The room that Aria found herself waking up in was a sty. All of their costumes from the performance were strewn about on the couch and the floor, sticky sweet stains covering their entirety. Other discarded articles of clothing abounded, stockings, bras and panties, long overdue for a trip to the laundry mat.
In a daze Aria stirred from her slumber, she had been relegated to the hide-a-bed while Sonata and Adagio had gotten use of the queen bed. She was greatly regretting leaving the sleeping arrangements up to drawing straws, especially now that she'd spent a rough night on the mattress full of pointy coil springs.
Both her sisters were already up, Sonata was still in her P.J.'s and watching some educational programming. Adagio she could hear was in the bathroom, still trying to sing in the shower despite their wrecked voices. For a second she could sympathize with the audience from last night, then she remembered the rotten fruit and the torches and pitchforks, she went straight back to despising every last one of them.
"Adagio, how long are you going to be in there? I have to go." Aria grumbled.
"Do you know how long it takes to wash this hair?"
"I don't know, ten minutes, like any normal person."
Adagio scoffed at her ignorance, "I wish." Just then there was a knock at the door, when she looked through the peep hole she could see it was the hotel manager impatiently standing there.
"Adagio, we did pay for the room right?"
"With what? We've been homeless for years. I just used a little siren song to persuade the clerk to let us stay for free." Adagio proclaimed proudly.
"Well he's here now and we don't have our powers anymore. I think he may be here for his money." The bathroom door flung open, Adagio's modesty barely covered by a towel.
"S*#@, Aria can you and Sonata start getting our stuff packed and out the window? I'll throw something on and distract him." The knocking came again, this time louder.
"Wait, don't bother." Aria said as she began stuffing loose garments into her duffle.
"You're naked." Aria stated flatly.
"Oh, oh right!" Adagio checked the towel to make sure it was indeed covering her enough then opened the door. "Yes, can I help you?"
"Good morning miss, I- I I I." The manager had caught sight of the half exposed beauty in front of him, he then had to remind himself of the equally stunning age gap between them. "Sorry to interrupt you shower miss, but there seems to be a problem with the payment for the room. Namely that there is none."
Adagio put on a false shyness with a side of naiveté "Oh dear, but I gave the desk clerk my credit card when we first arrived. He said he'd have to hold onto it until we checked out. I didn't do something wrong, did I?"
"Kevin did what?! *Ahem* I apologize miss, I know our worker out front has always been poorly motivated but I'd never have suspected him of taking advantage of our valued customer's trust. Rest assured the hotel will compensate you for any fraudulent charges he made using your card."
She may not have had siren magic any longer but Adagio Dazzle still knew how to play a sucker. "If I may sir, can I put some clothes on and join you while you talk with this Kevin?"
"Yes of course, I want him to look you in the eye when he tries to weasel out of what he did. I'll um, be waiting outside." The door closed behind him and Adagio went back inside.
"Alright girls, I bought us a couple of minutes, can one of you hand me my pants?" There was an eerie lack of response as well as a cold breeze flowing through the room. "Aria? Sonata?" A quick look out the window revealed her worst fears, both her siblings were running full bore down the street in their PJ's. Carefully Adagio edged out the window and started chasing after them, "I know I said get our stuff packed but do you think you could have at least left me my underwear?"
"Sorry Dagi, here's your bag if you want it." Sonata tossed the duffle making her sister nearly trip once she caught it. "Ari texted our handlers letting them know we'll be at the bus stop."
"We wouldn't want them thinking we're off doing illegal things, like bailing out on our hotel bill." Aria said with a smirk.
"Shut up Aria."
Thankfully the sidewalks were nearly empty save for the occasional dog walker, apart from second glances at the half naked girls running down the road nothing stopped them on their way to a public restroom. One quick change in the stalls later and they were prepared as they could be for school, all their earthly belongings carried in their two pieces of luggage.
Soon enough the big yellow bus rolled up to the stop and opened its doors. In each seat were student's they recognized, some from the cafeteria others from the tryouts and some still from the angry mob the night before. In the back was Pinkie Pie eagerly waving her arms and bouncing in her seat. "Hey there new best buddy! I saved some seats for us!"
