• 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 17: Innuendo-Inducing Crunch Orbs

Thursday morning, Fluttershy sat in her usual spot without a hint of fear or anxiety, not even the normal kinds! Memories of chocolate coins and Adagio's account of the time her group met Cerberus, the massive, three-headed guard-puppy, had kept her smiling through most of yesterday, even after Adagio made a suggestive comment involving Fluttershy trying to use the chocolate coins to 'bribe' her way into her bedroom again! With the context that chocolate could be considered an aphrodisiac, of course. Anyway, she wasn't afraid, and even if her heart beat a little faster, she looked around with her head held high and a smile on her face for any sign of her favorite, fuzzy, huggable, fantasy-world girl!

Thinking about Adagio's efforts at hugging, however, brought a dampening realization; for all the time they'd spent together, Fluttershy still felt like she barely understood her. She was still puzzled as to how Adagio's mind worked, how she felt about things, what the world looked like through the eyes of a girl from a real fantasy-world. Well, Sunset Shimmer was technically a fantasy-world girl too, but she was pretty normal when you got to know her. Maybe the sirens were too?

The painted rooms.

Maybe it was just a one-time experiment in home decorating?

The nets on the walls.

They had a perfectly understandable reason for that!

The hammocks in the corners of the ceiling.

Well, okay, maybe I didn't actually get around to learning what those were for, but-

Sawdust.

...

Normal people did not want to make fires in their own homes bigger. So, no, maybe the sirens weren't normal, but Pinkie Pie was living proof that that was okay! Still, she'd have loved to get to know Adagio a little better. Realizing what those words meant in the context of her crush sent her head straight to the clouds like an overheated balloon. Then the bubble was burst by a heavenly voice.

"-tie? I didn't know you were the type to sit naked in public."

"W-W-WHAT?!" Fluttershy (already florescent pink at the time) immediately moved to cover herself with her arms, only to find that she was fully clothed. Blinking twice, she turned to see Adagio dressed in her dance outfit, sitting next to her with one hand over her mouth and snickering. Despite feeling like a dope for falling for that, she couldn't help joining in with giggles of her own. "You got me."

Reclining on the bench, Adagio grinned and gave her hair a haughty toss. "Don't I always? And, just in case you didn't hear it the third time, good morning, Sweetie."

'Third?' Fluttershy smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, again."

"It's fine," she said with a chuckle, "anything that gives me more opportunity to play with you is more than tolerable." Fluttershy had been blushing since Adagio arrived, but that didn't stop it from growing just a little brighter. Along with that happy, Magic of Friendship™ smile only her favorite chew toy newest friend seemed to have. She just kept staring like that, an unplaceable look in her eyes that sent electric eels through Adagio's stomach, drawing a more awkward grin than she'd intended to show. "So, uh-"

Fluttershy snapped awake, quickly reaching into her bag. "T-today I brought malt balls!"

She produced a little bag of what appeared to be chocolate orbs, presenting it to Adagio in that holding-it-up-in-both-hands way she did sometimes, as though offering tribute to some kind of deity. Appreciating such a sight directed exclusively at herself was almost a guilty pleasure for Adagio at this point, waiting until the last fraction of a second before silence became awkwardness or confusion to reply. She reached into the bag to seize one of the spheres between two fingers. "Is malt another word for chocolate?"

Giggling, Fluttershy shook her head. "No, it, well, see for yourself!" She popped a ball into her mouth, waiting in quiet anticipation as Adagio did the same. Oddly, she saw the bulge of the candy in Adagio's cheek, but she didn't seem to be chewing it at all.

Adagio looked back at her passively. "How long do these take to kick in? It definitely tastes like the coins, but nothing special so far." She would have made reference to yesterday's volley of comments, but that felt entirely too predictable.

"Uhm," the sweetest Rainboom offered with a little smile, "well, y-you're actually supposed to chew on these."

Raising an eyebrow, Adagio tested the malt ball with her tongue, finding it to be hard and dense. "It's a ball. Aren't you supposed to suck on balls?" She realized her word choice a second too late to prevent Fluttershy turning red, gasping, and immediately choking and coughing up bits of chocolate. She frowned, both because the choking reaction always looked painful (she could definitely sympathize), and because even if it had been deliberate, she hadn't worded the sentiment more elegantly than one of the freshmen boys she'd overheard a few times before. Adagio Dazzle was classier than that, dammit! "Sorry, Sweetie."

