I don't even remember feeling her lips!
Do you need to?
Would it feel any different?
It would feel like a kiss!
And how would you know what that felt like?
The worst part of arguing with yourself had to be when you lost. It was a sad and very surreal sort of feeling. Still, that voice in her head was right, she'd never gotten further in that kind of thing than her mornings with Adagio, so if this morning could be called her first kiss based on the technicality that a tongue in a mouth usually meant that sort of thing, did the lollipop count? Did the candy cane? How many pseudo-kisses was she up to in that case?
But, still, it felt like... Well, it felt like something! Something she wanted a little more of. And, since Adagio kept showing up every morning, it must have meant something to her too!
Maybe it means she just likes toying with you?
OH, COME ON!!
It went back and forth in that fashion, part of her brain thinking romantically and part of it very much refusing to, not reaching any satisfactory answers. She tried to forget about the maybe-kiss when the time came to practice the walk. Moving with the hip-shake was actually a lot easier when she was doing it more for purposes of memorization than emulation, even if the latter was the ultimate goal. She mimicked Adagio's stride as best she could, going back and forth across the gym twice just to be extra sure she had it down right.
Once lunch time came, she tried to focus on her friends talking about a picture hanging outside the art room.
"You've gotta admit," urged Pinkie, "they sure made good use of color!"
"Yes," agreed Rarity half-heartedly, "the detail in the wings really brings out her eyes."
"I think the magic-y blue fire kinda does that too." Rainbow didn't know much about art, but she knew what she liked.
Applejack just frowned a little, looking at the subject of the painting that hung for all to see the past few months. Granted, she didn't really look like an infernal bat-woman anymore.
Sunset looked tired, her head propped up by one arm on the table, her face somewhere between browbeaten and exhausted. At least until she noticed the rest of the table staring at her and forced a smile. "I keep telling you guys, I know it's just a painting. There's no sense worrying about it, no sense being mad at whoever drew it, and no reason to ask Mr. Magnet to take it down. Okay?" She got five concerned stares. Again.
Rainbow was the first to articulate the question. "Somebody gets nightmares about what happened at the Fall Formal, paints a picture of you all fire and brimstone, which gets posted in the hallway a few days later, and you seriously don't have a problem with it? At all?"
Sighing, Sunset shook her head. "It's not that I don't have a 'problem,' but if I so much as suggested that maybe I didn't want that picture there, wouldn't it look like I was just trying to cover it up? Even now?" She shrugged. "I try not to think about it, but if you asked me how I'd envision something hanging over my head for the rest of my life, this is in the top three methods." She was almost startled by Applejack's hand on her shoulder.
"Ahh, don't you worry none 'bout that old thing. They're bound to replace it with somethin' else sooner or later, right?" She chuckled. "Maybe it'll be one'a mah drawin's. Or heck, maybe even Fluttershy's! We got the same art class an' she sketches like nobody's biz'ness."
The group's attention collectively turning her way in an instant did little for her ability to think on the spot. "I could draw hair!" Being stared at in confusion didn't help as she lowered her head, trying not to turn as pink as her hair. Which she could allegedly draw. "I-I mean, I could, draw, um... here...?"
One thing to love about Pinkie Pie was that she could act like anything made perfect sense. And as she smiled, maybe, to her, it did. "Neat!"
Sunset did her best to save her mousiest friend. "Anyway, I really appreciate the sentiment, but they probably aren't going to take it down any time soon." Rolling her eyes, she crossed her arms. "And, as much as I hate to admit it, whoever made that painting did a really good job. Just wish I wasn't the subject matter."
Rarity would have offered sentiments about being an inspirational muse to at least one person, but Sunset very clearly was not flattered by the work.
Conversation drifted to how it could have been worse, how someone could have sculpted a statue of Sunset as a raging she-demon, to composing a song about how scary she was and singing it during the Battle of the Bands, to writing a scary poem about her, to Rarity's racy poems again.
Fluttershy, however, kept her thoughts on art bound to paper. Specifically, how Adagio would look as the central figure in The Birth of Venus.
She definitely has the hair for it. And, the sirens were sea creatures, right? Someone should paint that, it'd make perfect sense!
Art class that day would remind Fluttershy that while reasonably skilled in the field of drawing with a pencil, she was a terrible painter.
Walking down one of the less-traveled halls to her next class, Fluttershy heard voices around a nearby corner.
"Alright, what'd you wanna show me?"
Aria sounded a little alarmed. "Wha-h-hey, what are you-MMPH?!"
