“Lame, trash, garbage, rubbish, bollocks…” Aria prattled off as she dug deeper into the recesses of her closet. Why was it that every beloved piece of clothing she owned had suddenly become so unappealing? Not that she was in the business of dressing for loveliness’ sake, but right now it seemed that the urge had struck her to actually care about how she presented herself.
She was expected at Cookie’s in about an hour, and to anyone who might have happened to look in on her at that moment, running around completely disheveled and pantless, they would have assumed that she was already well prepared for a quiet and secluded night at home in front of the T.V. Eventually, enough time had whittled down for the former siren’s desperation to kick in. Weary about how much energy she was putting into acting like a fool, she sighed to herself, reached into her closet, grabbed a handful of items, and tossed them onto her bed so that she might sift through them.
Initially, Aria was annoyed by how much she subconsciously disliked the idea of dresses until she actually put one of the two she owned on. It was a slinky, little, purple thing that Adagio had picked out for her back when they had been working a stint performing at a big nightclub in New York. She glanced into the mirror, and immediately shrank into herself. She couldn’t deny that she looked absolutely amazing, like the goddess she used to be, but damn if this wasn’t too much skin for this. Aria knew herself. She would be hoisting her hems down all night if she wore this. It was too gaudy anyway.
“How the hell did Adagio ever get me to go outside in this?” she muttered to herself. “I swear to the spirits, she fantasizes about making a small harem out of us. Might as well just go naked.”
Already too disgusted with herself for words, Aria wrenched the thing off, and stared listlessly down at the rest of the items on her bed. She sighed, and rolled her eyes. Why was she taking this so seriously? It wasn’t like Cookie actually felt the same way about her or anything, right? Besides, this was Cookie. She’d probably answer the door looking exactly as she had at work that afternoon.
Feeling a bit less anxious, she opted to put on a nice pair of black jeans and a snug tank top before calling it a day. Now, what in the name of chaos was she going to do about her face and hair?
Aria barely noticed the sound of the front door slamming, and aggressive stomps coming up the stairs. She deduced that it must have been Sonata since Adagio had long since taken her weird, ritualistic bath, and disappeared into her room for the evening without supper. The sound of perturbed grumbling grew louder as her sister made her way down the hall toward the bathroom. Apparently, she had caught a peek into Aria’s room as the dour siren had just been putting the finishing touches onto her pigtails and black-as-death lipstick.
“Wow!” Sonata exclaimed, forgetting her troubles for the moment as she rushed to Aria’s bedroom door. The elder girl immediately rolled her eyes and sighed.
Here we go…
“Ari you look so... pretty! You going out? Where’re you going?” Sonata asked, then lowering her voice, and leaning into the doorway to assure that Adagio would not hear. “Can I come too?”
Aria sighed. Sonata was lucky that she was in a relatively good, though anxious, mood that evening.
“Thanks, and nope. I’m going to Cookie’s,” the elder girl stated, only barely paying attention to her sister before grimacing at herself in the mirror. “Besides, I don’t like you, remember?”
“Cookie?” Sonata blurted in confusion, having long since learned to ignore a great deal of her sister’s slander. “Oh! You mean that loud chick you work with that looks like a pile of leftover caramel and marshmallows from Sugarcube Corner?”
“That would be her. Ugh! Everything is so. Fucked. Up!” the elder girl yelled, suddenly pulling her hair out of its bands.
Forgetting the conversation, she quickly snatched up a previously discarded piece of paper from the floor, and began rubbing everything off of her face, leaving the entire thing covered in black smudges. Exasperated, she turned to fetch more supplies from her dresser before catching sight of the knowing smile that had begun to stretch across Sonata’s face.
“Ooooh, I get it now,” Sonata murmured with glee. “You’re in loooove!”
Aria’s black splattered eyes went wide.
“Shut the hell up! I’m just going to get a free meal!”
“Lemme help!” Sonata blurted, bouncing up and down.
“Oh, come on, Aria! Let me do your hair! I’ll make you look so awesome! Pleeease?” the younger girl began to plead. Aria scoffed.
“First of all, I already look awesome,” she began, motioning toward her bedraggled hair, and black smeared face. “Secondly, you’re out of your mind if you think I’d let you within three feet of my head. I don’t want to end up bald. Now, get out of my room!”
Sonata pouted. Aria found it simple to avoid the girl’s penetratingly cute gaze until she fell to her knees, hands clasped in a begging pose.
“Sonata, what the hell are you doing?” Aria sighed, finding herself quickly losing patience.
Sonata didn’t answer. Her lip simply trembled.
“Stop making that face right fucking now,” the elder girl threatened, crossing her arms.
Sonata’s eyes went wide and teary.
“You’ll be so pretty, Ari! Come ooon! You haven’t gone on a date like this in, what, four decades? I’ll make you so perfect!”
After a beat of silence, Aria rolled her eyes, and sighed, staring up toward the ceiling.
“I swear, if you so much as yank out a strand, I’m going to pummel you... repeatedly… And it’s not a date,” she muttered, moving to collect the items from her dresser for Sonata to use, and then sitting upon her bed. The younger girl jumped up with a squeal of glee, and to Aria’s confusion, ran from the room. A few moments later, she returned with a handful of her own supplies. Aria, a bit wary, offered up her own handful to Sonata who promptly proceeded to slap them away onto the floor.
“Get that outta here! I’m gonna make you look like a fairy queen! Except… you know… a gloomy one that creeps people out like all the stuff you like!” the blue girl exclaimed dropping tons of glosses and glitter all over Aria’s bed.
“Sonata...” Aria growled nervously.
Realizing she had, perhaps, put on too much enthusiasm for her sister’s tastes, the blue girl cleared her throat, and attempted to calm down.
