Sonata Dusk was dying.
As sure as the sun would rise—in this dimension, at least—death would find her one way or another, and the radiant, divine life that had breathed its first in that timeless, primordial deep, singing songs that the cosmos itself had whispered into her ear, would be over. Her glorious, eternal fire would quickly be snuffed or slowly starved until nothing was left but a sad, empty void that haunted the world with indecipherable tales of a terrible might and beauty that no longer was.
"Ew, gross! This is the absolute worst of the worst of the woooorst!"
Sonata whined and grumbled under her breath whilst busying herself with the task of sopping up yet another glass of spilled drink from a dirty table with one horribly smelly and overused rag.
"I swear I'm gonna make J.R. build me the hugest ice cream sundae on my break... with malted milk balls on it. And Adagio and Aria better not say anything about me having too much sugar this time, or else I'm never gonna bake a single pie or cake for them ever again!"
The youngest Siren instantly felt a tinge of guilt for having turned her displeasure onto her sisters, especially Adagio. She had always appreciated it when their elder felt inspired enough to include her in their planning sessions, and likewise, would try her best to pay as close attention as possible during these times. However, at that particular moment, it felt as if her own determination to be obedient and dutiful had risen up suddenly to bite her in the ass, so to speak. Now, as if having to account for all of the humdrum worries and woes of living a mortal life as a mostly powerless Siren wasn't torture enough, it was expected that she also attempt to function somewhat normally whilst toting around the knowledge that not only was she being hunted, but that her own body was slowly killing her. Yes, if there was ever a moment that might have warranted her lack of attention, it would have certainly been during their meeting that morning.
Naturally, the Siren found herself in a less than chipper mood at work that day; so "not chipper," in fact, that her drive to provide at least somewhat acceptable customer service was overshadowed by inklings of self pity and spite.
By the middle of her shift, after having "accidentally" dropped a plate of fries over the head of some rude codger who refused to shut up about all the things he was required to do during his childhood whilst barefoot and walking uphill, it was made clear that she would not be receiving much in ways of tips during this particular daily stint. Both her afternoon and her evening had officially been shot, and it only worked to make her more irritated when she was forced to acknowledge that this would bring about a small victory for that oh, so desired target onto which she was increasingly laying all of her frustrations—Patti.
It had been over a month since she had sunk her claws into the waitress and refused to let go, and yet even after all of this time, the silent battle between the brunette and the Siren was still raging on. Actually, if she were to be completely honest with herself, this odd predicament could no longer be compared to a battle so much as it was similar to the vulture-esque stalking of a dying animal. Still, Sonata couldn't help but lament over how involved the whole ordeal had become. If she had been anything less than a seasoned Siren, she would have surely thrown in the towel long ago. Even so, the wait for the inevitable, as well as the unexpected toll all of this was taking on her reputation and relationships, continued to be the hardest parts to bear.
"Three cheeseburgers, one no pickles, three shakes, one vanilla, two chocolate, and a basket of fries," Sonata prattled off after unceremoniously plopping an array of grilled, fried, and frozen delights upon one of her tables. She stole a moment to take a deep breath, and exhaled it sharply. Her eyes glued themselves upon the notepad clutched in her hand, quite determined to read the list off without the million mistakes she had made the five times prior.
"Is there anything else that I can get you ladies today?"
At last, her gaze shifted upward to stare at the three young women. To her surprise, they were all sitting there, smiling knowingly at her from behind their delicious spread of junk food.
She blinked again.
"What? Oh no. Do I have barbecue sauce on my forehead again?" she asked, her tone flat as she reached up to swipe at her fringe.
One of the girls turned about to pass a quick look toward her buddies who candidly nudged her in the shoulder for confidence. Spinning back around to face their waitress, she leaned forward upon the table, and shifted her weight from elbow to elbow.
"Say, uh, aren't you Sonata Dusk?" she began cautiously.
The Siren forced a wary smile, and reached up to tap her name tag.
"That's me, alright! Do, uh... do I know you girls or something?"
The table once again burst out into a fit of giggles. Beginning to feel a little nervous, especially at the first sign of green haze beginning to encapsulate the group, Sonata tugged at her fingers, and forced her smile even wider.
These mortals were an easy read. Green haze in thin, thready, streams? Its scent quite delicate at first with a pungent and heady musk to bring up the rear? Giggles all directed toward her?
Someone had been talking behind her back, and not in a nice manner.
Of course, there was no way for the Siren to decipher what exactly this secret topic of discussion had been, but heck, she'd been around this block a couple times over the past millennia. It didn't take too much guessing to figure out who the likely blabbermouth was.
"I'm starting to think you girls know something that I don't!" she clucked, her voice more of a rattle than a chuckle. Her fist clenched so tightly that the knuckles turned white.
Seeing the anxiousness growing upon the Siren's face, one of the girls, a stocky, violet-skinned woman, attempted to wave her worries away.
"We've just heard about you is all," she began, shooting a knowing smile at her. "From some others who work here."
None of them seemed to notice that the Siren's grin had faded, nor had they seen her gaze drift off to the space somewhere above their heads, lingering there.
"Forrealzies? Really good things though, right?" she inquired, already knowing the answer to the question. Her raspberry eyes grew grim.
"Oh, of course!" the violet girl bleated, flicking her wrist in the same, worry-alleviating way. "Sammy's is a fixture in this town, you know. Everybody ends up here, eventually. Word spreads!"