Clearing her windpipe, Fluttershy still managed to smile. "It's okay. If anything, I'm just too-" she stopped, Adagio was giving her a sad look that jogged her memory. "Oh! I mean..." She glanced away for a second, focusing her thoughts marginally easier when not looking someone in the eye. "I mean... That took me by surprise, but please don't worry about it."

Adagio grinned a little. Ordinarily, she might have commented on Fluttershy getting taken by surprise, but she felt like she was already pushing it this morning. Instead, she opted to bite down on the partly-melted chocolate ball in her mouth, immediately feeling a crunch and tasting a hint of a strange flavor. "They're... almost like cold sau-err, minty on the inside. It makes the chocolate seem maybe a few degrees cooler, which makes for an interesting little change of taste."

She stopped to look at Fluttershy, who was wearing that one particular grin she got whenever Adagio sampled food from her. Was it just the good, giving, chaos-killer spirit of generosity that made her happy to share things? Adagio wasn't sure, but it was a cute expression anyway, and one that meant Fluttershy wasn't annoyed with her at that moment. She reached into the bag, popped another into her mouth, bit down right away this time, and smiled. "They really make a satisfying crunch when broken, like someone's will breaking with the crack of a whip!"

Luckily, this one only made Fluttershy turn red and sputter for a few seconds. "W-whip?!"

Smirking a little, Adagio pantomimed swinging the tool in one hand. "For recreational purposes, of course. It is a little rough, though, not your cup of tea?" She just chuckled as Fluttershy rapidly shook her steaming little head. "Fine, fine, everyone has their own tastes..." The quick movement of her tongue to polish her lips may have helped send a subliminal message. "But if you ever change your mind, that door is always open."

Adagio could see that Fluttershy was beginning to perspire, but she still managed to look perfectly happy, even if she sounded a little nervous. "I-I see... Th-thank you for the invitation?"

As ever, Adagio just kept a relaxed smirk as she stood up from the bench. "Any time. See you arou-"

"Wait!"

She turned and was immediately startled by Fluttershy standing up with her, leaning in very, very close, and pecking her on the cheek.

Fluttershy could have sworn she heard the tiniest squeak, but couldn't be sure it didn't come from her own mouth. Now both of them were scarlet, Fluttershy starting to lose her nerve as Adagio stared back at her, wide-eyed.

"Y-you said," stuttered Fluttershy, fidgeting where she stood, "you said a k-k-kiss was okay, s-so-"

Adagio regained a confident stance and expression, though her face was still all aglow. "Right, it is!" Quickly, she grabbed Fluttershy's head pulled her in close to kiss her on the cheek, then immediately did it again on the other side. Her hands felt toasty until she let go. "See? No problem."

Fluttershy was a bright, blushing, babbling wreck, teetering back and forth on her feet like a dazed, smiling drunkard.

"Okay," Adagio muttered with a giggle even as her own cheeks continued to burn, "small problem. Why don't I just...?" Gently, she held Fluttershy by the shoulders and slooowly sat her back down on the bench, meeting no resistance. Leaving off with a kiss on the forehead felt like the obvious choice here, but she was definitely pushing her luck as it was. It looked like the girl was about to faint! Stepping back, she appreciated the sight just the same, unable to resist leaning forward a little to wink at her.

"See you around, Sweetie!"

She took it as a good sign that Fluttershy had already recovered enough to say something back, her big, silly grin unchanged. "S-see you soon..."

Chuckling, Adagio turned and walked away, keeping a leisurely pace until she was well out of Fluttershy's sight, then quickly and quietly (she had long ago mastered keeping her heels from clacking when she didn't want them to) moving the long way around the school to reach the gym door and slip into the building. Within a minute, she was on the upper floor of the library, the immediate area only dimly lit by thin streams of sunlight piercing the roof-window at this hour. She paced to the area right around where she first found Fluttershy cowering in fear, the day after she'd run away from her, after the admittedly vicious teasing by the statue in front of the school.

That was the only time, wasn't it? She sat on the floor by a bookshelf, obscured from the center of the room. She was likely trying to hide here, but I don't recall another instance in which she outright fled from me.

This morning felt kind of close, but she kept to Fluttershy's own rules. That seemed to work so far, at least better than pure trial and error to find out where the limits were. Speaking of limits, she touched a hand to the cheek Fluttershy had kissed. Again.

This is ridiculous, she thought while curling up where she sat and resting her forehead on her knees, I've proposed much more intimate actions to complete strangers, and just this has me all...

"Urgh!"

For a few seconds, her echoing exasperation was the only sound in the library, which swiftly returned to silence.