“Whoops! Sorry. Got excited for a minute there, but I swear, you’re gonna like it. Trust me.”
Recoiling ever so slightly as the wildly grinning younger girl approached her with a myriad of brushes, and strange metal objects, Aria grit her teeth, and clenched her eyes shut, praying to the Old, Nameless Ones that somehow she might survive the ordeal.
For some reason, the silence that ensued between them became unnerving. Perhaps it was because they both knew each other so well. It seemed that there was so much to be said that their own silly feelings of resistance toward each other were made obvious. Considering all that had happened at her job the past week, Aria’s hand once again travelled up to that odd space upon her shoulder, beginning to run the line of the healed dagger scratch. Recognizing her sister’s nervous tick, Sonata’s brow furrowed when she saw this. Hesitantly, she took a deep breath.
“Something’s wrong,” she murmured whilst running a comb through her sister’s long hair. “What is it?”
“Huh? What do you mean? Nothing’s wrong,” Aria said, turning her head slightly to the side.
“Well, you’re touching that… thing. You always do that when you’re thinking about the old times.” Sonata paused for a moment. “Are… are you thinking about... you know who?”
A weak scoff escaped Aria.
“Midnight Swift. You can say his name. Hearing it doesn’t bother me anymore. And no, I’m not.”
Sonata winced at the sound of the name. She’d, of course, never known the pegasus stallion those many lifetimes ago, but over the ages, as her sister revealed, bit by bit, all of the terror he had wrought upon her in the dawn of her life, a strangely vicarious aversion to the thought of him had grown within the younger girl. She supposed that maybe now she might even be more sickened at the thought of him than Aria was. To her sister, Swift had been her reality; he had actually happened to her. But there was a sense of limitation when it came to reality, constraints that weren’t there when one tried, instead, to imagine something that seemed too horrible to be real. Sonata trying to fathom Swift only made the image of him warp, and change into something of unrealistic proportion, a surreal nightmare.
“G-good,” the blue girl stammered, exhaling in relief as she finished up with Aria’s hair, and moved toward her front to start on her makeup. “What is it then? Something about the dreams? The beach?”
Aria tried her best not to stare daggers into her sister. It always perturbed her how unaware and uncaring the younger girl seemed toward the silent boundaries that others put around themselves. The constant prodding, the lack of tact with her cheery-toned questions always carried the potential to be infuriating, and often proved to be with Aria. Perhaps it was time for the girl to get a taste of her own medicine. The dour siren forced herself to take a deep breath as she closed her eyes, and allowed Sonata to begin dabbing at her face.
“How’s that Patti girl you want so much?” she asked, completely blowing off Sonata’s previous statement. “Heard you stomping around a while ago. Things not going so well down at Sammy’s?”
She smirked with satisfaction when she felt Sonata’s body tense. There was a long silence.
“She’s… alright,” Sonata muttered, barely above a whisper. Aria had assumed that she wouldn’t care what her sister’s reply would be as long as she was annoyed; however, when she heard the ominous tone in her voice, she couldn’t help but feel perturbed.
“Have you thought about what I told you the other day?” the elder girl asked.
“Mhm!” Sonata lied, layering on the cheer just a bit too thick whilst putting the finishing touches on her sister. “Oh my gosh, you look amazing!”
Aria cocked an eyebrow at Sonata’s clear attempt at changing the subject. Since the younger girl and she had apparently made the subconscious decision to act cordially toward one another for the time being, she decided she should at least make yet another attempt at gently prodding her in the right direction.
“Sonata, I’m gonna say something to you once, and only once, and if you ever tell anyone that I said it, especially the queen bee over there, I swear I’ll declare war on you for the next century and a half. Got it?”
Sonata said nothing; thus, Aria, ruminating behind closed eyelids, assumed she had silently agreed.
“I know you’ve always had a thing about acceptance, and I get why rejection is hard for you. I get why you want that Patti girl for yourself. But now that we don’t have our powers anymore, I think it would be wise for you to realize that you don’t really need the acceptance of mortals like Patti to know that you’re worth not being used… or hurt. Even if you didn’t have all those awful mortal companions that you always keep around you, that still wouldn’t mean that what Fylleion and his wife did to you was justified. It wasn’t; it never will be. You don’t have to be loved to know that you’re worthy of it.”
Aria took a deep breath, and exhaled, still not believing that she had said all of that to Sonata, of all beings. Waiting anxiously for a reply—any reply—she quickly became perturbed again when the other girl didn’t answer, but instead chose to continue fiddling with her sure to be ridiculous makeup. The loudest of silences passed between them for what seemed like forever before Aria felt Sonata take a step away from her face.
“You’re done, Ari! Why don’t you go have a look?” the blue girl finally blurted, all evidence of a reaction to elder girl's words void from her tone of voice.
Realizing she wasn’t going to pull any further conversation on the matter out of her sister, Aria sighed heavily, and decided to let the issue go. Turning toward her mirror, she stood up, eyes still closed.
“Alright, Sonata, but I’m warning you. If I look like one of those kid show princess thingies, I’m gonna cut off your—” Aria stifled herself as her eyes opened, and she gazed upon the magnificence that was her own reflection.
It wasn’t even like she could put a finger on what Sonata had done, except for tying her hair back into a spectacularly messy ponytail. For all intents and purposes, it was almost as if the girl hadn’t done anything at all, and yet it was clear that Aria now seemed to glow as radiant as a strawberry moon. Walking up to the mirror, she touched it, wondering how her space case of a sister had ever paid attention to anything delicate or quiet long enough to figure out the definition of subtlety. Spinning around to cock an eyebrow at the smugly grinning blue girl, Aria huffed, and placed a hand upon her hip.
“Meh. It’ll do, I guess.”
They both grinned as they glanced at one another; then both of those grins melted into tight lipped frowns of guilt.