The long walk down the length of the bus was covered by angry glares and suspicious eyes, finally the three sirens took their seats in the back. Pinkie had the window seat and Sunset Shimmer was in the next row up, Flash Sentry was sitting slouched on the row opposite of them. Sup pretty boy, I'm surprised you’re not off cruising the roads in your car." Aria ignored the open seat for her by Pinkie and instead forced her way next to Flash.
"Yeah, I would be driving my car but it's in the body shop because of some damage caused by a certain someone." he clearly was still feeling raw over the incident.
"I said I'll pay for any repairs."
"Yeah, I'll believe it when I see a check in my hands."
"I'm good for it, but it might take a while." Aria gave a subtle eye signal to her sisters, now was the time to start the con.
Adagio was first to catch on, "We were evicted from our apartment this morning. Everything we own is in these bags we're caring with us."
"Yeah, we're like hobos now. Hopefully we can find a derailed box car somewhere, if not we'll have to share a refrigerator box." Sonata said, never breaking from her happy grin.
"That's awful!" Pinkie cried out.
"Gosh, I know living on the street feels, I didn't have any place to stay or anyone to care for me when I first came through the portal. And that was back when I was only fourteen, at least you have each other to lean on." Sunset placed a hand on Adagio's shoulder in comfort, "And me too if you ever need me."
"I know, somehow we'll make it through. But this only makes things harder for us, without a place of residence getting jobs will be that much harder." Adagio turned to Sonata to pour on the charm.
"Hey best buddy, you don't happen to know anyone who could put us up for a night or two, do ya?" She was nervously clutching onto her ponytail and biting her lip.
"Well we have plenty of room at my place, two of my sisters are away at college. I'm sure if I text them they wouldn't mind sharing their rooms. If nothing else you can stay the night, it'll be just like a sleepover! Strange, that'll be the second one I've hosted in a week." Pinkie whipped out her cellphone and began clicking away at the keypad.
Aria smugly smiled to herself, goodie goodie types like these were oh so easy to manipulate. Speaking of manipulation, "So Flash, I take it we'll be in the same classes right? It'd be pretty hard to keep an eye on me if we weren't."
"Yeah, Principle Celestia emailed me our class schedules last night. We all have homeroom together then we're in pre-calc, literature, home ec and American history." He stuffed the list back into his backpack, "Did you get the other's schedules last night Pinkie?"
Before she could answer Aria interjected, "Wait, she split us up? Why would she do that?"
"I think she might think you’re a bad influence on each other…that or it's because CHS is overcrowded as is and she had to place you where she could." Sunset hypothesized.
"It's fine Aria, we have homeroom and then the lunch hour as well." Adagio assured her.
She was having a hard time admitting it to herself, but Aria didn't want to face the school without her sisters by her side. "Fine."
Before being allowed into class they had to stop into the principal’s office to pick up their collection of textbooks, ones that Aria would swear up and down weighed at least eighty pounds. Thankfully their escorts were outside waiting for them and gladly shared the load. "So what lockers did they give you all?" asked Pinkie.
"I'm in four thirty five, Sonata's in four thirty seven and she put Aria at two thousand five."
"OOH! I'm in four hundred thirty six! That means we're locker buddies as well!" Pinkie was ecstatic.
"Flash do you know where my locker is?" asked Aria.
"Two thousand five? Um, that's in the dark hallway right Sunset?"
"Right, you should already know how to get there, it's where you all were mocking me the other day." Sunset said with notable resentment in her voice.
"Sorry about that, new best buddy." The words were forced and unnatural coming out of Adagio.
"Anyways Aria, I'd be careful walking there alone. There's no light and allot of the school's rougher characters like to hang around there."
"Why Flash, I didn't know that you cared." Aria said sweetly as she inched closer, "I'll just have to stick close so you can protect me from the 'rougher characters.'"
The entire homeroom class Aria was trying her darnedest to catch Flash's wandering eye, using all her skills of seduction she had picked up in her thousand years on earth. The fluttering eyelashes, the alluring stare, hell even the kissey faces weren't working. Either he was completely oblivious or that Twilight Sparkle had a greater hold on his heart than she had anticipated. Eventually she grew tired of failing and actually started to pay attention to the class, right as the lesson was concluding.
The first bell rang notifying everyone to get ready for their next classes, "Do you want me to help you get your books?" Flash asked as he got up from his seat.