She'd had admirers before, and while the lover count was lower than some might have guessed, Adagio Dazzle had been kissed before. Most of all on her boots, by adoring fans, but she had known gestures of affection! That knowledge did nothing to dissuade the fuzzy heart-vice and all it's soft, horrific squeeziness, nestled smugly in her chest even now. Sitting where she was in the library, Adagio at least had plenty of time to calm down and get her head on straight before facing the day.

Maybe it's because Fluttershy isn't just another groupie? She'd be adorable jumping up and down squealing my name from the front rows, but she's adorable doing pretty much anything else, too.

Fluttershy was different, because without a doubt, she liked Adagio for more than her musical talents. Part of which she helped to destroy. The fact that it wasn't all her made it easy not to bear a personal grudge, along with that whole powerless-to-do-anything-about-it, no-point-even-if-they did bit. Something in all of that, she was sure, had to explain why her kisses got Adagio's heart pumping as though she were doing something much more involving, something Fluttershy hadn't yet signaled that she wasn't afraid to do. She surely wasn't afraid of kisses, at least not on the cheek, because she hadn't run away this time.

Which was good! She'd been tormenting the girl for weeks and she still kept showing up at the same spot, as though nothing in the world was wrong. Adagio herself could barely imagine willingly returning to be humiliated day after day, but she knew there was a little more to their situation than that. Maybe because she only (deliberately) flustered her in private, away from witnesses that would point and laugh at her?

How did it start? Adagio found the girl alone one morning, had a short, silly misunderstanding, didn't bother with introductions (poor manners in hindsight, but she'd since remedied this), had a little fun at her expense, and walked away. The next time they met, Fluttershy offered her the mint-hook on her own.

Perhaps theirs was a symbiotic relationship, Adagio getting a kick out of the expressions Fluttershy made when she was teased, Fluttershy getting whatever feeling came with that I-just-shared-something face she made whenever Adagio sampled her wares?

That doesn't quite cover it either...

She heard Fluttershy's voice in her head.

"If that's the case, what do we have?"

She answered with 'friendship,' but this wasn't like what she had with Aria and Sonata, nor, she was sure, what Fluttershy had with her own friends. Maybe because none of those relationships were secret? That surely had an effect. That in mind, this morning went well! Fluttershy made the shocked, choking reaction, but she didn't get angry about it, and more importantly, she didn't run away. She still wished she knew a way to tell if something she was about to say went too far or not, but not even the gems could have granted her that. Adagio sighed.

Guess there's nothing for it. Teachers should be coming into the building here soon, may as well start the game.

There was maybe a twenty minute period every weekday in which the school staff would be preparing themselves for the day before students flooded in and the entire building emitted that noise that-bell, it was called the 'bell'. If that obnoxious noise constituted a bell ringing, she liked to think she could still pass for an opera singer. Anyway, since the first time she'd decided to sneak around the school to privately spite Luna, Adagio developed a little game of slinking through the lesser-lit areas, around corners, on ceilings (why nobody ever thought to look up in this world, she'd never know), and right behind people until it was time to start classes. Knowing where all the cameras were had made things a little too easy, so she started to swipe random items unseen and replace them somewhere nearby. Score was determined by reactions of those she was toying with.

Scratching their head was worth one point.

Doing a double-take was worth two points.

Muttering in confusion was worth three points.

Looking around as though they thought the school was haunted was worth four points.

And of course, swearing incoherently was worth five points.

She got twenty-three points today! Coach Iron Will could really stand to control his temper.

---

The first class period of the day was never much fun. The material was dull and the only person that would even talk to Adagio was Flash Sentry, who, while a handsome fellow, was likely the dullest, driest, least entertaining person in this school. At least Mr. Doodle got annoyed when she called him by name or offered tips regarding his wig. That she was seated right next to Twilight Sparkle's boy-toy felt like an incredibly lucky break her first day here, but now she understood it to be some form of cosmic mockery. He hadn't even turned his head when she was in nothing but a bathrobe! Still, in the last ten minutes of class, when the teacher entirely stopped giving a damn and left everyone to do busywork until the bell rang, she had nothing better to do than try again, leaning over a little to whisper to him.

"Good morning, Flash."

As usual, he paused in his classwork and looked at her with an ordinary smile. "Good morning, Adagio."

"You know," she said with just a mildly suggestive tone, "it occurs to me, in the quiet part of class, hardly anyone is paying attention to anything but what they're doing."

"That they are, it's a good time to focus on getting work done."