A few moments later, whilst putting on her jacket, and preparing to head out of the door, Aria found that her nerves had quickly jumped back into action. Sonata sat a short distance away upon the armrest of the couch, kicking her legs back and forth. She studied her sister with deep interest. Noticing the elder girl’s hands shivering ever so slightly as she reached for a cigarette, Sonata decided to speak up.
“You don’t have to feel nervous about it, Ari. This is a good thing, right?”
Aria froze just as she was about to light the smoke. Her eyes peered at the younger girl who gazed back with the sweetest, and most sincere of smiles. Something jumped in Aria’s chest, and suddenly she felt her shoulders relax. This was a good thing. What was she being so perturbed and nervous for? Cookie was someone she actually wanted to be around. Why should she allow her own paranoia to ruin the opportunity? Aria smiled ever so slightly, and put her lighter away. Plucking the cigarette from between her lips, she then tucked it safely into a free compartment in her wallet. Pulling the rest of the pack of cigarettes from her pocket, she stared at them for a moment before tossing them down upon the table beside the entrance.
“Yea. It is,” she replied to the girl before hoisting her jacket into a fit upon her shoulders, and opening the door.
Sonata waved eagerly, a mischievous grin upon her face.
“You kiddies be good, okay? Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” she teased with a sly wink. Aria’s entire face went red as she crossed the threshold. Before she shut the door behind her, she turned to face her sister one more time, now wearing an annoyed grimace.
“Sonata, quit while you're ahead.”
The blue girl simply giggled as the front door slammed shut. Sitting there, kicking her legs to and fro, she seemed to be enjoying the memory of the rare moment of peace that Aria and she had just shared. That sort of thing simply did not happen anymore. Sure, having to hear about all those yucky things from the old times had made her skin crawl, but as long as she only had to hear about it, and not relive it, then she could consider it to be a fair compromise.
As she mulled things over to herself, Sonata could not help but revisit Aria’s warning. It was the second time her elder sister had warned her in this manner which was serious business because Aria almost never repeated herself unless she was completely insistent about something. Still, the entire time, Sonata could barely resist the urge to tell Aria that she simply didn’t understand how she felt, and it was practically impossible to explain how she was feeling since she had never been too good with putting her thoughts into words. Perhaps all of the ages that her sisters had spent worrying and wrestling with mortal-type troubles had emotionally prepared them for dark times such as this, but Sonata just wasn’t like them. Her simple life philosophy had never accounted for pressures like these, and she wasn’t about to be settled with them now. She wasn’t about to be trapped in a life of unhappiness and toil as if it were the old times all over again.
By this point, the smile had completely faded from her face. Her legs had stopped kicking, and she sat in an eerie silence in the quiet living room. Sliding her gaze toward the front door, the next phase of her plan to win over Patti Mint came rushing back into her mind with a powerful gusto. Rising to her feet, she calmly made her way toward the entryway, grabbed a hoodie, one of Aria’s caps, and then her keys and wallet from the side table. Shoving the cap into the hoodie pocket, she quietly unlocked the entrance, slipped through the threshold, and off into the night.
The Tank was a rather shady bar, definitely not as warm as Bubbles, at least not from what Sonata could remember of the few times she had gone there with her sisters or friends. Instead, this place seemed purposely lit—or rather, darkened—to better reflect the intentions of its seemingly questionable patrons. Sonata couldn’t help but muse on how much Aria would probably enjoy a dive like this.
Donning her hoodie and cap as she walked into the place, she was relieved to discover that at least the A/C was on full blast inside. Looking about for Patti as she slowly made her way through the somewhat filled pub, and toward the bar, she seemed completely heedless of all the dubious stares she was currently receiving from the other guests. As she passed one particularly seedy-looking fellow, he gave off a loud whistle, surprising her into glancing in his direction. Seeing his wide grin, and inevitably missing its underlying message, she smiled back sweetly, and whistled a short, cheery tune in return.
“So much fun when people do that,” she giggled to herself.
Moving further, she spotted a table with two rather grim looking women sitting at it, sipping at glasses full of something clear. As Sonata passed them, one leaned into the other, and could distinctly be seen mouthing out the words: “Fresh meat”. Her companion smiled brightly, and cupped a hand to the side of her mouth.
“Nice legs, sweetheart!” she yelled. Sonata gasped, and grinned even wider.
“Thank you!” she replied warmly. “I think it’s because I dance a lot. I can give you girls a playlist later if you want, kay?”
Waving like a madwoman, she finally skipped up to the barside where two utterly inebriated young men were sitting, yelling about something or other. The one nearest her, upon taking one glance in her direction, immediately shoved his companion off of his stool, stepped over, and gestured toward the now empty seat to allow her to sit. Sonata’s doe-ish eyes sparkled.
“Aww, you’re so sweet! Gosh, everyone here is so nice! I guess that’s what I get for judging a glam magazine by its cover.”
Things were good. Despite the fact that she still felt exhausted, at least her spirits were lifted on account of all the wonderfully “polite” people she now found herself surrounded by. As she watched the barkeep approach her, she made a mental note to herself to visit this spot more often if she ever got the chance. It seemed to be a great place for a quick confidence boost.
“Hey, sweetheart,” the middle-aged, redheaded, raspy-voiced woman behind the counter said whilst she dried off a freshly rinsed whiskey tumbler. “What can I get ya?”
Sonata thought for a moment, tapping her chin. To be quite honest, she had only come here to dig up some information on Patti, but seeing the girl nowhere around, she concluded that perhaps she might have to wait. She might as well enjoy herself in the mean time.
“Gee, I don’t know. You got any juice boxes?” she asked.
The redhead peered at her with a look of utter exhaustion. Rolling her eyes, she sighed heavily, and placed a hand upon her hip.
