• Published 3rd Mar 2015
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Sucker for a Cute Face - Eyeswirl the Weirded



Adagio finds Fluttershy alone one morning, and many to follow.

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Chapter 15: Sweetie Gets a New Pair of Shoes

Beaming, Sonata triumphantly rested her hands on her hips. "I knew the doctor get-up would help!"

Adagio chuckled. "Your consideration is most appreciated, Nata."

Knees shaking where she stood, Fluttershy maintained eye-contact with what was to be her patient, who looked pleased, but still a little puzzled.

Aria headed to the door, hooking Sonata by the arm. "We'll be downstairs, holler if ya need anything." They closed the door behind them, which left the room in silence.

"Uhm," Fluttershy began to her patient for the day, absent-mindedly smoothing out her skirt, "I-I'm here to take care of you, s-so, uh, t-to start, how are you feeling?"

"Hungry."

Her eyes were half-lidded, but Fluttershy couldn't tell if she was just tired or not, though what might have been a wolfish smile felt like a hint. Then again, maybe that was just her hungry face? Did she have one of those? "Uh, okay, I, um, I could probably prepare some soup, warm liquids might help with-"

Adagio started laughing, though it quickly became a coughing fit. Once she recovered, she managed a smirk. "Warm liquids? You're going to have to be more specific, Doctor."

Turning redder than the bedspread, Fluttershy rapidly waved her arms in an 'X' pattern. "N-nothing like that!! Soup, tea, something to help you-"

She was cut off by more coughing, Adagio holding both hands to her mouth as her convulsions wracked her whole torso.

Worried now, Fluttershy took a step toward the door. "J-just hold tight, I'll get you some-"

"Wait," her patient rasped, breathing a little heavily, "I... h-have to ask something..." She waited until Fluttershy turned back to her, though she couldn't really appreciate the sight in her condition anyway. "Listen..." Clearing her throat, she smiled and cupped her hands around her mouth while talking to the door. "If you two want to join us in the bedroom, you only have to ask!"

There came a resounding thud from the door, followed by loud whispers Fluttershy couldn't quite make out and rapid, retreating footsteps, Adagio just laughing.

Were the others listening at the door? They don't trust me? Well, it wasn't like she could blame them, but the thought still drew a quiet sigh.

"Something wrong, Sweetie?" Adagio was smiling a little at her, or giving a very weak smirk.

"Oh, n-no, I just... how did you know they were there?"

"Apart from the shadows under the door? They worry, this is kind of a rare thing for me." She examined one of her own hands, slowly waving it in front of her face. "I'm all for trying new things, but this is a total miss so far." Shrugging, she returned her slightly reddened eyes to Fluttershy, her expression a tired version of the curious face. "So, what's going on, Sweetie? What are you doing here? And, I'm not complaining about the outfit, but...?"

Trying to ignore the heat in her face and the waves of self-consciousness that came with it, Fluttershy lowered her eyes and focused on answering the questions in order. "W-well, I knew you were sick today, I'm here to help you get better, and, uh, S-Sonata kind of, your house has a costume room, I-I didn't really have a say in, uh-"

Adagio giggled. "Forced cosplay? You don't have to make excuses for me, Sweetie, you can dress in whatever tickles your-" Teasing was halted by another coughing fit, the smile gone when she caught her breath. "...What do you mean you 'knew' I was sick today?"

Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy explained the situation, but her unintentional victim's face didn't change until the end, when she started to giggle. Giggling became laughing, laughing became mad cackling, mad cackling became another coughing fit, however interladen with mad cackling.

"Y-you even warned me," Adagio managed while wiping away a tear, "you said in the first few days that I'd get sick, and here we are!"

Fluttershy shook her head a little. "We didn't share anything yesterday, other th-than, the, uhm..."

A little more color returned to Adagio's cheeks as she scratched her head and glanced away. "Oh, right..." Then she half-smirked. "Looks like you're a, I mean, your kiss of death is-no, wait, uhm..." She visibly puzzled for the better part of a minute, Fluttershy standing in perplexed silence. "I, I know there's a gag in there somewhere about certain diseases passed through physical means, but..." Looking at her nurse, it was clear she wasn't impressed by this bout of wordplay, which made Adagio pout. "Oh, give me a break, this is a lot harder when you're sick."

Smiling a little wider than she'd meant to, Fluttershy nodded. "I-I'm sure it is." Then the situation caught up with her and she frowned, her face contrite. "So, uh, s-sorry I gave you my cold, I never thought-"

"Wait." Adagio was holding up a hand, her face simultaneously weary and solemn. "If you're about to go off on a tangent about how my getting sick was all your fault, you should know that in a building with that many people, I could have picked up the bug from anyone at any time, transmission of diseases is an involuntary thing, and-" she was cut off by another coughing fit, one that left her hunched over and breathing heavily.