It was true, nobody so much as turned their head for anything quieter than a book falling off a desk or something, all writing or reading or texting or holding their own quiet conversations. Adagio propped her head up on one arm, her eyes half-lidded. "That in mind, it seems to me that someone could do all kinds of things unnoticed if they were quiet, maybe even under a couple of desks?"

"I guess so," he said without a hint of comprehension.

Adagio just held her playful smirk, as though the boy weren't denser than a diamond mine. "If they were really careful, they might even be able to do something during lecture, don't you think?"

He glanced away as though seriously contemplating the validity of the idea. "Yea, I guess."

Her expression unchanged, she looked Flash dead in the eye, carefully scanning his face for the slightest twitch or muscle movement to indicate that he was getting the message. None. Same as ever. Letting out a silent sigh, she lightly shook her head. "That's all I wanted to say."

Flash nodded, getting right back to work. "Okay."

Adagio took solace in the fact that if Twilight Sparkle ever wanted to bed this boy, she'd likely have to either tie him to one and throw herself at him, or be very, very patient. Like Fluttershy! As much as Adagio liked to tease her for having stray thoughts, she was always a good girl, always kind and gentle with Adagio no matter what she'd done to her just minutes before, always at least trying to offer a peaceful smile, always a big, soft pillow to lean on without mocking those leaning on her for being weak, all without even charging for her time! She was very patient, which was something Adagio really needed to pay her back for.

Ooh, idea. Maybe I could...?

Well, they had talked about being patient before, right? How she -what was it?- acted that way because someone had to? Because she wanted to be an example? Adagio grinned in her usual fashion, unaware of the chills this sent through some of her classmates. If Fluttershy wanted to change the world by being a good example, maybe it was time that actually started working out for her...

---

Slowly pacing through the hallway, Adagio kept an eye out for chances to be patient, slowly scanning everything in front of her with a little smile playing on her features. Nothing was really jumping out at her, but that was fine. She would just have to be patient! It was possible her efforts were already being noticed, the way she was getting stared at more than usual. And not just from behind! She couldn't help chuckling at the thought, her grin only getting wider as some students rapidly turned their heads to focus on anything but her.

Go ahead and stare, kiddies, you'll only be left wanting more.

She never needed to turn around to know some people were happier than others to watch her go, even if her hair kept them from seeing much at that angle anyway. That she appeared in this world with a means of constant teasing attached to her head, while aggravating to deal with itself for the first week or three, had proven a fun blessing. Her hair had turned out to be like wearing a micro mini-skirt over her behind at all times, just barely concealing her enough that people might not have realized right away that the best they could hope for was to catch sight of her curves through her pants or jumpsuit anyway. It was a built-in teasing double-whammy, like Rainbow Dash wearing shorts under her skirt, thus denying the possibility of gratification for wandering eyes.

Unless those shorts are counted as underwear. In that case, is it modesty or exhibitionism? I feel like I should know this...

Maybe Fluttershy could tell her? Now there was a fun thought, the mental image of how she might react to the question drawing a low chuckle from Adagio as she prowled the hall on the way to her next class. That might have been an unusual action, judging by the people turning away, covering their ears, or whispering silent prayers as she passed them by.

---

With history class ended, Adagio had an idea. She was the first one to the door, so she grabbed the handle, pulled it open, and stepped aside, holding it so that everyone else could pass through. The other students, Trixie in particular, stopped and stared as though the doorway had suddenly become a sea serpent's mouth.

"Please," Adagio purred while gesturing to the door, a friendly smile on her face, "after you."

A few people looked like they were considering window escapes, but the room was on the second floor. Hesitantly, a few people inched toward the door, but most of them were held back by considerably more worried friends.

Adagio didn't let her annoyance show on her face.

Oh, for goodness sake, you'd think they couldn't trust me to hold a door open for them! It's not like I had time to rig a trap or something, and they'd have had to see me do it anyway.

She didn't say anything about it, though, just kept waiting. Patiently. It helped that she honestly didn't care if she was late to her next class, or that she might have even favored such a thing.

"Welp," announced crazy old Ms. Inkwell, putting on a football helmet, "what're we waitin' fer?" She drew a grappling hook from a drawer in her desk, spun it in the air a few times,

THUNK!

hooked it into a ceiling tile, "THE WAY IS OPEN!!" and swung through the doorway, gone for parts unknown.

Adagio, not blinking through any of that, maintained her After You pose, patiently waiting for everyone else to leave too. That almost everyone was still looking at her in surprise irritated her considerably, but her patience was rewarded (Yay!) when the braver among those present slowly followed Inkwell's example, albeit without aid from a grappling hook. She didn't say a word, didn't move a muscle as everyone filed out, though Trixie stopped at the doorway.