“No. Which reminds me, let me see some I.D.”
“Oh. Well then, whatever you’ve got that’s really, really fruity,” Sonata said with a bashful grin as she reached into her hoodie pocket for her wallet. “I’ll take that.”
Pulling the wallet out, she unsnapped one side of it revealing, to the barkeep’s utter surprise, a thick row of ID cards shoved into a near bursting pocket. Pulling them all out, she began sifting through them to find the right one.
“Here it... Oh, wait, no. That’s expired. Or what about… Oh no. They don’t even print those anymore. Ooh! Here it is!” she exclaimed, picking out one of the newer looking cards, and handing it to the woman behind the counter.
The woman didn’t even bother to look at the thing, but instead, cracked a small smile. Indeed, despite Sonata’s oddness, it seemed nearly impossible to not be charmed by the ever cheery girl.
“I’m just gonna pretend like I didn’t see all that just now,” she murmured handing the card back to her. “What did you say you wanted again, sweetheart?”
“Something really fruity and sweet. Not that bitter stuff that my sisters keep tricking me into drinking whenever they buy stuff.”
“You know what? You look like a ‘Sex on the Beach’ type of gal,” the woman rasped, reaching under the counter for a tall, curvy glass. She never even noticed Sonata’s eyes pop wide open, a panicked yet guilty expression upon her face.
“W-what! Why, I never… I…” she stammered, slapping her palms against the counter. Leaning in, the former siren’s gaze pierced into the barkeep. The woman recoiled.
“What’ve you heard?” Sonata hissed just slightly above a whisper, her eyes darting about. “Who’ve you been talking to? It wasn’t a skinny, purple-y girl with a scary face who likes to break stuff, right?”
The woman at once began to shake her head fearfully, not knowing in the slightest what she should say.
“Because, I told her that it wasn’t what it looked like! We were opening our chakras or whatever!”
“I—” the redhead stammered whilst her hands worked vigorously below the bar.
“By the seas, Aria! It was the Sixties! Leave me alone, already!”
“Here!” the older woman yelled, throwing a tall glass full of a delicious looking pink and orange liquid in front of Sonata. This seemed to immediately pull the girl’s attention away from her own frantic thoughts.
“Oooh! That looks goood!” Sonata squealed, snatching the glass up, and reaching into her pocket for a few dollars.
“Now, y-you just settle down, and sip on that slowly, sweetheart,” the barkeep said with a relieved sigh as she watched Sonata pop the drink straw into her mouth. “Hopefully it’ll calm yer nerves or… whatever the hell is wrong with you.”
Picking up the crumpled bills that she had placed on the counter, the woman smirked as she listened to the sound of the strange girl in the baseball cap slurping down her drink, humming happily to herself.
“You’ve never heard the name of that drink before?” the woman asked her suspiciously. “It’s really very popular.”
“People always just buy this stuff for me. I dunno why. I don’t know the names of any of them, really.”
Just as she was saying this, the drunk young man beside her motioned for the barkeep to approach him. Whispering in the older woman’s ear, he slipped her a bill as she rolled her eyes.
“Really?” she asked him, unamused. The man shrugged.
Sighing to herself, she reached under the counter for a few moments, yet again, and when her hands reappeared, they were holding yet another glass of the colorful drink that Sonata had been sipping on. Plopping it down in front of Sonata, the redheaded woman cocked an eyebrow at her.
“The gentleman sends his regards,” she croaked. Sonata’s eyes widened.
“See what I mean?” she exclaimed, completely ignoring the man to her left, to his utter disappointment.
She continued to gulp down her beverage—faster this time so she could get started on the second. A moment later, after finishing the first glass, her head popped up with a gasp, and she glanced at the barkeep once again. Worried that the girl might go off on another tangent, the redhead braced herself, and took a step back. Instead, Sonata let out a small hiccup, and giggled.
“S’cuse me,” she murmured bashfully. “I just remembered I wanted to ask you something. Does this girl named Patti Mint work here? Brown hair, blue eyes, face always looks like she ate something bad?”
The redhead scoffed, and rolled her eyes. Noting this, Sonata tried her best to hide the wide grin that threatened to break out upon her face. There was absolutely no doubt that this barkeep was yet another person who had been touched by Patti’s “charm”.
“Yea, she’ll be comin’ in in about half an hour or so. Why? You one of her little, snotty friends or somethin’?” the woman asked looking very much as if she wanted to snatch Sonata’s drink away.
“Nu uh,” the former siren said with a shake of her head before taking another sip. “She uhh… She just uhh… owes me some money.”
She received yet another snort from the red head.
“Figures. That girl just can’t seem to get her shit together. Ever since she started here, she’s been late just about every shift she’s had, busy gettin’ drunk on the clock, always runnin’ off to a bathroom stall with some good for nothin’ every chance you give her.”
“Oh, really?” Sonata said, looking genuinely captivated.
“Of course, and between you and me, I don’t think you’re ever gonna get your money back, sweetheart. I’ve seen that Mint girl skimming outta the cash register before. Not very good at it either. Only a matter of time before she gets caught,” the barkeep said, picking up a fresh glass to dry.
A squeak escaped Sonata’s throat when she heard this. Her raspberry eyes gleamed with excitement.
“Why don’t you just tell whoever owns this place?” she asked as beguilingly as she could manage. The barkeep looked at her in a rather perplexed fashion.
“What do I look like, a snitch? A little rat or somethin?” she asked. “You aren’t a rat right? Cause that kinda shit can get you into a lot of trouble around here.”
Sonata coughed, caught off guard by the woman’s sudden flare of suspicion.
“No! I meant…” she thought to herself for a moment. “I’m no rat. I just… forget it.”
Eyeing the barkeep with interest, Sonata quickly figured a different approach, and tried again.