Fluttershy didn't even remember moving to sit by her on the bed or put a steadying hand on her back, but the once-proud siren leader just looked so pitiful. "You've been coughing a lot, does your throat hurt at all?"

There was a tired eye-roll, though Adagio visibly bit back a sarcastic retort. "Yes, you could say that."

"Gargling saltwater might help a bit, can you wait here a minute?"

Leaning back on the pillow mound, Adagio nodded.

Getting up, Fluttershy stopped at the door, looking over her shoulder. "And, Adagio?" She smiled a little. "Thank you."

Managing a tiny grin of her own, Adagio dismissively waved for her to get going.

---

After a quick trip to the kitchen to prepare a little mug of saltwater (Fluttershy learned that they stored even more odd things in their cupboards here, but she did manage to find the salt) and Adagio taking a minute to gargle it, she spat the contents back into the mug and cleared her throat. "Well," she managed, "can't say how well it worked, but time will tell."

Setting the mug on the bedside table (which, for some reason, was a small, personal refrigerator with the door ripped off its hinges), Fluttershy smiled. "How about the blankets? Can I help you get warmer?" She flushed crimson the second she realized her word choice. "N-no, I mean, if you're, uh, c-cold, then-"

"Help me get warmer?" Making another weary smirk, Adagio tugged the sheets just a little higher around herself in an almost defensive manner. "Just what did you have in mind while I'm so weak and helpless?"

Remembering that Adagio was ill and needed help, perhaps in more than one sense of the word, Fluttershy did her best to keep her cool. "More blankets, for k-keeping you warm, and nothing else."

"Really?" Peeking beneath her covers, Adagio's grin widened to almost-normal proportions. "You know, that might actually be a good idea, I'm a little lacking in warm fabric under this, if you catch my meaning."

"Uhm-"

"Wanna see?"

"N-NO I DON-"

Adagio quickly threw off her blanket, Fluttershy immediately shrieking and covering her face with both hands, then dropping them again when Adagio let out a sound of discomfort. Adagio was, in fact, wearing the pants portion of her pajamas, shivering lightly and hugging herself.

Dammit, forgot I really was trying to stay warm!!

Adagio immediately wrapped herself in the blanket again, feeling foolish for having removed it at all.

Her doctor moved for the door again. "I'll t-try to find you some more blankets, just wait-"

"Don't," Adagio said a little more pleadingly than she meant to, "what I have here is fine, provided I don't do that again." Simple plan; heavily imply nudity, then reveal it to be false and follow up with poking about specific expectations, but the room felt deceptively warmer under the covers. The focus now on her moment of stupidity, she opted to change the subject with a little smile. "You wear that look well, by the way!"

Despite the less-than-fluid transition, Fluttershy tinted pink and fidgeted in place, eyeing the floor with one hand unnecessarily smoothing out her skirt, the other adjusting her little hat. "I, uhm, th-thank you."

The smile came a little more naturally as she took a few seconds to admire Sonata's selection, making the mental note to get her a snow-cone or something later. Speaking of... "You know, Sonata is probably, for lack of better words, holding your clothes hostage until she's convinced I'm getting better." Her eyes lit up with wicked glee. "So take good care of me, or you might have to go home naked."

Fluttershy stepped forward and grabbed her by the hand, her face equally full of resolve and compassion as they locked eyes. "Of course I will." Adagio was only staring at her wide-eyed as the words sunk in, turning Fluttershy bright red again. "I-I mean, health, help, of c-course I'll-"

To Fluttershy's surprise, Adagio gave her that earnest, ray-of-sunshine grin, her own face coloring a little more. "I get it, Sweetie, thank you." Eyeing the thin, white heels however, she managed a normal smirk. "So, not having any trouble with those? I know that kind of shoe gives a lot of girls trouble, but you look like you're not even a little uncomfortable."

Glancing down at her feet, Fluttershy managed a smile despite a little blush. Heels may not have been for her, but this was a subject she had some experience with. "Actually, I've worn shoes like this a few times before. There are some harmful, long-term effects, but they can be minimized by finding shoes that fit right, not having the heel be too high, internal cushioning, and thicker heels for more stability, like what you usually wear," she couldn't help a giggle, "give or take the spikes."

For just a second, Adagio's jaw dropped, the look on her face making Fluttershy think of Applejack saying something like 'Well, shut mah mouth!' That expression quickly became what Fluttershy interpreted to be a sickly, tired, but no less emphatic grin of pride. "You're just full of fun surprises, aren't you? Where did you get to be an expert in high heels, Sweetie?"

Her cheeks growing a little rosier, Fluttershy quickly looked down at the floor, though not enough to hide a wavering, self-conscious smile. "I-I wouldn't say 'expert,' but, uh... y-you know my friend Rarity? I was her guinea pig when she first started working with clothes. She may not need me as much for that these days, but we learned a lot working together."