There were sounds of a small struggle, but by the time Fluttershy dared peek around the corner, she only saw Aria sputtering and wiping her mouth. "Dammit, Adagio! We keep telling you humans don't eat that way!"
Adagio snickered at her. "I don't remember you complaining all the times befo-"
Aria's pupils shrunk to pinpricks as she glanced around, slapping a hand over Adagio's mouth. "Shut! Up!!"
Stepping back, Adagio chuckled. "They're called fireballs, I think. How is it?"
Aria's mouth hung open for a moment as she gained awareness of the spicy ball in her jaw. "Tch," she shrugged, "it's alright, I guess."
Still grinning, Adagio offered Aria the bag she'd gotten from Fluttershy earlier. "There are more, if you'd like."
Eyeing the bag suspiciously, Aria raised an eyebrow. "Where'd you get 'em?"
Averting her eyes, Adagio grinned mischievously. "Ohh, I have this good friend that-"
With just an inkling as to where this was going, Aria held up a hand. "Stop, stop, forget I asked!"
Fluttershy's heart leapt. She called me a good friend! Maybe only as a cover-up lie, but still!
Aria took the bag without making eye-contact, certain she was already blushing. "Thanks for the cavities, anyway."
Adagio chuckled, extending one arm to lean on a nearby locker. "You're welcome. Have you made any progress in that Empire Cardiac-Muscle game?"
Purple palm met purple forehead as she groaned. "Two and a half hours in and I'm still in the freakin' tutorial!"
"I keep telling you it all goes faster if you skip the cutscenes."
"Yea, but eastern games are usually a lot more about the story, and I'd actually kinda like to know what the hell's going on in this one. Haven't skipped a thing and I'm still lost."
Adagio nodded, giggling. "Stay strong, Aria, we're still pretty much counting on you after school."
Aria smirked a little, though her expression wasn't the least bit unfriendly. "Yea, yea, don't I know it." The two briefly bumped fists. "Seeya at home."
Fluttershy ducked back around the corner the instant the two sirens turned away from each other, closing her eyes and willing herself invisible as a set of footsteps drew closer. They stopped at the same time as her heart, making her very hesitantly open one eye to see a wide-eyed, blushing Aria Blaze. Probably not just due to the fireball. "Oh, h-hi there, M-Miss Aria, I-I was, j-just, not standing here, the last... few... minutes...?" She didn't need a mirror to know her sheepish smile wasn't going to be selling bridges any time soon.
Wasting no time, Aria stepped closer, poking a forceful finger into Fluttershy's chest. "Listen up Squeaky, you didn't see anything, didn't hear anything, and won't say anything about the things you didn't see and didn't hear, capiche?!" To her relief, the Rainbooms' biggest wimp nodded vigorously in agreement. "Smart girl."
A few steadying breaths later, Fluttershy stood alone in the hallway, reflecting on what she had just partially witnessed.
"The three of us, Aria, Sonata, and I, would directly share negative energy all the time, back when we still could."
...Maybe it really hadn't been a kiss, then? If she could do the same thing with Aria, it almost certainly didn't mean as much to Adagio as it had to her. The thought was as comforting as it was frustrating. Did that not count as a kiss, or did kissing not hold the same weight to their people?
Wait, are they a 'people'? Is there a whole country of sirens over in Equestria, or are these three the only ones of their kind? Aria said they didn't have a concept of swearing where they came from, but does that just mean that she, Adagio, and Sonata just never thought of words as bad? Who raised them? What was growing up like for-
Before she could think more on it, the warning bell for the next class sent her hurrying through the halls.
What life was like growing up was something she could ask Adagio later. So, Fluttershy instead dedicated most of her remaining thinking time that day to what she'd said about selfishness, and couldn't find fault in the reasoning. The kindest, most benevolent, most philanthropic people in the world did good, caring things because they wanted others to be happy, right? But, why? She knew. Pinkie Pie openly went around making as many people smile as possible (Sunset had asked her to make an exception for the Dazzlings, instead just giving them space,) because seeing people happy made her happy. Was that a little selfish? Yes. Was it bad? Not at all.
Adagio was right. That was the whole point of assertiveness, wasn't it? To make yourself happy by behaving selfishly enough to get what you wanted? Was it possible to enjoy life without ever being selfish? Even a little? The only way she could think of was if, while doing nothing to push it along, everything around you just happened to fall into place in just such a way that you would have wanted it to anyway. The odds were abysmally low that way, so, yes, you had to be a little selfish.
It's not like I share with her just because she's never tasted these things before, right?