A thought occurred to her, it could work but he couldn't be there from the start. "No I should be fine, besides you have to get your own books too." Aria gathered up her bag, "I'll meet you outside the classroom at the next bell."
Second bell was in five minuets so she would have to act fast, step one was to get back to her locker and find one of the ruffians who hung around there. Thankfully she found one right away, a junior puffing away at a cigarette he must have smuggled inside the building, he would do. With book in hand she casually walked past and dropped the hefty text book on his foot.
"Gah! What the hell!" the teen shrieked.
"Oops, clumsy me." Aria knelt down and picked the book up, then proceeded to drop it onto his crotch. "My aim was a bit off last time."
Fury filled his nostrils, he began seeing red. "You b*#@%! Wait I know you, your one of those monsters who was controlling everyone's minds. Because of you me and my girlfriend got in an argument and she broke up with me."
"I think that has less to do with me and more with you looking like a shaved chimp." Aria goaded him on, she only had to wait for the second bell and-
Bingo. "Mind giving that back? I have pre-calculus to get to."
"Oh I'll give you something alright," in a flash the boy was on his feet, impressive for someone who'd just sustained a groin injury. Less impressive but certainly more scary was him grabbing hold of Aria and placing her in a choke hold. "Everyone will thank me for getting rid of a monster like you."
Aria soon found that he was serious, she could feel his arm crushing her windpipe. Things went black for a while, all she could recall was the sound of a struggle then her head hitting something hard. The next thing she knew Aria was on the linoleum floor gasping for air and coughing up little specks of blood.
Standing above her illuminated in florescent white was the object of her interest, Flash was saying something but she couldn't hear, the whole world was ringing. "*IIIIIIIINNNNNGGGGG* Aria! Aria focus on the sound of my voice. Can you see my hand? How many fingers am I holding up?" Flash wasn't quite sure what to do in this kind of situation, he'd never saved someone from being strangled before.
Once Aria's eyes stopped lolling about inside her skull she could focus enough to see the look of sheer terror on Flash's face. "I was going to get my books when he attacked me. Oh god Flash, if you hadn't come I'd be dead. What did you do with that brute?"
He pointed over to the slumped over body laying against the wall, his eye was already growing swollen and purple. "I can't believe what I saw, I was joking about the rough characters." It was clear adrenaline was still coursing through his veins, "I know everyone is still upset from the concert but I had no idea anyone at CHS was capable of this."
"He mentioned something about his girlfriend breaking up with him, he blamed me and my sisters."
"I can at least understand that, you three screwed with my head so much I nearly wrecked things with Twilight." Now was the time, to start planting doubt.
"Flash, you may not know this but our powers, when we had them that is. We could only make people more cooperative with our desires. We can't make anyone do or say anything that they didn't have room for in their hearts." This wasn't strictly true, if they had succeeded in draining the magic from every last CHS student then their powers would have had much more potent effects.
"What are you saying, that deep down I don't trust Twilight or-"
"I'm not saying anything Flash, just that whatever you said or did before the battle of the bands was your own desire. All we did was remove your inhibitions." Aria let the point stew inside him for a time, then she remembered that she'd just survived an attempt at her life. "Do you think you can save the deep thought for later? I'd like to get to the nurses office as soon as possible."
"Oh right, I'll get you there right away. Are you alright to walk?"
Aria thought on it for a second, she could feel the shortness of breath leaving her but then again, "No, I don't think so. Can you carry me there Flash?"
"No problem, just hold on tight and I'll have you there in no time." Flash hunkered down and gently slipped is arms underneath her. Once he lifted Aria's dainty frame off the floor he held her close to his chest, one arm supporting her back, his other hand ended up being on her thigh. She could feel his touch right through the maroon pants she was wearing.
"Whoa, that's pretty forward of you Mr. Sentry."
Hot blood rushed through his cheeks, "Sorry, I don't know how to carry a girl."
"Flash." Aria placed her hand on his and slid it back, "I didn't say stop."
Aria felt pleased with herself, she'd achieved the first step of her plan and the seeds of doubt had been planted. Admittedly the road to get to that first step was not one she would have taken by choice, but it was success nonetheless. The Dazzlings had a place to stay, their handlers seemed to have fallen for their whiles and now Aria had Twilight Sparkle's little boyfriend groping her in the hallway, a rousing success all around.