Something about the display, about the way Fluttershy spoke of her friend, the way she smiled in recounting their time together, was giving Adagio another dose of that odd little tingle she'd been getting more and more lately. It was, but the surge was cut off by another painful, convulsion-inducing coughing fit. When she looked up again, Fluttershy was looking back at her with concern.

"Do you have any aspirin here? Reducing pain should help to ease recovery."

Not about to argue, Adagio cleared her throat as best she could. "Try the mirror-compartment in the bathroom, third door from the left just outside this hall." She waited in silence as Fluttershy jogged out of the room, gently closing the door behind her. About two minutes later, there came sounds of things bumping against the wall outside her door, the things in the nets clattering together as Fluttershy searched through them. Apparently, there hadn't been any aspirin in the bathroom after all, but Adagio could have sworn that was where she'd been leaving everything she identified as medicine. Regardless, her faithful nurse must have found her prize, because she came back with the headache cancellation pills and a glass of water a few minutes later.

Setting the glass on the bedside broken mini-fridge, she smiled. "I found it! The bottle was next to your fire extinguisher and a bag of saw dust." Sitting on the bed and twisting the cap off the aspirin bottle, she gave Adagio a perplexed little head tilt. "Um, speaking of, why do you have those things hanging in the hallway?"

Adagio took one of the offered tablets and picked up the glass, which she noticed was just a bit heavier than the mug had been. "In case of fire."

"How does the saw dust help?"

"It helps make more fire."

"M-more fire?!"

Tilting her head a little, Adagio looked as though she didn't feel this called for explaining. "Saw dust for making the fire bigger, fire extinguisher for putting it out. Simple. We haven't had to use the dust yet, but I won't make the same mistake twice."

...Okay, thought the bewildered caretaker, it's Pinkie Pie logic. Process. You can do this. Thinking about it, she conceded that if nothing else, sawdust would probably make a fire a little bigger, even if not for very long. "I... guess that makes sense?"

Adagio nodded. "I thought so." Placing the pill on her tongue, she gingerly raised the glass to her lips with tremulous hands, spilling more than a little of its contents as she did.

Fluttershy frowned in concern. "Uh, d-do you need help with-"

The sickly siren wasn't quite scowling, but she was definitely annoyed as she spoke without disturbing the tablet on her tongue. "I can drink from a glass by myselv, tank you." She glared down at her still-shaking hands and the heavy glass they held. Was it really necessary to bring her a full glass? Or for that matter, a glass-glass? With a heavy, thick base? The plastic cups hanging in one of the living room nets would have made this much easier, but she supposed she couldn't ask Fluttershy to know where those were. Taking a quick breath, she tried again, focusing on the glass. The heavy, unnecessarily water-filled glass that continued to shake, Adagio feeling like she was being judged for every drop that fell, only getting worse as a badly-timed coughing fit sprung up. Fluttershy used that chance to take the glass from her. Now she scowled. "I thed I can-"

"No, you can't." Fluttershy's eyes were compassionate, but firm. "You're a little weaker than I thought right now, please lean back a bit and I'll f-feed you."

Taking the pill out of her mouth, Adagio raised an eyebrow. "It's drinking from a cup. I can handle it."

Holding the glass out of her reach, Fluttershy indicated the little wet spots on the velvety, red blankets. "I don't think you can. If you spill it on yourself, the water will make it much harder to stay warm, you'll lose energy, your immune system will get weaker, and-"

Sickly or not, Adagio could still cast a mean, and more importantly, commanding glare. "Sweetie? Give me the glass."

Despite a tingle shooting up her spine, the doctor for a day held strong. "No."

The glare intensified, then dropped entirely as Adagio started to smirk, sitting up a little straighter and letting out a low, sultry chuckle. "Ohh, I'm sorry, you really want to play doctor?" If Fluttershy didn't catch the double entendre, unbuttoning the shirt of her pajamas seemed to send a much clearer message as her nurse turned bright red and looked away. Gritting her teeth at the sudden flow of cold air to her exposed skin, she worked it into a smile, her eyes half-lidded. "Come on," she said with a breathy whisper, "I'm ready for my check-up..."

With just the faintest turn of her head, Fluttershy's eyes betrayed her, increasing the temperature in her face for every second they ate up the sight of Adagio's uncovered, faintly muscular stomach and midsection. Efforts to keep her gaze even that low were thwarted as she glanced up to see that the shirt was still being held just closed enough to cover most of the breasts, but still showed a little more skin than her purple jumpsuit normally did. Flashing back to the squirrel incident, Fluttershy realized that Adagio wasn't wearing a bra today.

Wait, the squirrel incident, that's it!

Slowly, looking exactly where she figured Adagio wanted her to, Fluttershy set the glass on the bedside fridge-table and tried to will her heart not to explode as she leaned in a little closer.