"It sure does," Sonata replied, forcing a chuckle. Things faded into an odd silence at that point as one party stared knowingly at the other. Catching herself through her daze, Sonata shook her head free of her own ruminations, cleared her throat, and shot a final grin toward the table.
"You girls enjoy your meal," she said, her tone not quite as jovial as usual. Turning about to walk off, she did not stop smiling until she had pushed her way through the red doors and into the kitchen.
The room was empty save for Peach and J.R; Patti and her friends had probably gone off to take their breaks by now. Standing by the grill, Sonata spotted the rather perturbed-looking pair having a notably discreet conversation. The cook was only half-heartedly working the cooktop as his head occasionally bobbed up and down at the impetus of Peach's words.
Both he and the angel-eyed girl ceased their hushed chattering when they noticed her approaching. Sonata eyed them suspiciously as they forced nervous grins, looking very much like children who'd just been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Gazing around them, the Siren could not decipher any notable scent or green haze exuding from their bodies, so she decided that whatever their conversation might have been, it couldn't have proved much to worry about.
The slight odor emanating from beyond the back door, on the other hand, jabbed at her, shaking her into alertness.
"Uh, hey Sonny," Peach posed gently as the Siren walked in their direction. "Do you think you could make a minute when Patti and the other girls get—"
"Sorry, Peachy," Sonata cut in, finger raised and eyes trained unwaveringly upon the back door. "I'm gonna need just a second, kay?"
"Sonata, it's only gonna take a..." J.R. pressed, trailing off when it occurred to him that the driven waitress had not even heard him.
Plopping down her tray upon the counter, and pushing past the pair, Sonata walked up toward the rear doors and ambled through.
She found nothing surprising in the back, really. Only Patti who was digging around in her locker, the compartment's open door currently hiding her head from view. Pumpkin and Candy were nowhere in sight. The Siren deduced that they were probably awaiting their friend's arrival out in the parking lot.
Peeking around the edge of the locker, Sonata could see that the brunette's hair was now pulled back into a ponytail. It was an odd sight, not only for the fact that she could now have a gander at both of Patti's sparkling, blue eyes at the same time, but also because she knew that the girl was one to put a great deal of time and effort into her appearance, even whilst working such a humdrum job. Smiling at the sight of this, the Siren waited patiently behind the locker door until she had grabbed her jacket, and slammed the thing shut.
Patti leapt back in shock when her aquamarine eyes locked with Sonata's. Clutching her chest, she took a moment to catch her breath. Noticing the other waitress' expression slowly harden into one of disdain and apprehension, the Siren plastered on a bright, disarming smile.
"Heya, Patti!" she exclaimed.
"What do you want?" the girl spat, wrenching her jacket onto her body.
"Oh, nothin'. Just had a question for you is all," Sonata replied, her tone softening to a murmur as she eyed the green smog seeping from the mortal in a thin but constant stream. Casually, she walked around the grim waitress to place herself between her and the door to the lot.
"Yea, well, if you hadn't noticed, I'm in a bit of a rush," Patti growled, shoving her wallet into her pocket. "We don't all just get to lounge about on our breaks around here."
"Pssh. Tell me about it," Sonata replied with a flip of her wrist. "If I did that, then I wouldn't get nearly the same amount of tips that I do."
Patti was frowning now, but in a way that seemed more defeated than angry. Sonata could only wonder what it was that she had said wrong. She did work hard, didn't she? And she did make extra tips because of it. Granted, they weren't necessarily her tips to make, but all the same, her efforts had been reaping fruits.
"Listen," Patti croaked, suddenly sounding very tired. "Just stay away from me, alright? I've told you that like a million times, and for the life of me, I can't understand why it's such a difficult concept for you to grasp."
Sonata frowned. Patti was such a stubborn one. Sometimes the Siren found herself musing on how long a mortal like her would have held out at the beck and call of her musical magic. Five seconds instead of the typical two, perhaps? No, Patti had a strong will. Maybe it might have even taken eight.
At first, back when she had a little more energy and far less problems to worry about, Sonata had found this quality endearing. Now, it was just plain annoying, and the longer their war of wills rolled on, the more difficult she found it to remain in her usual, cheery disposition.
"Gee, Patti, that isn't a very nice way to talk to people. Especially if they're being polite to you," she muttered, half of her smile completely falling away. "Why would you say something like that to me?"
"Oh, idunno. Maybe because you're a lying, sneaky, deceitful, little psycho, perhaps?" the waitress spat, edging away from her.
Ouch. Patti sure wasn't one to sugarcoat things, was she? No matter. This wasn't the first time Sonata had been called out of her name by an unsettled, unwitting "friend". She could play that game, too.
"Pssh. Oh, Patti. You're so funny! Lies? Deceit? When have I ever done any of that stuff?" Sonata inquired, tapping at her bottom lip. "I'm not even good at lying. What I'm doing has always been super clear. Maybe not to the folks who don't care, but to you and me, yea! Oh, and I've been called psycho before, by the way. I'm used to that by now."
She giggled to herself, flipping the end of her ponytail over her shoulder.
"But, sneaky, Patti? You're one to talk. If anyone's been sneaking around it's you."
Patti's eyes darted from side to side as the subsequent silence between them both became rather uncomfortable.
