voice. Turning back around, she began to put her papers away. Sunset remained unmoved. The scrutinizing look she was giving the former siren never eased up.
“You know me,” Sunset began. “Whatever grabs your interest, grabs my suspicion. What is it that’s got you so distracted there, anyway?”
“I’m sorry,” Adagio said with a covert roll of her eyes, “I must have missed the part about oweing you explanations.”
“That’s fine. I’ve got time to kill,” Sunset replied, purposely leaning forward onto Adagio’s seat, and resting her head upon her folded arms.
Adagio resisted letting out an audible growl. Clearly, the girl was trying to get under her skin. Regaining composure, she spun around, and brought her face close to Sunset’s. That sly, signature smile was plastered upon her face.
“You sure you want to be seen with me like this? People will talk you know. They might think we’re a secret item.”
“I thought you knew all about me,” Sunset retorted with a snort. “If you did, you’d know that I never cared much about what others said about me.”
“Good. Then you won’t mind this: Keep your tacky jacket, and your expired hair out of my personal affairs, and we’ll get along just swimmingly. Got it?”
Adagio climbed up onto her knees in her seat, edging toward the amber-skinned girl. Sunset, not being one to take threats lying down, leaned in some more as well.
“Or else you’ll do what? Oh, wait, that’s right. You can’t do much of anything anymore, can you?”
Adagio visibly faltered for only a moment, but long enough for Sunset to take notice. Detecting an aura of sadness surrounding the former siren, she could not help but feel a little guilty. Adagio didn’t bother to respond at this point. Her gaze fell toward the floor, and she turned around in her seat to sit quietly. Sunset wrestled with herself over what she should say next in order to make things right. Realizing that nothing she said would be able to do such a thing, she resolved herself to sticking to the point.
“Look, I… I’m just making sure you’re not up to no good. I’m not going to sit here, and pretend like I don’t know what you were capable of in the past. We’re both Equestrian. We both know the stories. I can’t allow anything like that, or what you pulled at the Battle, to happen again,” she said, accepting the fact that there was no way this conversation could be anything but uncomfortable.
“Why? Because you’ve sold yourself the lie that you’re now a good person, and that people actually accept you? Please, Sunset Shimmer. You and I both know that bad memories are hard pressed to fade, and old habits die hard. I wonder how sparkly your reputation is back in good, old Equestria.” A glimmer of amusement had entered Adagio’s voice as she said this.
Sunset felt her muscles stiffening with anger. Choosing to take the higher road, she took a deep, calming breath, and regained her composure. Her words now came slowly and carefully in an attempt to not inspire more impatience within either of them.
“No, that’s not it. I just wanted to make sure that—”
“So, you’ve made sure! Now, go away,” Adagio spat. There was a pause. She didn’t bother to begin packing her papers away again until she heard the sounds of Sunset reluctantly getting up, and moving back across the aisle to her original seat. Then, turning to face the window, the former siren sighed to herself whilst lamenting her currently obliterated vigor for her secret project. It was even more annoying that it had been Sunset who, once again, had found a way to ruin things for her. Even now, she could feel the girl’s gaze still burning into the side of her face. There was no way that she could continue her work under this nosey wretch's watch. Perhaps her evening spent at home would not be as bad as it had been the night before.
Aria sat on the recliner, rolling a toothpick around in her mouth as she flipped through the channels on the T.V. The sound of screaming and chainsaws filled the living room as she found what she had been looking for. Fortunately for her, her horror movie marathon had not yet ended. Yet, despite her delight at the sight of some good, old fashioned, grindhouse gore, her eyes couldn’t help but occasionally dart upward toward the kitchen where Sonata was now fixing dinner. The younger girl had remained in her state of deep introspection ever since their encounter with Patti Mint earlier on. Usually, something like this would not be enough to draw any of Aria’s attention, except for the fact that, right now, Sonata was cooking food that they would all have to eat. From where Aria was sitting, the combination of all of these factors made for quite a harrowing viewer experience, enough to draw her away from the blood and guts currently on the tube.
As she watched each time Sonata reached into a nearby cupboard to grab something in a bottle, Aria worked out in her mind whether or not that particular ingredient made sense with the others she was using.
Salt and garlic powder. Harmless, enough.
The powders disappeared over the edge of a large, bubbling pot that sat on the stove. Expectedly, the blue girl reached into the cupboard once again.
Cayenne and… cinnamon? Well, cinnamon can be savory I suppose. Geez, not so much, you idiot!
Aria bit down hard upon the edge of the toothpick, nearly breaking it. Her hands gripped the rests on the recliner. She watched in dread as Sonata reached up one more time into the cupboard, and nearly choked when she saw the girl absent-mindedly pull down a bottle of chocolate syrup. Popping it open, she moved to turn it over the boiling pot before Aria bolted upward, and raced toward the kitchen to stop her.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she yelled, putting herself between Sonata and the pot. The younger girl looked at her in confusion.
“What do you mean? I’m making chicken and dumpling soup,” Sonata answered plainly.
“With chocolate syrup?” Aria asked, pointing to the bottle in her hand. Sonata glanced at the thing, and then proceeded to laugh bashfully.
“Oh! How did that get in my hand? Could have sworn it was honey.”
“Honey?” Aria croaked. “Why the— You know what? Nevermind.”