Grinning wickedly, Adagio slowly turned her upper body back and forth, lightly flicking the edges of her shirt outward in an almost matador-esque fashion. "Well? I'm sure that if nothing else, this'll take my mind off the pai-" Fluttershy's hand darted out toward her stomach, the fingertips quickly gliding over her exposed belly. "Hihihihii!!" Immediately jerking backward, Adagio drew her shirt shut as much as possible, her face flushed. "W-what the Hell are you doing?!"

Fluttershy was still blushing furiously as she tried not to think about her fingers on Adagio's bare flesh, but her smile was normal as she continued to hold out her hand in Adagio's direction. "If you're not worried about losing energy, you must have plenty to spare, right?" She playfully traced the air with her fingertips. "If so, you wouldn't need to worry about getting a little exercise."

"Y-you can't possibly be serio-" The hand again shot for her stomach and got to work, drawing another short, humiliating series of high-pitched giggles. "S-st-to-hop!!"

"Why," her tormentor asked with a completely innocent grin, "you're not really sick or tired or anything, are you?"

Adagio leaned back, arms protectively covering as much of her torso as possible, fear clear in her crimson face as she started to sweat. "I-I'm, this isn't, you can't just-..." Every defense she could think of just proved Fluttershy's point. Pathetic as it made her feel, she really was too weak to defend herself right now and just didn't have the stamina for this. She'd been lying in bed for hours, but once again, lamented her inability to flop down and sleep on command. Fluttershy seemed to sense that she'd already given up, because she picked up the glass again, but to her surprise, she didn't look even remotely smug or victorious, not a hair of fiendish delight or even ordinary amusement in the face of what could have been her long, uninterrupted revenge, if she'd so wished.

"I'm sorry if that hurt you at all," her caretaker said with an earnest, hopeful smile, "but if it did even a little bit, maybe I can help?"

There came another unidentified feeling, not quite guilt, not quite shame, but something Adagio couldn't place as she found herself wishing she hadn't resisted. She glanced around for the aspirin she'd been holding a minute ago. "I, can't find the..."

Fluttershy was already holding out another one, her friendly smile no weaker. "Can you lean back on the cushions, please?"

Taking a second to button up her shirt again (it was getting damn chilly!), Adagio took the pill, rested it on her tongue, and gingerly leaned back, part of her still wary of another tickle assault as she lightly sunk into the pillow pile.

Scooting a little closer, Fluttershy slowly, steadily raised the glass to her patient's mouth, noting just how delicate she looked in this situation. Fluttershy hadn't forgotten how fearsome this girl had been at the Battle, how she alone had shouted down Twilight's magic before Sunset stepped in, but now? She looked so frail, so fragile as she lightly sipped the offered water, Fluttershy was worried she'd shatter if she was so much as tapped the wrong way.

But, not in that way! She wasn't thinking about 'tapping' Adagio! Or anybody! Or anybody else tapping-! At least, not like-! No, not in any sense of the-

Something tapped her shoulder, eliciting a jump and a terrified squeak. When she came to her senses, the entire world was burning hot, though Adagio was just quietly staring at her in confusion, the empty glass in her hands (Did she manage the rest on her own with me holding it?) as she tilted her head.

"Sweetie? What's wrong?"

"I, ehm, uh, s-sawdust!"

Adagio blinked slowly. That's an incredibly strange way to say 'You're welcome.' Did she not hear me thank her for the drink? Well, she wasn't going to thank her again for something so degrading, she had to hold onto what little pride she still had in this post-magic stage of her life!

Unless, maybe, if Fluttershy asked nicely... Which, if she asked at all, she would ask nicely. It was Fluttershy.

But, it looked like she was too flustered for such a thing right now. Delicious as the display was, she wasn't sure the origin this time.

Wait, is feeding someone else without lip contact another one of those touchy-feely actions here? ...Is that why she wanted to do it?

She didn't have time to think about it right now, because donning her usual smirk, she had another kind of meal in front of her.

"Sawdust, Sweetie? Are you trying to say I'm lighting your fire?"

Having taken the time of Adagio's confused silence to try to corral her thoughts a little, Fluttershy at least got most of the blood in her toes back, but still looked at the world through a haze of warm air. "I-I, n-no, I, j-just, uh..." She glanced around the room, remembering that they were on the second floor and a window escape wasn't a good idea. Plus, Sonata still had her normal clothes. Most importantly, she still had a patient to take care of, that thought being the one that calmed her down the most as she took a deep breath. "...Do you guys really start fires in the house?"

Chuckling, Adagio shrugged. "Well, just that one time so far, it was kind of an emergency situation, but never hurts to be prepared. Sonata kept saying we should spring for a napalm launcher or something, but it was her promises to be careful that led to that particular storage hook."

"Storage h-Oh!" As the information clicked in her head, Fluttershy smiled. "I see, those are for storage, not decoration?"

Adagio looked earnestly confused. "Who uses things on hooks just for decoration?"