"What've you been saying to people about me, Patti?" Sonata pressed, her smile as sweet and habitually disarming as ever. "All nice things, I hope."
"Yea? And what if they're not?" the girl retorted, her voice sinking to a quiet, threatening murmur.
"What if they're not?" Sonata mused to herself, scratching her chin. Her hips swayed to and fro as she pondered this, quite set on actually answering the brunette's question.
"Well, idunno!" she finally blurted with a shrug. "At least not yet. But I'm pretty sure I'll come up with something. I always do! Like last week when I told Tank about how you were stealing cash outta his register."
The Siren watched with unexpected glee as Patti visibly wilted before her. Her jaw dropped as did her shoulders, and very nearly her buckled knees. Too busy inhaling the delicious scent of green that had exploded from the girl, Sonata barely even noticed that the whites of her stunned, sapphire eyes had begun to go red.
"You?" the waitress breathed, her voice wavering. "You're the one who... You've gotta be kidding me!"
Her shock was quickly replaced with rage.
"You're insane, you know that? Do you have any idea what you fucking did?" she screamed as tears began to streak down her cheeks. "I needed that job!"
Apparently, while Sonata was too busy imagining the meal she could have partaken in had she still had her powers, Patti's companions had heard their friend's yelling from where they had been standing in the lot. Less than two seconds passed before both Pumpkin and Candy came barging in through the back door, and without warning, shoved Sonata out of their way.
"Patti! What the hell?" Candy exclaimed, her sky blue cheeks gone white from fright.
"I hate you!" Patti screamed, ignoring her friend, and lunging forward toward Sonata. She was halted by Pumpkin blocking her path. Nearly spinning forward onto her face, the distraught brunette saved herself the injury by collapsing to her knees.
"What did you do to her, you psycho?" Candy hissed, jabbing a threatening finger in Sonata's direction. The Siren merely shrugged, smirking thoughtfully.
"Psycho..." she murmured to herself, a revelation having struck her. "Wait, is that what you've been telling everyone about me? It is, isn't it?"
"Don't talk to her," Pumpkin cut in as she and Candy helped their friend to her feet.
"Why are you doing this?" Patti whimpered, again ignoring her companions. "What do you want from me?"
Sonata blinked with confusion as this question came as a genuine surprise to her. Hadn't it been made absolutely clear by now what it was that she wanted? Sure, for the first couple of weeks, the Siren had assumed that Patti was simply being guided along by her puppet strings, but after the fourth or so, she figured that the girl was just trying to see who could be more stubborn. Had this not turned into a mutually agreed upon game of fortitude? Patti was a girl ruled a great deal by her own insecurities, but she was far from stupid. Sonata, of all beings, would be able to tell if someone was hiding their intelligence behind a facade of dimwittedness.
"You mean you really don't—" the Siren stammered before regaining her sense of calm. "You really wanna know?"
"Yes!" the brunette shrieked, her voice raked raw.
Witnessing this sorry display amidst a heavy quiet, it occurred to Sonata that perhaps this was the glorious moment she had been waiting for, the moment Patti finally gave in to her. A small smile curled across her lips. She figured that she was behaving quite well considering all of the screaming for joy that was taking place on her inside.
"Why don't you and I take our break together, then, and I'll tell you all about it? Whaddya say, Patti?" the Siren posed gently, delighting in the sound of the defeated girl's sighing. "I think there's been an eensy weensy, teeny weeny misunderstanding between us."
Patti sniffed back her tears, and glanced toward the floor. For a second, the gears in her head seemed to be spinning. After a long time, she again met Sonata's gaze. Her lips fumbled for words. Candy and Pumpkin seemed to be awaiting her reply with bated breath.
"No!" Pumpkin interjected, much to Sonata's dismay. "Why the hell would she do that?"
Turning back toward her distressed companion, she steadied the girl, and promptly began tugging her toward the door.
The grimace that suddenly flashed across the Siren's face was terrifying. Bounding to her feet, Sonata, slammed both of her fists against her thighs, leaving purple spots where they had struck.
"Why don't you just shut up, Pumpkin?" she cried. "I wasn't even talking to you!"
Passing a commanding glare Patti's way, the Siren rested her hands upon her hips, and tapped her foot impatiently. Almost as if the response had been foreseen ages ago, she nodded with satisfaction when the blue eyed brunette edged away from her two friends.
"No, I think maybe I should stay," Patti sniffled, looking half lost in a daze. Her hand slipped, inch by inch, out of Pumpkin's grasp as she moved toward Sonata.
At the very last minute, just when both parties had thought the conclusion of this confrontation decided, Pumpkin lunged out to grasp at Patti's fingertips, and drew her close one more time. Sonata shook her head at this rather desperate act. Her suspicions were again piqued, however, when she witnessed the gum-gnawing, orange-skinned waitress pull her friend in, and begin murmuring in her ear.
"Patti, remember that thing that you had to go to," she whispered, smiling when a sudden look of realization flashed across the brunette's face. At once, Patti's energy—and her animosity—seemed somewhat restored. Turning to face Sonata, she passed her a disgusted glare.
"What thing do you have to get to?" Sonata inquired, trying to hide her anger at Patti's two meddling companions. She knew that things had gone awry when the girl did not reply, but instead sniffed disdainfully.
"Pumpkin, Candy, just make sure she doesn't follow me, okay?" the brunette murmured, immediately turning to walk out of the back door.