“Who does own this place, anyway? Everyone here’s so wonderful. He or she must be the nicest person in the whole wide world, huh?”
The redhead woman now glanced at the siren as if she were insane.
“You pullin’ my leg, kiddo?”
Sonata shook her head innocently, slurping up the dregs of her drink. Seeing that she was serious, the barkeep cocked an eyebrow, and sighed.
“Who owns The Tank? Why, Tank owns The Tank. You never seen him? He’s hard to miss. Huge, enormous, gray guy. Got a scar on his cheek. Likes collecting little, ceramic puppy statues. You know. Classic “don’t fuck with that guy”-type guy. He don’t always come in, though.”
Sonata had heard everything she needed to hear. Plus, she had just finished off her super yummy, “One of these days, Aria,” drinks or whatever the glass of deliciousness had been called. Thus, she decided that it was time to take her leave before Patti came in for the evening.
“That’s okay. I was just curious.”
She eyed the redheaded woman one more time with the deepest of interest, and leaned forward.
“Say, you said you’re no snitch, right?”
“‘Course not,” the woman repeated with a raspy cough.
“Great. So, then it wouldn’t be a whole lot if I asked you not to tell Patti that I was here, right?” Sonata asked, smiling sweetly. The woman peered at her with suspicion, but yet again, Sonata’s grin won her over.
“Eh. You seem like good people. My lips are sealed if yours are,” the woman said, then turning her back to the girl with an air of finality.
Smiling quite contently to herself, Sonata popped up to her feet with a giggle, and let go of the counter to pull her hood on. Teetering to the side in her tipsyness, she fell into the arms of the drunken young man who had been practically gawking beside her the entire time. Passing him an enamored gaze to meet his lecherous smile, she hiccuped once, and then spoke.
“Gosh, are you like… Superman or something? You’ve got like, super speed,” she murmured to him, her eyes wide. The man cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Baby, I’ll be whatever you want me to be.”
“Really?” Sonata gasped, pushing herself out of his arms, and clasping her hands. “You can shapeshift too? I used to be able to do that! Isn’t it the best?”
After giving the now confused drunkard a polite wave, Sonata headed toward the entrance. Still teetering on her feet, she waved goodbye to the rest of the new “friends” she had made that night, and pushed her way through the door.
The wind was knocked out of her as she bumped into someone headed in the opposite direction. Being rather sturdy for such a bouncy girl—something she liked to thank her earth pony roots for—Sonata practically knocked the other person onto the ground before realizing that it was Patti that she had run into. Thankfully, the girl had not yet looked at her face, being far too busy rubbing the pain out of her backside from where she fell onto the concrete. Thinking quickly, Sonata pulled her cap low, and turned in the direction of home.
“Uhh, excuse me, Miss,” she blurted in the manliest voice she could fake, and then quickly rushed away.
“Oh, nice. Yet another gentleman,” Patti muttered to herself. “Good job not even helping me up, asshole!” she yelled, but by the time she had looked in Sonata’s direction, there was no one there.
Sonata was humming to herself by the time she got home. It was only upon entering the house that she realized how quiet it was without Aria in front of the T.V. or blasting her music from upstairs. Adagio wasn’t really one to make much noise unless she was angry and yelling; thus, the atmosphere seemed rather eerie. Nevertheless, Sonata’s spirit was uplifted. After having obtained some new dirt on Patti, and potentially getting Aria some action, she couldn’t help but feel pleasantly accomplished, rather brilliant.
Perhaps it was the warm shower that reminded her of how exhausted she had been. Maybe, it was the coziness of her pajamas, or maybe it was the warm feeling of her blankets as she crawled beneath them, but as soon as Sonata had hit her sheets, the world seemed to fade away into the most lovely haze. Maybe those haunting dreams of the ocean would leave her alone just for tonight.
The tinkling of piano keys coming from above—playing an all too familiar melody—forced her eyes open. Rousing herself from sleep, Sonata sat up in her bed, and looked at her clock. To her shock, two hours had already passed, even though she felt like she hadn’t slept at all. The persistent sound of that ominous song, at once, made her heart sink from the heights where it had flown earlier in the evening. Thus, wrestling with herself over whether or not she should heed the urge to go up to the attic, Sonata finally took a deep breath, threw off her covers, and headed out into the hallway.
Reaching up, it took a fair bit of her strength to push the attic door open without making a sound. Wincing, she froze as she heard the old wood creak upon being laid on its opposite side. Not hearing any break or slowing of the pace of the hypnotic melody coming from within, she released the breath she had been holding, and slowly tiptoed up into the dark.
The room was warmer than the rest of the house, a bit stuffy, but the small window that sat open on the far wall let in just a bit of a comforting breeze from the starry night beyond. Sonata worried herself with quietly closing the door back behind her to shut out the hallway light. She then moved to hide herself behind a large wooden crate. The thing was left unopened, caked with dust, and printed with the words “Port of New York, 1918,” on its side. Looking around the room, one could find many locked and lonesome mysteries of a similar sort, all of them splashed in moonlight.
This attic was a sort of haven for her sisters, especially Adagio who was more prone to take care of her precious belongings. The elder girl knew how to preserve things, make things last. Sonata supposed that she might even still have some old neck ruffs neatly folded away, or even a hennin—rotted, but still shaped to its perfect point—somewhere within one of these many chests and boxes.
Smiling to herself as she quietly zipped through a millenia of memories from her little corner, Sonata brought her knees up to her chest, and allowed her head to rest upon them. Glancing fondly toward her eldest sister, she sighed to herself, wondering what could possibly have had the girl so entranced that her fingers never seemed to slow, to break pace, or to rest.