The completely rational part of her brain was nearly pulling its hair out with questions about the rugs and the hammocks -were those for storage too?- and how some of those rooms she saw were painted, along with the fact that people hung paintings and such on hooks all the time, but Fluttershy told it to hush. She saw an opportunity to learn a little more about the sirens, and darned if she wasn't going to take it! "Why do you store things on hooks? Is the closet full? Does this place not have an attic?" She glanced around somewhat nervously. "I-is the basement just really scary?"

Starting to smile, Adagio shook her head. "No to all. Have I ever told you that we used to live undersea?"

Fluttershy smiled too. "No, but I did get that impression from your ethereal aspects when they appeared."

"Yes, we-" Blink. "...You're knowledgeable in women's footwear and otherwordly entities now?"

Smiling shyly, Fluttershy rubbed one arm, a kind of blush Adagio didn't quite recognize coloring her cheeks. "No, but I used to read a lot of fantasy books and I still remember some of the terminology."

Adagio giggled quietly. "I see," she said as her smile seamlessly shifted to a smirk, absent-mindedly tracing a fingertip along her own neck, "couldn't get enough of those magical creatures, could you?"

And then Fluttershy was trapped. While she knew what Adagio was implying, she had been interested in some of the fictional (or so she thought, if demons and sirens turned out to be real) animals and sapients alike in those stories, from the massive Roc, to the powerful minotaurs, to the cursed wolf-people, to the mysterious sphinx. Legends of woodland nymphs particularly caught her eye, but she wasn't sure how to explain that to Adagio without a risk of it sounding dirty.

"Um, w-well, I mean, I, it was just a, they were-" A very emphatic hobby? A guilty pleasure? A borderline obsession for a little while? One more reason she was teased mercilessly in middle school? Something she had to stop enjoying publicly just to get a little peace, and had more or less outgrown since? She knew how to answer, her embarrassment fading entirely. "...Just a phase, I guess?" Adagio didn't quite look satisfied with that response, making an adorably inquisitive little face, complete with head-tilt.

Adagio was halfway through finding the exact words she wanted to use for the question when she really got to reading Fluttershy's expression, the little hint of loss mostly buried in one form of acceptance or another. This was at least a partly sensitive subject, and Adagio could appreciate just wanting some things left alone.

She shrugged. "Very well. To answer your earlier question, the nets on hooks were how we stored things in the sea, given that some things were obnoxiously buoyant and that we lacked abundant supplies of malleable material like wood with which to shape boxes and the like. Seaweed, however? Well-named, I assure you, most, uh," What word translates best? "neighborhoods couldn't weave the stuff into nets fast enough." She chuckled, nodding to some of the net-hooks hanging around her own room. "About three quarters of the netting you see around here, the three of us wove out of accumulated rope over the years."

Smiling again, Fluttershy tried not to let the way Adagio's nostalgic tone touched the edges of her heart show on her face, remembering how Sunset used to clam up when she got that kind of reaction to sharing happier memories. "I see. Thank you for telling me."

What might have been a giggle came out as a short, quiet series of coughs, but Adagio was grinning anyway. "The way you say that sometimes, you'd think I was a stingy information broker throwing you a rare bone, so to speak. What about you, Sweetie? Wha-" She coughed a little more, but it at least didn't hurt as much as some of the earlier fits.

Just the same, Fluttershy looked worried. "Are you feeling alright? Would you like another glass of saltwater?" She'd washed out the first one before bringing her water to take the aspirin with.

"N-*koffkoff*-no, I... Actually, what might my doctor recommend eating in my condition? I know what I said earlier, but I've spent most of today more tired than hungry, and the scales are tipping."

Smiling warmly, Fluttershy stood up. "I'll see if Aria or Sonata can help me find you something to eat, wait right here."

---

Closing Adagio's bedroom door behind her, Fluttershy contemplated searching for food in the nets hanging there in the hall, but thought better of it. Even the sirens had to know that food would go bad if just left somewhere long enough, and it was hard to tell what was in the nets at a glance, so by the time they meant to eat anything stored this way, they might forget which wall-hook-net they put it in. She headed downstairs, hearing Sonata's voice from a room nearby. Not for the first time, Fluttershy found herself unconsciously flattened against a wall.

"-ouldn't just pop in all 'heya, how ya doin', guys?' after Dagi caught us at the door like that. That would have been really awkward!"

Aria sounded amused. "But...?"

Sonata sounded confused. "What butt? Why are you thinking about butts at a time like this?"

There was a sound of a palm meeting the back of a head.

"Ow! Okay, okay, deets! I couldn't just drop in to see what they were up to, but I could listen outside the door!"

Fluttershy held both hands to her own mouth to muffle a squeak. They listened in on us again?!

...You hypocrite!

Ouch...

Fluttershy accepted this, more-so as she hadn't moved from her current spot. Which she should probably do now. Right n-

"Seriously? That's how we got fingered the first time."

"Yea, but this time I listened from further away! I must have been out of Dagi's Jehovah's Witness Detection range, because she didn't invite me in for a threesome or anything!"