"Patti?" Sonata called, bounding forward only to be shoved back onto the bench by Candy's surprisingly strong arms. "Patti, wait!"
"You deaf or something?" the sky blue waitress clucked. "You're not getting through, alright? So, might as well just haul your sorry ass back out onto that floor, and do what it is you're supposed to be doing: minding your own damn business."
As if to add insult to injury, Pumpkin passed a smug grin her way as she chawed voraciously upon the piece of ever-present gum in her mouth. Blowing a bubble as big as a fist, she leaned forward, and allowed it to pop loudly near Sonata's face.
The particular state of irritation these two constantly seemed to put her in had long since gotten old. Nevertheless, that short glimpse into the face of victory had given Sonata just the boost she needed to get through the next couple minutes of work until her break. Besides, it would be only a matter of time before all three of them came to see things "her" way, with the right amount of applied pressure, of course.
Sneering at the duo until they finally took their leave, Sonata jutted her tongue out viciously in their direction, spun about on her heels, and headed back toward the floor. By this time, both J.R. and Peachy had gotten back to work, far too busy handling the first oncoming wave of the after work crowd to notice her. Good. That meant she wouldn't have to be bothered with their pointless yapping about "feelings" or "psychiatric therapists".
Humming a tune to herself, finally, for the first time that evening, Sonata rediscovered the bounce in her step. The hum had turned into a whistle as she busied herself with taking a few orders and dropping off a few plates here and there when those same orders came up. The rush of patrons became a blur, as it always did. Still, in the twilight of this day, she didn't seem to mind it. She had just tasted of something old, familiar, and very much missed, and that was all that seemed to matter. So a few people, coworkers included, judged her as being a little bit of a mental case. So what? It was either ditzy or this, and as far as she knew, there were way less people inclined to mess with the mad in comparison to an idiot. She had even proved this to herself by returning to that ridiculing table of girls she had been waiting on, hunkering down low so that only they could hear her, smiling sweetly, and telling them in a very calm and serious manner that she found the flavor of human misery quite yummy, and would be remembering each of their faces with fervor.
One of the girls didn't even bother to start in on her burger and shake before the group promptly decided that they should leave and quick. It didn't matter, anyway. More food for her, and as far as she was concerned, that was always a great motto to live by. Besides, it was getting pretty close to her break time, and Pumpkin had already returned to take up her position on the floor.
Snatching up the untouched burger and chocolate shake, Sonata then headed off toward an empty table on the far side of the floor. Customers usually hesitated to sit in that area due to the section's busted light fixture which, for some odd reason, Sammy had never gotten around to addressing. On her way over, she began to take more detailed notice of the diners who had come in that evening, using them as a means to practice her mannerism and feature reading skills.
Mr. blue hair, pink skin, and super hottie! Just a stream of green out of that pretty noggin. Reeks of apprehension, though. Nose in the air. Hmph. Yep. He's a snooty one. Adagio would love him. Then there's Ms. green eyes. Gosh, this lady here's in trouble. Plumes of smog. Smells of... man, this one's tough. Lies and regret, and waaay too much lust. But her eyes aren't on her date at all. Weird. What could it possibly... Ooh! Affair! She's having an affair! Sonata, you are so brilliant!
Biting her lip to keep her giggles under control, Sonata whisked herself past the tensed couple, and on toward the last patron, a girl seated at a booth on the edge of the dim section beyond. Her head was held in her hands, and she sat so still that for a second, it seemed as if she had fallen asleep that way.
Ms. red and yellow hair. Thin, green stream of negative energy. Smells of frustration—no... no, wait—what's that word again? Oh, yea, confliction! She must have done something horrible to someone she cares about. No, no, wait! It would be smoggy if she already did it. She's planning to do it. Oooh, how mysterious. How juicy.
As she passed the girl, just out of curiosity, Sonata tilted her head to catch a glimpse of her face.
How—What the what?
"Sunset?" she yelped, nearly dropping her burger.
At the sound of her scream, Sunset Shimmer's head popped up, and her wide eyes took in the unexpected sight before her.
"You!" Sunset retorted, straightening herself into an upright position.
The Siren immediately passed her the most disgusted of frowns.
"Eew, gross!" she grumbled, swishing the shake cup around in her hand, almost as if she was considering tossing its contents in the mortal's direction.
Looking as if she had expected this type of response from her, Sonata watched on as the mortal girl rolled her eyes, and slumped against the back of her seat.
"So you work nights here, huh? Super. I knew this place only mattered before nine AM and after midnight," Sunset mumbled, turning her head away. "Shoulda just gone to Sugarcube instead."
"Hey! Don't you say that about Sammy's!" Sonata hissed, stomping her foot. This response wasn't brought on by a need to defend her place of employment so much as it was because she just wanted a reason to yell at the horrible, little creature who had stolen her powers, and with it her very life.
Sunset leaned forward upon the table, working her jaw as she thought to herself. After a moment, she shook her head.
"You're right. It's not the owner's fault that you and your sisters are prolific liars. That smile of yours probably won him over just like that, huh?" she added with a snap of her fingers.
Alright. That was the second time today someone had called her a liar, and she would not let it go unaddressed. Leaning forward, Sonata slammed her burger and rapidly melting shake onto the table, ignoring the splatter of chocolate sludge that landed all over her right hand.