The encore of that haunting tune made the younger girl's lips curl under into a slight frown. Raising her head to take a better look toward Adagio’s back, she searched for some sign as to why she would play such a song that would forevermore bring such melancholy upon their hearing it.
It was beautiful, though. Of course, she would expect nothing less from Adagio. In some ways it was as if the old magic could still be drawn from where she knew it now lay forever dormant within each note. The sound of each pulsing, crescendoing chord matched Sonata’s heartbeat, and for a moment it almost felt as if that old familiar itch might revisit her, the warmness that spread all the way out to her fingertips. Perhaps the wellspring might even open up, just a little bit, and send forth its beauty into the world through her, its vessel. Her lips parted as Adagio began the refrain once over. It became increasingly more difficult to stifle herself. Eyes wide, and glassy, she lost herself, for a tiny moment, within that gorgeous melody.
“...We’re here to let you know. Our time is now…”
Sonata’s alto, though hoarse, and still utterly imperfect to the ears of any siren, now carried with it a sad sweetness in its flaws, a type of rustic charm that seemed to betray its true age. Her long, fracturing note trailed off slowly, as did the piano, almost as if Adagio had been expecting to play in time with her all along. It seemed like forever until the lingering chord disappeared from where it dawdled upon the blue-cast walls, and then another eternity for an ensuing silence to pass between them. Sonata hadn’t the mettle. So, Adagio spoke first.
“I thought you and Aria were out for the night,” she said calmly, still facing front toward the open window.
“Just Aria. I was only gone for a little while,” Sonata replied gently, not moving from her hidden spot behind the crate. Not hearing an immediate reply, she figured that her superior was cross with her for having interrupted her private time. “Sorry. I heard the song, and… I couldn’t sleep, I guess. Are you mad?”
Adagio spun around halfway on the chair to glance in the direction of the small, semi-muffled voice. Spotting two sets of five, blue toes wiggling out from the edge of the large wooden box by the door, the elder girl couldn’t help but stifle a smile. She opted to sigh heavily instead.
“No, I’m not mad. I’m too tired to be mad. Come on out of there,” she bid her. Obeying orders, as usual, Sonata quickly got to her feet, and traversed the length of the room. Standing before Adagio, she clasped her hands together, unable to look at the seated woman’s face. She heard a scoff.
“You smell like vodka and gummy bears,” Adagio murmured, sliding over to make room for the younger girl. “And you’re tilting sideways. Sit down before you fall.”
Sonata quickly took her seat, ignoring the comment.
“So, you went out drinking,” Adagio sighed matter-of-factly. Sonata tapped her index fingers together nervously. She knew that the elder girl would probably not like the idea of her spending money so frivolously.
“Yes, but I have way extra tips. There’s still plenty more left over.”
As she finished, Adagio slowly raised her hand to stifle anything more that might come.
“It’s alright, Sonata. I said I’m not mad. I understand that perhaps you might be feeling a little… stressed. Lately, I am too.”
More silence ensued between them as the younger girl tugged anxiously at her fingers. A more serious issue rolled about in her mind.
“Adagio?” she spoke up finally. “How… how do you play that song?”
“Well, it’s not really that difficult… technically,” Adagio sighed. “I mean, it’s not supposed to be, but there are a ton of nuances that a mortal’s ears might miss in the pressure of the key taps, and—”
“No, I mean. How do you play it, knowing what it is... what it means? How do you bring yourself to do it?”
Adagio turned, and cocked an eyebrow at her.
“I was going to ask you how you could bring yourself to sing it,” she replied. There was a brief pause. “It didn’t sound too bad for what it was, actually. It was quite… quaint.”
“I thought so, too,” Sonata said, drawing an even more surprised look from her elder. She met the expression with a sweet smile. “And I can sing it because it helps me to remember… or forget, depending on whichever makes me feel better. I was scared to tell you, but I haven’t really stopped singing ever since… well, you know. I just wanted to know if you did that, too.”
The elder girl looked astonished. Caught off guard by the confidence in Sonata’s tone, she glanced down toward her feet.
“Yes, but the remembering is always painful for me, even when it’s not. And I do it because it hurts. I don’t know. There’s something satisfying in that. It feels like I’m scratching an itch.”
Sonata smirked at this, and faced front.
“Aria would love to hear you say that.”
Adagio let loose a small laugh, realizing the truth in the statement.
“I’m sure she would. So, you better not tell her.”
The smile the elder siren wore gradually melted away as thoughts of Aria permeated her mind. She and the other girl had not spoken since the evening of the fight, and ever since, despite her inability to admit that she had fouled up, Adagio had wanted to find a way to show her remorse for the terrible things she had said to her.
“So, is she… well?” she asked her subordinate. Her fingers curled under the edge of the bench, and squeezed until her knuckles turned white. She was afraid of what Sonata’s answer might be.
“I think so,” Sonata replied, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “She went on a date or something. Got all dolled up… Well, dolled up for her.”
“Aria? On a date? What’re they gonna do, go throw rocks at windows, and crush beer cans with their foreheads?”
“Oooh, that sounds kinda fun,” Sonata murmured. “But I don’t think so. She said she was going to some girl’s house for dinner. That lady from her job.”
The elder siren suddenly looked rather surprised.
“You mean the walking vanilla ice cream cone?” she asked.
Adagio smirked, and turned to face the piano keys again, beginning to lightly tap upon them.
“That one’s got a smart mouth… and a perfect rack. I shouldn’t even be surprised. Aria’s always known how to pick her girls. Terrible taste in men, though. I thought for sure, if anything, she’d gun for that red guy at her job, to be quite honest. Great looks, great car, utterly aggravating personality, and you know how Aria loves being aggravated. ”
She tried to smile at her own joke, but found she could not. Sonata’s silence only worked to make her discomfort even worse.