Fluttershy paled, unseen.

"Uh-huh. So what'd you actually hear?"

"Something about something being harder when she was sick."

It sounded like Aria did a spit-take.

"Haha, maybe I should'a been standing closer to the door, huh?"

"N-Nata, they were doing that and you didn't even-?! ...Oh." Aria chuckled. "Got me. Very funny."

Fluttershy dared peek around the corner to see three long ponytails (or was it one ponytail and two pigtails? Rarity would have known.) hanging over the back of the couch, their owners facing away from her.

Sonata tilted her head, confused. "Got what? Doing what?"

Giggling, Aria lightly shoved her. "You're the worst, ya know that?"

Sonata retaliated with giggles and a light shove of her own. "You are!"

The two laughed together for a moment, the act warming Fluttershy's heart.

"Anyway, there's no way they were up to anything... strenuous."

Thank you, Aria!

"'Cuz, there's no way Squeaky has the guts to try something like that on a sick person."

Oh, I, uh... Well, I guess that's true too...

"Besides, if they were getting it on, we'd have heard it, Squeaky looks like a total screamer."

Fluttershy's jaw dropped. She had to duck around the corner again in case they noticed a sudden rise in the room's temperature.

"A squeaker, you mean?"

"I guess. So you didn't hear anything substantial?"

"Nah, I scurried away when I heard something about going to get saltwater."

"Smart move. For you, anyway."

"Thanks!"

There was a silence, but Aria shrugged and went on. "I heard Squeaky rooting through nets in the hallway, popped out to see what she was up to, but she was already going back into Dagi's room."

"So?"

"So I got closer to the door. Had to make sure she was actually helping Dagi get better, y'know?" Aria audibly smirked. "She was. Apparently, Squeaky thought to give her some'a that headache-fix candy, the kind that comes in the little bottle." She chuckled. "Squeaky wanted to help her take the pill or something and the way I heard it? Dagi totally got spanked. Wish I could'a gotten it on camera or something."

"Dr. Seuss gave her a spanking? I don't know if Dagi likes that kind of thing, but how would it help her get better?"

"Wha-? No, I mean, Squeaky forced her to-"

"Wait, was this one of those secret butt fun things? Because I know those are supposed to feel really-"

"Ugh, no, it, just, n-nevermind, Nata."

"Hey, you're the one that brought up butts in the first place!"

Aria was just about to dope slap her when the two were startled by a loud thud from behind them, whipping around in unison to see Fluttershy lying prone, a little cloud of steam rising up from her head. Sonata made a very obvious poker face, but Aria was sweating bullets. "Haha, Squeaky, h-hi, uh, h-how long were you standing there?

Guilt for her eavesdropping and the fact that her patient was still waiting on her, however patiently, had spurred Fluttershy to get up, shaking off the scathing embarrassment as best she could. "N-not very long..." She managed to make eye-contact, but it looked like she hadn't set either of them at ease. "Please, I-I need to find some food for Adagio, s-so, um..."

Sonata hopped up with a nervous, ear-to-ear grin. "And we'd just be super glad to help with that! And not stand outside the door! Which we totally didn't do! Right Aria?"

Her face was buried in a double facepalm. "Why...?"

---

Brushing newly messy hair out of her face, Fluttershy looked at the plate. "Is... I-is this really all?"

Aria shrugged. "Kinda looks like it. She'll be okay with that, though, right? She'll still live? 'Cuz, I can run to the store or something if-"

"No, no, there's no time, this'll have to do for now." Adagio had told her the day they met (for certain values of the word) that she never ate anything but dark energy before losing her gem, and what Fluttershy saw in the kitchen backed up her story. Sighing, she accepted what little they'd found and took the plate in both hands. "I'll bring this up to her, thank you for your hel-"

Sonata came sluggishly trudging around the corner, wearing a grocery bag where her skirt used to be. "Okay, I'm sure there's nothing tasty in the nets!"

Aria facepalmed. "Nata? Why are you wearing a bag?"

Placing her hands on her hips, Sonata held her head high. "I have misplaced my pants."

Aria chose to ignore the difference between skirts and pants in this exercise. "How'd ya do it this time?"

"Y'know that leaf-blower we found in a living room net about ten minutes ago? I found the off-switch, it's not blowing anymore!"

"Is it sucking things in now?"

"Maybe?"

"Ugh." She turned back to Fluttershy. "You need anything else?"

"Uhm, n-no, but..." Before going back to face Adagio, she wanted to clear her conscience. "I-I might have lied earlier, I was listening for a while." Both sirens paled, but she pressed on. "I shouldn't have eavesdropped on you like that, and I'm sorry. And, i-if you don't mind my saying so, um..." She took a deep breath, less sure how this would sound. "It's not nice to eavesdrop on anyone. I can tell I've made the two of you uncomfortable with my own wandering ears and I'm very sorry for that, but how do you think your friend would feel if she knew you had been doing the same thing to her?"