"You stupid, little thingies are so...." Her cheeks puffed out to twice their usual size. "We hardly ever lie! Keeping secrets isn't lying, Sunset. The only reason we would lie is cause you thingies are always trying to starve us, or burn us, or poison us, or chop our heads off when you find out what we are. Besides, you critters lie all the time, and for way less important stuff, so there!"
Her tongue lolled out of her mouth again. "If you hate this place so bad, then why don't you just leave, and buy your burgers somewhere else?"
"Because I'm afraid that if I leave, I'll run into the grumpy one next, and my day has already been long enough with just the two of you popping up," Sunset snorted, grabbing a handful of napkins, and spitefully tossing it over the Siren's hand, still planted there, covered in cold, sticky slush.
Sonata didn't seem to notice this as the girl's statement had set her mind to buzzing. What did Sunset mean by referencing two Sirens? Had she seen one of her sisters that day?
"What's your shtick gonna be, huh?" the mortal smirked, leaning onto one arm. "Begging me to help you instead of just trying to guilt trip me?"
"You saw one of my sisters?" Sonata inquired, ignoring the girl's rudeness.
"Oh, don't act like you didn't know," Sunset laughed. "Adagio was—"
"Adagio!" the Siren gasped, eyes going wide, her focus fading off to somewhere in the distance.
The long silence that ensued was an uncomfortable one. Sonata remained frozen, looking very much like an animatronic whose batteries had died whilst chocolate goo and bits of soiled paper continued to seep in a puddle around her hand. Sunset's eyes darted about as she waited impatiently for the Siren to finish whatever drawn out cerebration she was currently attempting to process through that inconceivable noggin of hers.
"Uh huh... Uh huh," Sonata mumbled to herself, as one thought connected to another.
"Uhh, your sister—" Sunset attempted to clarify, only to be silenced by the spacey immortal's raised finger.
"Nuh uh. Don't tell me. Almost got it," the Siren chided, shaking her head.
After about one minute more, it all finally dawned upon her. She had figured out what her sister had done and why. Anyone who might have happened to be watching her at that particular moment,would almost certainly be able to see the light bulb go on in her head, as well as hear the 'ding' of some distant bell—which may or may not have been the sound of the oven timer wafting out from the restaurant's kitchen.
"Ohhhhh!" the Siren gasped, her eyes going wide as they trained themselves back upon Sunset.
"Glad to see that you've returned safely from your trip," the girl mocked her.
"What?" Sonata asked, her face contorting in confusion.
"Because you were—" the mortal began before recognizing this as a futile mission. "Actually, nevermind."
The words had barely left her lips before the waitress smiled brightly, and rushed off. A few moments later, she returned with Sunset's order: a pizza burger and fries, one huge drink, and an ice cream topped brownie to boot. She slid the enormous spread before the girl, plopped down in the seat opposite her, and then proceeded to shove a fresh spoon right in front of her nose. Apprehensively, Sunset took it.
"Um, I didn't order all of this," she murmured, her eyes never wavering from the Siren's eerie smile.
"It's on the house," Sonata giggled, urging her along with a wave of her hand.
Taking a moment to gulp down the nervous lump caught in her throat, Sunset eyed the almost too elaborately built ice cream brownie sitting before her, and shoved her spoon into it.
"Al... alright," she stammered, raising the utensil to her lips, and cautiously popping it into her mouth. Her eyes clenched shut as she waited for the arsenic laced chocolate sauce to kick in. When it did not, she hummed with delight instead, and enthusiastically took another bite, and then another.
"Mmm. Vis is prrr good!" she blubbered through a mouthful of whipped cream and cocoa. "Didjoo make it?"
Sonata's smile only grew wider, a sight which made Sunset's chewing slow down significantly.
"You know, Sunset, Adagio isn't as bad as you probably think she is. None of us are," the blue girl began softly, moving to rest her cheek in her right palm before noting that it was still covered in a sticky, brown and white mess, and shifting to the clean hand instead. Sunset shot her a look that seemed to scream: Here we go, but somehow, the Siren managed to ignore it.
"You probably don't believe me, but it's true."
Sonata took this opportunity to pull a few fresh napkins from the holder, and finally wipe her hand clean of the chocolate grime. Then, picking up her own burger, she took a huge, greedy bite.
"She likes playing piano, especially for an audience, and she's really good at helping me get tangles out of my hair, and once, about a decade ago when we were living as teenagers full time, she let me throw a sleepover party for my birthday. She even bought a cake! It was an ice cream cake, too. My favourite!"
Sunset certainly could not imagine a nest of immortal, energy-sucking, sea monsters turned human doing something as mundane as combing each other's hair or celebrating birthdays. She snorted a laugh of disbelief, gulped down a mouthful of ice cream, and quickly tucked into her own burger.
"Y... you hrv a birfday?" she sputtered through her stuffed maw.
"Uh huh," Sonata nodded, taking a sip from her now melted shake, and resultantly shooting the cup a disgusted sneer before pushing it off to the side. "They're not our real birthdays or anything. We don't remember those. But, we kinda just picked a time of year and date that felt right using astrono... astrol..."
"Astrology," Sunset finished for her before taking a sip from her soda.