Then came a thought she pushed out of her head immediately. She couldn't let herself even think it. Not yet. Luckily, she had a distraction handy.
So, about that maybe-maybe-not kiss...?
Sleep hadn't come easily, but Thursday was a new day. And with it, another accidental case of Adagio startling her.
Sighing with stage exasperation, she wore her usual smirk. "What did I do this time, Sweetie?"
"N-nothing," she answered with a sheepish smile, "I'm just a little, y-y'know, jumpy." Truth be told, it was the eyeliner, which looked a little darker this morning. The effect worked to make Adagio a little scary all over again. She's wearing her dance outfit again today, too. I wonder if there's a pattern, hoodie and jeans some days, purple jumpsuit, pink vest, and tights the others? It gets a little chilly some mornings, is she warm enough? Regardless, Fluttershy smiled. "So, um, g-good morning! This might sound a little strange, but do you have a peanut allergy?"
Orange curls shook gently with the her head. "I don't think so. Near as I can tell, none of us have any sort of allergies." Adagio had a particular kind of smile when she talked about her friends, like the happy little grin she'd shown a few times before, painted with reminiscence. If you were looking for it, her fondness for them was clear in her face, just making Fluttershy feel all fuzzy inside. "Well, Sonata doesn't like fish and Aria claims to be allergic to hugs, but I don't think she'll ever have a severe reaction."
"...Haven't you been hugging her in school, sometimes?" Rumor had it that Sonata was the only one that didn't complain when Adagio got publicly affectionate toward her two closest friends.
Adagio regained a familiar little smirk of amusement. "I'm just trying to show everyone how friendly we are, is all." That Aria got all adorably huffy about it when there were a few witnesses was just a happy coincidence.
There was a thought that had been buzzing around in Fluttershy's head like a bee that got lost in a house for a while now, but the time had never felt right. This looked like a good opportunity. "Um, i-if it's okay to ask, why don't Aria and Sonata ever join you in the mornings?"
For a worrying few seconds, Adagio stared back at her, expressionless. Then she shrugged a little, her relaxed smirk as strong as it had ever been. "I'm just more of a morning person than they are, and it gets boring waiting for them to wake up."
Not sure how to follow that statement, Fluttershy nodded. "Okay then. Anyway, I have to ask, because," she drew the day's treats from her bag; a pair of peanut-based wafer bars covered entirely in a layer of chocolate. "these have nuts in them, and they crumble to pieces very easily." She offered one to Adagio, confident she wouldn't be able to open the glued-shut, tear-only kind of wrapper with her tongue. Not that she didn't try! Adagio eyeing the treat in confusion before hesitantly tonguing the edge of the wrapper was just the kind of thing she'd seen kittens do when presented wrinkly plastic, and proved to be equally adorable. "Uhm," Fluttershy managed with a giggle, "y-you're supposed to, well, like this." She tore the wrapper to her own candy bar normally, pulling two sides of the flat part in opposite directions.
Adagio blinked twice, looking at the wrapper with a small, lopsided pout of mild frustration, her face all but saying 'Oh, NOW you tell me!' Fluttershy's continued giggles at this new, childlike expression didn't go unnoticed, Adagio adding a little blush to it against her will. "Something funny, Sweetie?"
"N-no," Fluttershy said while smiling wider and laughing harder, "nothing at all!"
"Mmhm..." Well it's not my fault I've never seen this kind of wrapper before! Stupid, flappy-ended, shiny-paper thing. Part of her wanted to complain about how most of the candies she'd been offered up to this point had been edible right away, so licking this one as it was offered made sense at the time, but it still made her feel like an idiot. Regardless, when she got the defiant thing off, she glanced back and forth between Fluttershy, quietly chewing on her own chocolate-covered bar with a big smile, and the one in her hand. Getting an idea, she smirked. Phallic-shaped food items? For me? Sweetie, you really shouldn't have.
She raised the bar to her mouth...
What followed is best not described on school grounds, but Fluttershy quickly remembered why she hadn't tried bringing candy bars before now.
When she was finished, a thin layer of chocolate was smeared on Adagio's lips, along with bits of peanut on her chin and some that landed on her chest. Adagio spent a minute pondering whether it would be going too far to suggest that Fluttershy help her clean up, given that the other girl hadn't stopped hiding her face, beet-red, no doubt, in both hands with her legs tightly crossed, her whole body shaking like a leaf. It was such a good look for her, but saying that out loud may have pushed this round into overkill. Wiping away the crumbs, at least the score was even now.