Now it was Aria and Sonata she pictured with lowered pony ears, given their expressions, though the image wasn't quite as endearing this time. Maybe she was finally building up a resistance to non-critter cuteness? She'd have to test with Wondercolt ears on someone to make sure. Would Adagio agree to wear them for her? Just for a minute?

Aria shamefully rubbed an arm. "I, yea, we'll... We talked to Sunset Shimmer about this once, Dagi apologized for secretly keeping those baby-monitor radio things in our rooms to keep tabs on us. That was just the sort of thing we said we wouldn't do to each other anymore, and here we are." She shook her head. "Anyway, yea, sorry, we'll do that, er, we'll quit doing that, I mean." Not willing to look Fluttershy in the eye, she nudged Sonata. "C'mon, let's go get some more grub in case she's hungry again later."

Feeling just as dirty, Sonata managed a tiny smile, gesturing to her waist. "Sure, I've already got the bag."

Aria slowly shook her head. "...No. Just, no." She grabbed Sonata by an arm and gently led her to what Fluttershy deeply hoped was the costume room to find something more appropriate for a supermarket.

Pleased though she was about the tiny change she'd apparently helped to cause (hopefully in herself, as well), Fluttershy took the plate up to Adagio's room, not looking forward to reporting that her nurse had failed her.

---

About twenty minutes after she'd gone, Fluttershy stepped through the door with a tan, grainy chunk and a glass of goldish liquid balanced on a plate in her hands. Her eyes were hidden behind messy hair, which would have drawn a smart remark from Adagio if not for the downcast expression on what she could see of her medic/caretaker/whatever job she was technically doing right now's face. "Sweetie? Everything alright?"

It sounded like she was about to cry. "I-I'm sorry..." Fluttershy managed to make eye-contact, her face shameful and contrite. "I, we looked, the three of us, but there was hardly anything in the kitchen." Setting the plate on what she was just going to think of as an ordinary bedside table now, she indicated what little could be scrounged up from the Dazzlings' nihilistic pantry and barren (though full-sized) refrigerator. Things didn't get much better when Sonata started looking through random nets for snacks to bring up, found a leaf blower, and couldn't find the off switch. "In terms of things that looked safe for you to eat, there was about half a loaf of what I'm pretty sure is garlic bread and most of a carton of orange juice." She managed a tiny, hopeful smile. "B-but, the second one might help a bit! I hear that experts say vitamin C doesn't really make much difference, but I know it makes me feel a little better."

Looking over the meager selection, Adagio chuckled. "Suppose this is an inevitable consequence of primarily going out to eat or ordering deliveries almost every day and night. Sorry if finding even that much was stressful for you, I'll try to keep the kitchen a little more stocked after today, alright?" She closed the statement with a little wink, which at least pulled Fluttershy the rest of the way out of her mini-depression.

Her heart-rate spiking, Fluttershy felt her face going as red as the little cross on her hat. "I-I, y-you don't have to- I mean, it's n-not like I'll be here again any time soon, s-so-"

Mischievousness was roused like a sleeping kraken, Adagio smiling with a wicked gleam in her eyes. "Are you sure? I could see you spending a lot of time here..." The only immediate reply was a squeak and a hundred-degree increase in the temperature of Fluttershy's face. The fluidity of her psychological pawing took a hit when she started coughing again, so she opted to bring this round to an early end. "If n-*koff!*-nothing else, this at least means you now know where I live. H-how do-" This coughing fit lasted a few seconds longer, but she still managed a decent smile. "...How do you like that? We're even."

Considering that Fluttershy got that cute, wide-eyed terror look, Adagio still counted this one as a win as she took a bite of the (thankfully very light) garlic bread. Crunchy! She couldn't remember if that was good or bad for bread, but ceased to care when she looked at the glass of orange juice. Sheepishly, her head lowered by about an inch as she glanced at Fluttershy. "Ehm, uh, f-for the sake of, I mean, just in case I start coughing again, um-"

Pushing old fears into the dark woods at the back of her mind, Fluttershy smiled. "Of course." She picked up the glass as Adagio hesitantly leaned back like before, gently raising it to waiting, yellow lips.

Taking a sip of orange juice for the first time within memory, Adagio immediately smiled. "Oooh, it's sweet! Tangy, too, or tingly, I don't remember the difference right now." She took another sip, smiling a little wider. "It's... it's like drinking sunlight, if that makes sense." She turned to Fluttershy, unaware that it was the bright, warm sincerity of her smile that earned her one in kind. "Thank you for this."

All but beaming, Fluttershy gave a quick nod. "I'm glad you like it!"

She didn't quite get her wish daydream random thought scenario of Adagio eating out of the palm of her hand, but holding the glass for her while she happily drank filled Fluttershy with a tingly little sense of delight. Kind of like drinking orange juice!