"Yea, that! Astrology books and stuff. Just for fun, y'know? Adagio made herself a Leo. I couldn't decide whether to be a Cancer or a Gemini or an Aquarius, so Adagio just called me "spaced out" and told me I was an Aquarius. Seems to be holding up pretty good so far. Aria thought it was stupid and pointless, so Adagio and I just picked a birthday for her. We made her an Aries on a Taurus cusp. She always yells a lot on her birthday, too, especially if we get her really good presents. That's how we know that she likes it."
Sunset couldn't help but chuckle at the mental image. It did seem to make a ton of sense. "Yea, yelling. That one, Aria, seems like she's into that."
Sonata nodded, missing the lighthearted nature of the comment.
"Yea. Actually, she used to yell a bunch about you back when we first started going to CHS," the Siren added, tapping at her lip. "I think she had a crush on you or something. One time she said that your jacket looked like you made it out of used tin foil and heavy duty trash bags."
Sunset recoiled. Her hands instinctively moved to wrap themselves about her shoulders. Sonata, seeing this, frantically shook her hands.
"Oh, no, you've got it all wrong! That means she really liked it! Aria's just like that. You've gotta just flip whatever she says around sometimes... a lot of times."
These words seemed to settle Sunset's nerves. She thought to herself whilst popping open the nearby ketchup bottle, and squeezing some onto her fries. Her eyes nervously darted between the plate and Sonata as she attempted to think of something to add to the conversation.
"So... a crush on me, huh?" she squawked rather awkwardly. "Is, uh... is that a thing with you three or something?"
"Is what a thing?" Sonata shrugged innocently, taking a gamble, and stealing one of Sunset's fries.
"Oh, you know," Sunset replied, pushing the basket of wedges forward to the Siren's delight. "You're immortal, spirit entities or something, right?"
"Ionno," Sonata shrugged, jamming a handful of fries into her mouth.
"How do you not know what... Anyway..." she sighed, shaking her head, "I figure something like ideas on who to love would be this sort of ethereal, fluid thing to beings like you."
"Ohhh," Sonata coughed, involuntarily giggling whilst attempting to swallow at the same time. Biting her lip, she very clearly began to blush purple. "That's not really true. First of all, “love” is kind of a strong word for us.”
Lifting her burger, she hesitated just before taking another bite. “And secondly, only Aria is kinda like that… but only kinda. She's always been that way, though, now that I think about it. Even before we becam—"
The Siren gasped suddenly, clapping her greasy palms over her mouth. She looked as if she had almost said something forbidden for anyone to hear. Of course, this only worked to pique Sunset's interest even more. Thankfully, being polite, she did not press the subject of this strange slip up any further.
"I, uhh... I don't think it's ever clicked with Aria to care what anyone else thinks about it," Sonata continued with a gulp, attempting to mask her folly. "Adagio is typically into guys, but between you and me, I think it's only because they usually make easier fans for her, and not as good of competition. Otherwise, I don't think she'd be into anyone."
This drew another laugh from Sunset which simmered into a curious silence as she noted that Sonata had not mentioned herself.
"Well... what about you?"
The Siren's eyes went wide. Caught chewing another huge gobful of burger, she sputtered a couple times, struggling for air. Beating a fist against her chest, she grabbed Sunset's drink, and took a few huge gulps.
"Oh my gosh. Almost died," she gasped after successfully flushing her esophagus clear. Returning to her upright position, she shrugged and gave Sunset a somewhat pained and disinterested look.
"I mean, I like being loved, and sometimes I even think that I can still feel it for thingies like you who aren’t my sisters. I suppose that’s something, right?” She grimaced. “Trying to figure out the nature of love and stuff is so much hard work! I think it's just fun to have fun. You mortals always ruin things thinking about it so much, and trying to tie each other down with your weird jewelry, and rules, and papers that all eventually change every fifty years or so, anyway. It's so silly. Just go with the flow, and enjoy the heart flutters, and flowers, and chocolate, and kisses if somebody wants to give them to you; that's what I say. I mean, it's chocolate for crying out loud! What's there to even think about?"
The Siren took another perturbed bite out of her burger whilst simultaneously grabbing a fistful of fries out of the basket. Clearly, she had not learned her lesson from nearly choking to death a few moments prior. As she munched them all down, she didn't seem to register the warm smile that Sunset was giving her.
"Huh. That actually makes a lot of sense, Sonata," the fiery-haired girl hummed, picking a few fries for herself from the tray, and popping them into her mouth.
"Well, duh. It's not like I'm stupid or something," the Siren replied, grabbing a fresh handful of napkins to wipe away a stray dot of ketchup that had somehow managed to find its way onto her eyelid. "My sisters are smarter though. They both like to read... like... a lot. Adagio is reteaching herself chaos theory for like, the fifth time, whatever that is. She says it's really interesting, but I don't get it. Aria's library of poetry and novels and nonfiction is like, three whole walls long, and that's not even counting the stuff she keeps in the attic. She's got like, everything in there, I swear. Even some originals. Like, really old originals. She lets me borrow the Shakesmare stuff if I promise not to get grape juice on them."
"You read Shakesmare?" Sunset inquired, trying her best not to sound too sarcastic about it. "That's rather dense, isn't it? What with the language and prose and everything."
"Verily, nay, ardently, I agreeth not. O mortaling fair, trailing thy strands plucked from lion's mane in alchemist's dream, weav'd bright the morning star into thy noble crown," the Siren belted before passing a completely dumbstruck Sunset the widest of grins, and then shoving another fistful of fries into her face. This time the ketchup finally found its way smack dab into the center of her forehead.