It was just as she was trying to think of how to get Fluttershy's attention back to Earth without making her run away again that one of those bushy-tailed tree-rodents appeared, nibbling the crumbs by the foot of the bench. Adagio had heard a little about her favorite playmate being some kind of animal lover and gently reached over to tap her shoulder, keeping her voice quiet so as not to scare the little forager away. "Look. Friend of yours?"
"W-what?" Hesitantly peeking between her fingers, Fluttershy immediately lowered her hands and lit up with glee, as though the past few minutes hadn't happened at all. "A squirrel!! Ohhhmygosh, he's here for the peanut crumbs! Can you see the way he's storing them in his cheeks, not actually eating them right away? It's a little more dangerous to enjoy a meal out in the open with a chance of predators around, so they usually-"
Fluttershy gushed like that for a solid minute as the squirrel went about its harvest, to Adagio's quiet amusement. Better still was the face she made when the squirrel hopped into her lap to collect the fragments from her own candy bar. Her grin was almost face-splitting when the squirrel just kind of looked at her as she brushed its fluffy tail with a finger, but then it looked at Adagio.
"No," she said with hint of smirk, "I am not your mother."
As she'd hoped, this drew a laugh from Fluttershy. "B-because of the fuzz?"
Grinning wryly, she nodded. "Sonata once called me queen of the-"
The squirrel jumped down the front of Adagio's jumpsuit, to her immediate, wide-eyed shock.
"AH!" She stood up straight, patting along her chest and stomach to catch the thing as fast as she could. "W-what is it-eek!" She quickly lost what little composure she had, feeling the tiny paws and tickley tail running very quickly around her midsection. "I-it's, aha! N-no, pleaheeheeheehee! S-stop, that's gaaahahahaha!!"
Fluttershy could only watch in silence as Adagio did a more chaotic variation of the ice-cube-down-the-back-of-my-shirt dance, uncontrollably letting out high-pitched giggles with her face turning increasingly red.
The very sound of it was so cute, the mischievous part of Fluttershy's brain said she should be recording this on her phone. Compassion easily won out, however, and she stood up, trying to get the squirrel out just as much for his sake as for Adagio's. The poor thing must have been terrified! She saw a little lump under the jumpsuit near Adagio's hip and made a grab for it, only getting a startled yelp from Adagio as the lump slipped away. She tried again as it moved toward her stomach, earning another involuntary laugh as the squirrel kept moving.
"P-please, hold still, Adagio!"
"I-I'm t-try-ee-hee-heeing!!" Despite a big, wavering smile, the fact that Adagio was blushing furiously said she probably wasn't having much fun with this, stamping around and shaking her arms uselessly as she struggled not to respond to the constant, unyielding tickles under her clothes.
Fluttershy made a grab for the lump as it appeared at the small of her back, but only got another high-pitched yelp.
"S-stop fee-heeling me up!!" Feeling another assault of fuzz on her belly, she immediately reconsidered. "Okay, okay, feel-EEK! Ahahaagh!! Do whatever y-ooh-hoo-hahaha! Do whatever y-you have to, ju-ahahahaahahha!! JUST GET IT OU-HOU-HOUT!!"
Flushing brightly, Fluttershy tried to ignore how what she was doing might look out of context. Knowing she had to get Adagio to hold still, she tackled her to the ground.
Several minutes later, Fluttershy managed to free the squirrel, by which point Adagio was lying in the grass, disheveled, sweating, her make-up running, (to even more frightening effect!) gasping for air. Her gold-colored belt was off, her jumpsuit lightly pulled down, and her lacy bra, and consequently most of her chest, exposed.
As the peanut crumb bandit scampered off, Fluttershy couldn't help her eyes. Wow. A teeny bit smaller than average, maybe, but the vest really does make a difference... The second Adagio started to sit up after catching her breath, Fluttershy whipped her head away, hoping her blush wasn't completely bleeding into her voice. "H-he probably wanted the your-I mean, I-I think little bits of peanut might have fallen down your shirt, so, uh-"
"Yes," Adagio managed, fatigue clear in her voice, "I guessed as much." Groaning a little as she got to her feet, she forced an unconvincing smile to hide her embarrassment, gesturing to her still-showing black bra. "Well, now we've both seen a little of each other's underwear!" Fluttershy's red-faced shock was as good a state as any to make an escape in. "Think that's enough fun for today," she uttered as she bent over to pick up her belt and began a tired stumble away, "see you around, Sweetie."
When Fluttershy snapped out of it, Adagio was long gone. She didn't even have time to ponder what had happened before she actually heard the warning bell ring! Scrambling to put her book-bag on, she scurried toward the day's first class.