“You know, she let me do her hair and her makeup,” the younger girl blurted, attempting to change the subject. Adagio’s playing stopped.
“Yep, and she let me come into her room, too.”
The elder girl gawked before slowly bringing her fingers down upon the keys one more time.
“Oh, she’s got it bad for that poodle, huh?”
“I guess so,” she murmured, her smile softening ever so slightly. She glanced at her elder sister out of the corner of her eye. “You know, you should try talking to her. I don’t think she’s that mad anymore.”
Adagio rolled her eyes, beginning to play a little louder.
“I threw Swift in her face, Sonata. Trust me. She’s still mad.”
The younger girl winced at the name, tugging at her fingers yet again.
“Well… well, just do what you always do when you want her to listen to you: Lock yourself, and a plate of buffalo wings in the same room with her, and yell. That always works, right?” Sonata posed, sounding slightly desperate. Adagio did not respond, opting instead to continue her playing. A moment later, she heard Sonata sigh loudly, and stand up.
“Adagio, I’m tired! I’m tired of this whole “I know what I have to say, but I won’t because then I’ll lose” stuff! I’m tired because I can’t sleep without dreaming about beaches calling my name all night, and I don’t even wanna sleep, because I’m scared when I wake up that… that something might have happened to one of you. We have to talk about all this at some point, Dagi, because I don’t think we can live like this… like walking and talking and breathing and doing stuff without our powers or our song. It’s not what we are, and we keep taking it out on each other—Well, we always do that, but it’s getting worse! I keep feeling like something really bad is going to happen at any moment, and…” Sonata trailed off, noticing that Adagio had made no effort to turn, and look at her, or to stop playing gently in the dark of the room.
“...We’re broken, Dagi, and I think we need to be trying to figure out how to fix it… fix us, but it feels like I’m the only one that wants to or something, and I definitely can’t figure stuff like that out on my own.”
When the youngest siren’s voice faded away, only the tinkling of piano keys was left. A slight whistle of wind crept in through the open window as if to join it in harmony. Feeling dejected, Sonata let her shoulders slump, and turned to leave without another word.
“You’re right,” Adagio’s voice said over the melody. The younger girl froze in her footsteps, and turned around, her eyes wide. “We are broken. Over the past week, I’ve come to believe that the source, the wellspring from which we were made, is still whole, still intact. We can still see energy, and apparently we can still feel the energy within each other as it ebbs and flows.”
Sonata, now mesmerized by her sister’s words, took a few silent steps forward, and lowered herself to sit on the ground. Peering up at Adagio as she continued to play, it seemed as if the elder girl was now slowly putting herself into a meditative trance.
“However, if we are broken—cracked, if you will—then we can’t hold the power of the source any longer, or at least not properly, not wholly. We can call up the source. We can beckon it, even with these horrid voices of ours. I don’t think anything will ever be able to change that. But the water of the wellspring just seeps through the holes until there’s nothing left. The power is useless within us now. What I can’t seem to figure out is how to go about fixing those cracks. If we could find a way to contain the source again, then maybe… maybe… To fix a broken vessel, one needs—”
“Glue,” Sonata finished. The piano playing stopped abruptly, and Adagio spun around to face her as if she had forgotten the younger girl was even there.
“Glue?” Adagio murmured, half exasperated, half confused.
“Yea! Special glue so the pieces hold together. We just need to figure out what our glue is.”
Adagio felt irritation coming on. For once, she had allowed herself to be open in front of Sonata, and here she went again, babbling on about some random nonsense. Wincing away the beginnings of what would surely turn into anger, Adagio lifted a hand, bidding for the girl to stop speaking.
“What makes us feel like new, Dagi?” Sonata began softly, noting Adagio’s attempt at keeping her composure. “Water! What if the reason we’ve been having those dreams is because the ocean is calling us?”
Now, instead of irritation, something new sprung up in Adagio’s chest. Her heart leapt into her throat, and she felt her palms turn sweaty at the very thought of facing the ocean again, in the flesh. Like a forsaken haunt or a dysfunctional childhood home that brought up a host of painful memories about broken promises and dashed dreams, she suddenly realized that she was quite content in avoiding the place altogether. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand how Sonata could feel any different when even the thought of those blue waters in her dreams now made her want to puke.
“We’re not going anywhere near the beach,” she murmured, something dangerous and threatening in her tone. “I’ve told you once, and I’ll tell you again. We’re staying right here. If water sourced from the ocean was going to do anything, it would have done it by now.”
Realizing just how defensive she was being, Adagio quickly spun around on the bench, and began to play again. When the younger girl pleaded with her to listen, she drowned her voice out by pounding even louder upon the keys.
Determined to be heard, Sonata got to her feet, took a deep breath, and walked toward Adagio. Reaching out to the voraciously flailing figure at the bench, she touched the girl’s shoulder to draw her attention. Adagio’s playing ceased at once as her head spun around to face the younger girl. There were flames in her eyes. Instinctively, she stood up, and moved to shove her back. Sonata winced, and brought her arms up to protect herself, only to be left waiting for a blow that never came. When she worked up the nerve to look again, Adagio was standing in front of her, arms recoiled, ready to strike. A terrible look of shame was plastered across her face. At once, she brought her hands up, digging them deep into her hair. Pulling at the curls in utter frustration, she shouted as loud as she could into the air, and then collapsed to her knees on the floor.
Sonata, justifiably startled by all of this, simply stood there, hands clasped over her mouth as she stared down at her elder in shock. She dared not move, even when Adagio began to laugh—a small sound at first that grew and grew until it echoed off of the walls, and tears were leaking from the corners of her eyes.
Just as abruptly as it began, the laughing ceased, and Adagio was, again, left staring thoughtfully at the floor. There was a long silence before she took a deep breath and spoke.