"Wow," Sunset exhaled, her teal eyes as wide as dinner plates.
"I knrw right?" Sonata mumbled, her cheeks packed to bursting. "Crn you blieve people, in England I mean, used to tlk like that? N' they all wore thur hair like female movie strs frm the nineteen sixties. Weirdos."
A healthy silence ensued as Sunset attempted to reform some semblance of mental cognition from the blow her brain had just received. Eventually, she mustered up enough coherence to speak.
"You girls must've... must've witnessed so much," she huffed, suddenly finding herself breathless. "I couldn't possibly imagine someone getting to see all of that, the slow carving of the world into what it is today."
Sonata nodded, swallowed sharply, and let off a tiny burp.
"Oop! S'cuse me," she squeaked, smiling sweetly. Forgetting this gastrointestinal objection, she dug right back into the basket of fries. "Go ahead. Ask me."
"What do you mean? Ask what?"
This garnered an eyeroll from the Siren.
"Oh, come on. Everyone has questions when they meet an immortal. It sucks that we had to get rid of most of those folks after they asked, but hey, at least that can't happen to you, right?" She beamed as if this was a perfectly normal thing to say to someone.
"Uhh, right," Sunset coughed, edging away from the waitress ever so slightly. Still, she was a natural-born scholar, and the prospect of getting to know whatever she wanted of the past won her over despite the immortal's odd disposition.
"Umm, let's see. Crime and punishment, I guess. I've read some really brutal things about the Middle Ages."
"Oh, believe me, all of that stuff is true," Sonata snorted, her head bobbing up and down. "And those fancy book drawings don't do any of it justice. But, if something happens enough times, people just get used to seeing it, you know? Everyone just adjusted to all that violence like if it was nothing. We used to eat like kings up until the whole "cruel and unusual punishment" stuff came about four hundred years ago. England wasn't as much fun after that so we picked up and moved to Spain. Those Spaniards, I tell ya. They really knew how to cook up some good negative energy."
The Siren's chewing slowed down a bit.
"Hey! Have you ever seen the legs and arms on a guy after they take him off of the rack?" she asked, picking up a few particularly limp and ketchupy fries between her fingers. "They're all like—"
"Ooookay, thanks, but no thanks," Sunset interjected, waving the entire topic off. "I still happen to be eating, here."
"Oh, right," the Siren giggled. "Sorry about that."
"That's okay," Sunset sighed, appearing as if she might never look at ketchup covered fries the same way again. "What about France? Ever been there? That's a nice place, right?"
"Oh, Paris was amazing," Sonata groaned, a huge grin spreading across her face. "Best time of our lives... human lives, I mean. Beautiful clothing, all that awesome art and food, the salons, the dances, our musical performances. Plus, Adagio and Aria were always pretty busy with all their weird, "romantic relationships" and whatnot, so there was less yelling at me which was great. It always smelled really bad, though, I have to admit. And it kinda sucked when everybody we knew started getting their heads chopped off... kinda."
Casually reaching out toward the ketchup bottle, Sonata popped it open once again, and proceeded to squirt more onto the plate of fries. Passing the tray a nauseous look, Sunset quickly lunged out with an arm, and grabbed the container.
"Please. Enough with the ketchup while you're talking about executions, okay?" she pleaded, her face going an odd pallor of green.
Sonata barely heard the girl as she continued to eat whilst pondering to herself.
"Come to think of it, I think Aria keeps her original dress and undergarment pattern book from 1765 laying around somewhere. I bet if we asked real nice, she'd—"
Suddenly she gasped, a thought having struck her.
"You should come and see it! Our library, I mean! I bet Aria would yell at you... a lot," Sonata snickered, passing Sunset a cheeky wink.
"Uh, no thanks. I think I'll pass," Sunset stammered, letting off a sigh of relief when the Siren allowed the matter to drop.
"Whatever. Your loss," she chirped taking another gulp from Sunset's soda. With her burger gone and most of the mortal girl's fries demolished, she now set her hungry sights upon the rapidly melting ice cream brownie. "You gonna finish that?"
Sunset rolled her eyes, and pushed the platter forward. "Here. Knock yourself out."
The Siren eagerly obliged.
Whilst the insatiable immortal stuffed her gob, Sunset watched on curiously. After a moment, the girl's forehead creased with frustration.
"Hey, can I ask you something?"
"Shoot," Sonata blurted in between mouthfuls of ice cream.
"Does... does doing that do anything?" the mortal inquired, pointing to the half devoured brownie.
Sonata gave her a perplexed grimace.
"Doing what?" she asked.
"You know... eating," Sunset hesitated, swiping a palm down the back of her head. "Because, well, your sister mentioned something about you starving or something... because your gems were broken."
All at once, the pep and cheer that had emanated from the sprightly Siren seemed to fall away until she was left sitting there looking deflated and helpless, a stagnant lump of dessert sagging in her cheek. Without answering the question, she chewed once, and swallowed sharply. Large, crocodile tears began trailing down her cheeks.