---

A bit later, the little meal was finished and two had gotten to talking about Monday morning, specifically Fluttershy's walk in the gym. Oddly, Adagio wasn't really poking her with that information all that much, just asking questions with her normal little smirk. "So, in imitating me, you feel just a little less afraid of the rest of the world? A little more lady-like, perhaps?"

Of course, this did nothing to prevent Fluttershy turning fluorescent pink as she sat on the (heart-shaped) bed next to her. "Th-that's the gist of it, yes..."

Adagio giggled, but her face was still just a little smug. "Hope my interruption didn't rain on that at all? Trust me when I say that keeping you from... expressing yourself-" she winked, "-is the last thing I want to do."

Fluttershy had to turn her head away and take a deep breath before her tongue would cooperate. "I, uh..." She gulped. "I-I might keep practicing, just for good measure...?"

Adagio nodded softly, her tone equally gentle. "Good. You don't have to worry about me coming in again, by the way, I picked up from the others that dropping in on you even once made waves with those friends of yours." She shrugged. "Just goes to show my caution has been well-placed."

Turning to look at her again, Fluttershy tilted her head a little. "Caution?"

Chuckling, Adagio brushed the tip of a finger under Fluttershy's chin, eliciting a shiver. "I've turned down more than a few opportunities to play with you during the day, Sweetie, because there were always witnesses at the time and I still don't want you to explode." Smirking, she leaned forward to let out a breathy whisper in her ear. "Not yet, anyw-" The line was cut off by another abrupt coughing fit, the first two breaths of which were directed into the side of Fluttershy's face, along with projectile spittle, making both rapidly jerk away. When it was done, Adagio looked mortified, hiding her face in both hands and groaning for more than just feeling sick.

Wiping her face clean, Fluttershy couldn't help giggling a little at what had just happened, but her patient seemed less amused.

"Sea spray," muttered Adagio, her face still covered and her voice muffled through her hands, "it wasn't enough that our voices were mutilated, but when I get a cold? It's mostly in the throat!"

Smiling warmly, Fluttershy put a hand on her shoulder. "I think your voice is lovely, no matter how congested it might get."

That won Adagio's full attention, making her lift her head up and stare wide-eyed. Fluttershy seemed to realize what she'd said, but to Adagio's surprise, she didn't revise, didn't re-word, didn't take back the sentiment, though she did turn red while waiting for a response. Adagio's mouth twitched, her mind wrapping itself into pretzels trying to articulate a coherent reply, her heart not doing much better as it threatened to burst from her chest despite what felt like a soft, thorny, rubbery vice squeezing it from every angle. Words, the manipulation of which was arguably her greatest talent, the means by which she formed her songs, shared thoughts and ideas, got others to see things her way, and even just messed with some heads, were failing her.

She managed something. "Could I get some more orange juice?"

Fluttershy blinked twice. "Eh? Uh, I, y-yes, okay." She stood up with the empty glass, moving toward the door.

Adagio didn't need years of experience in reading hurt, dejected expressions to know that she'd made another mistake. "Wait!" Thankfully, Fluttershy stopped. "I, I haven't heard, s-since before that night, you know, s-so it's, I mean..." She took a deep breath, opting for the simplest expression for her torrent of thoughts. "Thank you. Really."

Looking over her shoulder, Fluttershy smiled brightly. "Any time."

And then she went to fetch more orange juice, which left Adagio and the intensified workings of the fuzzy heart-vice at least a minute and a half to understand how tears and smiles could go together, even as she tried to wipe her own away. She knew Fluttershy wasn't talking about her singing voice, but somehow, it didn't make a difference to her.

---

Meanwhile, in Aisle 17 of the local grocery store, Sonata abruptly stopped pushing the cart and scowled at Aria. "Heeey, what do you mean smart move 'for me'?"

Facepalm on Aisle 17.

Author's Note:

Alternate title: Rhymeless, Tangy, Cheer-Fluid

I don't know if alternate titles are going to be a thing now. Along with long, rambly Author's Notes!

Nihilistic Pantry sounds like a good band name. New record for chapter length, doubly so as 14, 15, and 16 are all technically supposed to be one chapter, but this isn't Fallout: Equestria. Still, I feel like this big ol' chunk of text works better as its own singular chapter, even if it ends up being the longest in the story.

The more I think about it, the more this pairing reminds me of a more flirtatious, less outright insane version of FlutterCord. Is it just me? Because I've come up with a ridiculous number of ways to say someone was really, really embarrassed.

Also, I feel like most of the time, the sirens are written as actually being pretty normal in terms of home life. Maybe they are, but I delight in writing creatures of chaos at every opportunity, and they're supposed to (I think?) come from an undersea culture anyway, so having them be not just different, but alien feels right.

On an unrelated note, is now a good time to mention that back in season 1, the thing poison joke changed about Pony!Fluttershy was her voice?

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