The dour-faced girl stared into the bubbling pot just to make sure that the current ingredients looked acceptable. Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned to give her sister a questioning look.
“No, actually, I do want to know. Why do you need the honey?”
“I was trying to thicken it up. I’m so used to brothy soups. That’s the only kind I’ve ever made. There was this guy on T.V. who made his thick with something, but I can’t remember what. I was thinking maybe I should try it so it will last longer,” the younger girl blabbed on, squirting a bit of chocolate syrup onto the tip of her finger, and popping it into her mouth. “Mm! Good!”
Aria rolled her eyes. With a sigh, she reached upward toward her hair, pulled it back, and tied the entire thing into a long ponytail. Edging toward the cupboard Sonata was standing in front of, she used her slender hips to bump the girl out of the way.
“Beat it, sister. I’ll show you how it’s done,” she stated, then reaching up into the cabinet.
Taking the opportunity to turn the entire chocolate syrup bottle over into her mouth, Sonata quickly gulped the sweet, sticky liquid down, wiped her lips with the back of her hand, and glanced again at the older girl. Aria was now standing before her holding a large, white paper sack in one hand, and two, small, golden cubes in the other.
“Flour and bouillon—your two best friends,” Aria stated matter-of-factly as she turned, plopped the two cubes into the enormous pot, and then yanked open the sack of flour. Leaning against the counter with her hip, she unceremoniously tipped the sack over the pot, and began to sprinkle it in. The intrigued smile on Sonata’s face slowly melted into one of apprehension as she stared at the amount of flour Aria was adding. The elder girl, who had been boredly gazing into a corner, caught Sonata’s eye, and shrugged.
“What? We didn’t have cornstarch!”
“No, that’s not it,” Sonata began cautiously. “Um, are you sure that you should be using that much?”
Aria stopped pouring, and huffed in the blue girl’s direction.
“What is the most people… or ponies, that you’ve ever cooked for at one time?” the dour girl asked her, placing a hand on her hip.
“Umm… like... fourteen?” Sonata replied, taking a moment to quickly think over the past millennia and a half.
“Right. I’ve made meals for a hundred, multiple times. We’re not exactly rich as kings here. There are tricks to this sort of thing,” Aria quipped turning her attention back to the pot, and beginning to sprinkle the flour again. Sonata giggled.
“I keep forgetting that you were a lunch pegasus once. I still can’t imagine it,” she murmured, being careful not to delve too deeply into stories about the girl’s roots. Aria grimaced.
“I was not a lunch pegasus,” she growled, finally folding over the flap of the flour sack. “I was a frikkin scullery pegasus.”
Pushing past Sonata again, whilst taking a moment to snatch the chocolate syrup out of the girl’s hands, she placed both items back into the cupboard, and closed it shut.
“Stir it around, cover the lid, and let it boil for ten minutes,” she commanded whilst heading back toward the living room to catch the rest of her movies. “And how about saving your spaciness for your own time, okay?”
By the time Adagio walked through the door looking rather grim and pensive, Sonata had already set the table for Aria and herself. When she spotted the expression on the curly-haired girl’s face, the youngest siren figured it wise not to speak for fear of being reprimanded. Her eyes darted toward Aria whose entire being had grown dark and indignant at the very sight of the eldest girl. Sonata knew then that it would be best to stifle herself from addressing either of them. The feeling of nervousness that descended upon her made her reaction quick and instinctive; the relieving visage of Patti Mint’s face popped into her mind’s eye once again. Soon enough, even she was brooding.
As Aria watched Adagio remove her sweater and purse, hanging one up, and plopping the other onto the floor, she rolled her eyes in disdain. She had been hoping to quickly eat her dinner while finishing her movie, and then disappear upstairs before the eldest girl ever arrived. Aria grimaced as she acknowledged the fact that her plan was now shot, as was her current mood. Having made a habit of mentally deleting herself from situations she had little patience for, she silently got up off of the recliner, strolled over toward the table, took her seat, and began to eat.
After Sonata had whipped up a bowl of soup for Adagio, and placed it at her spot on the table, she took her own seat, and waited for the eldest girl to sit down. Looking into her lap, she began to peel sticky bits of flour from off of her fingers as her mind continued to wander.
Adagio, not in the mood to tolerate the loud sounds of screams and knife stabbing blaring from the television, didn’t think twice about walking over to turn the thing off. She never noticed Aria bearing down, gripping her spoon tightly with rage, still too spiteful to say even a word to her. Turning about, the eldest girl then walked toward the table, looked at the two moping girls, and figured that it was her own presence that was causing the trouble. Resentfully, she thought to pick up her bowl, and head upstairs if that would be sure to end the silent crisis, but at the last minute she decided against it. Why should she let anyone make her feel self conscious for simply existing? After all, none of them were perfect, either.
Clearing her throat, and slowly taking her seat, Adagio picked up her spoon, resigning herself to also eating in silence. As each of the girls looked about the table, unwilling or unable to talk, the events of their day replayed themselves over in their minds. Gradually, something akin to shame descended upon them all as they each came to the realization that their own pride had made it easy to speak with everyone and anyone else, even sworn enemies; however, it had rendered it nearly impossible for them to say a word to the ones they knew best, the ones who needed to hear their voices the most—each other. Now, sitting so close to one another, the three former sirens, eternal sisters bonded by seas, strife, and song, had never been more aware of how very distant and alone they had become.