"Hey. Hey, hey," Sunset tried to comfort her. "Please don't cry. Look, I'm sorry I asked. I promise I won't do it ag—"
"I'm scared," Sonata croaked, eating another spoonful of ice cream, and gazing anywhere but at Sunset's face. "I don't wanna die. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if I expected it, y'know? Like creatures like you do. But, I didn't. It's somethin' that a Siren doesn't even think about. I... I don't even know what it means to..."
Another spoonful. "I'm just really scared."
Sunset grimaced, feeling a stronger sense of confliction beginning to tug at her heart. She moved to reach out, hesitated, thought, and then moved again, stretching forward to place a hand upon Sonata's.
The Siren watched the mortal's eyes go wide, almost as if she had not expected her flesh to feel warm like a normal person's. Neither knowing what to say, Sonata just continued to eat, and Sunset awkwardly pulled away from her, allowing her hands to settle in her lap.
"How... how long?" she asked, her gaze trained down upon her twiddling thumbs.
Sonata simply shrugged, looking quite fed up with the food, the restaurant, and the current conversation.
"Adagio said it's impossible to know. Could be in three hundred years; could be tomorrow, I guess. Idunno."
"And there's absolutely nothing you all can do to stop it?" Sunset prodded. The Siren shook her head.
"Not unless we can get back to Equestria, to our source-beach-thingy, and heal ourselves and our jewels. We need to feed again."
Sunset glowered. Her eyes suddenly darkened.
"Feed..." she murmured. "You mean on—"
"Negative energy. We can't live without it," Sonata finished. "At least not for too long."
Gazing upon Sunset, Sonata witnessed a stream of green slowly beginning to seep out of her. At once, she realized her own mistake, and huffed in defeat before the mortal could utter another word.
"So, you three don't see anything wrong with destroying all of those lives? Don't you feel anything about it at all? Are we really all just food to you?" Sunset pressed as if she already knew the answer.
Her tone worked to annoy Sonata who was already feeling quite on edge. The Siren's entire aura darkened, and she passed a disdainful glare in the girl's direction.
"Hey! You don't know what we think or how we feel about stuff. You're just a mortal! You don't know anything about anything; so, just shut up, okay?"
The vitriol in her voice hitched itself onto the prideful part of Sunset's ego, and remained there. At once, the girl turned up her nose, and huffed at the pitiful-looking Siren. Collecting her things together, she quickly stood, reached into her pocket, and pulled out a wad of crumpled bills.
"You know, for a second there, I thought that maybe you'd be different," Sunset sniffed, "but you're just like your sisters, aren't you?"
She tossed the bills down in front of the sulking, blue girl who grimaced at the sight.
"I don't want it. I told you it's on the house," Sonata grumbled, looking away.
"Well, I'd prefer not to be indebted to something that sees me as a snack, thank you very much," Sunset quipped, turning about to head toward the door. "Keep the change," she called before Sonata heard the jingling of the entrance bell resound throughout the diner.
When she had left, the Siren angrily snatched up the bills, and shoved them into her pocket. Collecting together the table's used plates and cups, she stormed off toward the kitchen. Lost in her own mind, she never even noticed Peachy walking in the opposite direction, her arms laden with a mountain of plates. At once, they both bumped into each other, sending all manners of food and rubbish flying into the air, and then clattering to the floor.
Both waitresses stood there gawking for a moment, the eyes of the entire restaurant planted squarely upon them. At first, when Peachy glanced up, Sonata was quite sure that she would scream, curse, and order her to clean it up all by herself. Feeling the culmination of her entire bad day rushing up into that tear triggering part of her chest, the Siren's eyes again began to leak, this time with vexation. Her running mascara didn't help stave off the impression of complete exhaustion.
"Just yell and get it over with," she grumbled, crouching down in order to start picking up the plates. She dared not meet Peach's eyes again.
Seeing her friend so distraught, Peach let off a long sigh, and hitched her hand onto her hip. Scratching at the back of her head, she then crouched down in front of Sonata, pulled the plates from out of her grip, and set them aside. Grasping the Siren's hands, she tugged her upright, and gave her a weary smile.
"Hey, Sonny. Come with me for a second," she urged her with a lighthearted giggle. "Your makeup's running."
Candy Ice, who had been circling the scene, guffawing to herself and grinning like a hungry buzzard, grimaced when she saw the two girls turn to head toward the back.
"Hey, who do you two think is gonna clean that up?" she spat, pointing to the food splattered floor.
Thinking to herself for a moment, Peachy turned to face the waitress and smiled.
"The rest of my tips for the night if you do us a solid, and clean that up. Whaddya say, Candy?" she offered, cocking a brow.
Candy inhaled sharply and sneered, scanning the angel-eyed girl over.
"How much do you usually make on nights like this?" she inquired.
"From what's left of my time? You'll likely get a solid fifty bucks out of it," Peachy replied, holding her confident stance.
Sonata huffed, and jutted her lip out in Candy's direction. If she were able wield her Siren song, Candy's services would have been complimentary. Then again, if she still had her powers none of these distressing incidents would have ever occurred in the first place.
Approaching them quickly, Candy snatched the plates up from the counter, handling them like the heaviest soiled diapers in the world.
"Deal. But it better be fifty, whether it comes outta your tip or elsewhere, got it?"
"Scout's honor," Peachy swore, crossing her chest with her index finger, and raising her opposite hand. Turning about, she squeezed Sonata's arm, and led her through the red, kitchen door.
"Come on Sonny. I think I've got some of the waterproof stuff in my locker."