“You ever wonder if all of those times we sang about getting our “reward” or “what we deserve,” if this was it?” Sonata didn’t respond; so, Adagio gazed up into her eyes. “You ever think that our being broken and miserable all the time is the way it was intended to be, or is that just me?”
“Dagi…” Sonata murmured, hesitating before joining her sister on the floor. “No. We’re supposed to be whole. We’re supposed to be happy. We’re supposed to be… exactly what we are.”
The younger girl shrugged, not knowing how else to phrase such a simple concept. Adagio’s brow knit at she listened to her words.
“We’re monsters. We lure mortals in, and drain them of their energy and their free will until barely anything is left. Come on, Sonata. I know you love all of those crappy old fairytales. The monsters aren’t supposed to win or be happy in the end.”
Sonata peered at her for a moment, disturbed that Adagio would honestly feel this way. Taking a deep breath, she leaned in, and gripped her sister’s shoulders.
“We’re not monsters, and we’re not in a fairytale, Adagio. No one gets to say whether we should be healthy and happy, or what we should do to stay that way besides us.”
Adagio scoffed, glancing again at the floor.
“The Rainbooms did.”
Sonata frowned, and placed her hands into her lap.
“Only if we sit here, and do nothing,” she replied.
Adagio then looked up at her, a half formed smile upon her face.
“We could always just take their advice, and be kind, and sweet, and hug everything we come into contact with. You could have a ton of friends down at CHS, you know.”
The younger girl’s nose scrunched up as if she had smelled something horrible.
“Hugs and friends are amazing, but being a goodie is so overrated, Adagio.” Sonata said, swatting her hand playfully in her sister’s direction. “No one’s perfect. Not even those Rainbooms girls. Mortals and immortals like that always think they’re so darn shiny and clean. They always think what they’re doing is the best thing ever, and that being good is the right way for everything in the whole universe or something…”
Sonata paused to shift her position, bringing her knees up against her chest, and resting her head upon them.
“...but what does ‘good’ even mean without us? Without beings like us, the Rainbooms wouldn’t be good. They’d just… be, and everybody wants to be something.”
A soft hum escaped from Sonata’s throat as she delved deeper into the wide spaces in her mind. Her eyes reflected the moonlight as she gazed out of the window.
“I can see why the Rainbooms exist...”
This elicited a shocked gaze from her elder, but the younger girl appeared neither bothered nor moved by this.
“... but I don’t think they get that we’re here for a reason, too. We didn’t just choose to exist. I think if those goodies got rid of every last baddie or chaos maker in the whole wide world, they’d just sit around hugging, and dancing until they all realized how lame it was, and went nuts with boredom. Then they’d just end up right back at sadness and anger where they started. Then they’d be their own baddies. There’s no getting rid of the chaos, at least not forever. No one should even try, if you ask me.”
She tapped her chin.
“Huh. They wanna save everybody in the whole wide world, but in a way, we’re kinda saving them, aren’t we?”
Adagio was at a loss for words. Peering, tight-lipped, at the younger girl, she couldn’t help but shake her head, and smile.
“Sonata, you are full of surprises, you know that?”
The blue girl looked perplexed.
“Why does everybody keep telling me that?”
Sighing heavily, and getting to her feet, Adagio dusted herself off, and reached out to help her sister up.
“Come on, I’ll make you some hot chocolate. Maybe you can work off some of whatever kind of hangover you’ll have tomorrow, you lightweight.”
“You can make hot chocolate?” Sonata asked with a genuinely astonished look on her face. “But Aria says that you cremate water.”
Adagio clenched her fist, and grated her teeth, wrestling with the idea of dropping the girl back onto the floor.
“Yea, well Aria thinks like the two millennia old grandma that she is. Have you ever seen her try to use the internet by herself?—Complete catastrophe. Maybe one day we’ll teach her about microwaves.”
The two girls laughed to themselves as they walked toward the attic door. Sonata, being ever the obedient helper, pulled the thing up, and held it for Adagio to pass through. Taking her time, the curly haired girl took one step onto the stairs, then another.
Shockwaves. A sudden punch to the chest. Tingling and warmness all over. Sonata doubled over, accidentally dropping the door. Clutching the burning place between her chest and neck, she fell to her knees, gasping for air. The room was spinning as she tried to get a grip on what was happening to her. Then, she remembered…
She fumbled desperately for the door handle in the darkness. When her fingers finally hooked around it, she yanked it open, and nearly fell forward, straight down into Adagio who now sat on the floor below. The elder girl was also clutching her chest and gasping. Thinking she might have hit her in the head with the door, Sonata prostrated herself on the attic floor, and dipped her head out of the opening.
“Dagi, are you oka—”
Another thump to the chest. They both inhaled sharply as Adagio’s eyes shot upward to stare at her sister. It seemed that in their strained, teary eyed gazes, the same message was spoken. With each thump it seemed like the juice that gave them their vigor, the very energy they required to even lift a finger, was sucked away. Trying to think through her distress, Adagio closed her eyes, and made an attempt to study the sensation. When the thump came again, she felt her arms fall limp at her sides. In a moment, they were moving, but one more thump, and suddenly her legs went numb. Her energy was being drawn from her in bouts. That was the first thing to become immediately clear.
“Leach” she stammered in her deliriousness. “Someone’s... leaching..."
Adagio choked before doubling over.
“It hurts, Adagio!” Sonata gasped trying her best to crawl safely down the attic stairs, and instead falling straight down onto the floor with a loud ‘THUD’.
Bracing themselves for a moment longer, they waited, and prayed to the seas that the invasive pain would cease. Eventually, it ebbed. Trying to catch their breaths—Sonata lying flat on her back, and Adagio propped up haphazardly against the wall beside her—they both eventually managed to turn their heads, and give each other knowing glances.