"You're not fooling anyone, you know," she said with a challenging smirk, "everyone knows what you're really like and no amount of open doors is gonna change that."

Adagio just smiled in her usual way. "Thank you so much for believing in me, Silver."

Trixie sputtered. "Wha-?! I-I just said-! Trixie does not believe in you at all, and she has told you before to address her as-" there came the usual drama club extended-arm gesture, "-the Great and Powerful Trrrrrixie!"

"I'm sorry, Silver," Adagio said while brushing her hair away from one ear, "I didn't quite catch that, could you run it by me again?"

The amateur magician scowled. "Trixie said-" she leaned in a little closer, Adagio startling her by quickly leaning closer at the same time, their noses barely an inch apart as Trixie tinted red. "Eh, uh, I, uh-"

Fixing her with a half-lidded stare, Adagio made sure every syllable dripped with passion. "What's the matter? Do I make you uncomfortable, dear?"

"N-n-no," she replied through chattering teeth, her eyes wide and not entirely fearful, "T-Trixie is not even the t-tiniest bit uncomfortable, no matter how c-close someone stands to her," her voice dropped to a whisper, "nearly breathing on her neck, t-temptingly soft hair so close she could-" She stopped, looking around to see students out in the hall waiting to get into the classroom she and Adagio were blocking entry to with their little episode. They were looking at Trixie and whispering to each other. Staring. Judging.

Trixie drew a smoke-bomb from her shirt and detonated it immediately. Adagio just walked out into the hall through the lilac-scented smoke, appreciating the ambient effect Trixie had given her before smirking, striking a sultry pose, and beginning the walk to her next class.

When the smoke cleared, Pinkie Pie gasped from the hallway. "She's gone!!" Then she peeked around a corner. "No, wait, there she is."

---

By the time she'd finished playing with Trixie (for now), the halls were nearly empty and class was due to start any minute. This did nothing to increase Adagio's pace, as it was a class she was even less enthusiastic about than most. The calculations were fine and all, but it was her classmates that bothered her. Specifically, one classmate, one of few students that made a point of greeting her at almost every opportunity, and a rarer one still in being perhaps the only one in the building she really didn't want to talk to:

Sunset Shimmer.

It wasn't that Sunset didn't continue to be nice girl when her friends weren't watching, but if anything, maybe that was the problem. She'd give Adagio a friendly smile, ask how she was doing that day, and Adagio would answer not unlike Flash Sentry did when she asked him similar questions. It wouldn't be surprising if Flash was just hoping she'd leave him alone, too.

Speaking of, I probably should have tried the door thing first period.

People in this realm, ordinary beings, were slow to accept change, it seemed. New and unusual were treated with fear and suspicion, no matter their intentions. Inkwell's oddities didn't seem to bother anyone, presumably because they were just used to her doing that kind of thing, but when someone else comes along and draws out the entire floor-plan of an undersea city on the chalk-board, it's 'strange' and 'freaky!'

"And together, we will never be afraid of the dark," eh, Twilight Sparkle? I wish you could see your false-faced followers now. Bet Flash would have gone through the door no problem, setting a precedent for the others right away instead of that long, awkward, suspicious waiting period.

It was while trying to remember if she had any other classes with Flash that day that Adagio saw something out of the corner of her eye. Something interesting. She stopped, turning to look into the doorway wide-eyed.

Is that a...? In a school? Oh, my...

She could see the instructor writing notes on the board, so this was almost certainly a formal class. Intrigued, she found herself grinning with delight, walking in to investigate...

---

Vice Principal Luna sat at the desk in her office, glaring at the trouble-maker sitting across from her. "Look," she said in a stern tone, "I have told you countless times, and I will tell you as many more as is necessary that-" Sighing, she started rubbing her temples. "Didn't we establish a rule? A very simple one? Unless it is a matter of life and death; the locker room, by which I mean the girls' locker room? Fine. The restroom? Acceptable. Anywhere else? No!"

Adagio raised an index finger to object. "But-"

"No, you cannot disrobe anywhere else!!"

Adagio threw her arms out in exasperated fashion. "It was a sex-ed class!"

"Yes," replied Luna in irritated tones, "one you were not scheduled to be in, Miss Dazzle."

The algebra skipper innocently touched a fingertip to her lower lip. "I wasn't? All these doors and halls look so much alike, I still get so hopelessly confused..." Luna's glare said she wasn't buying it. Plan B! "Anyway, I was just trying to help with the day's lesson. You can't tell me that enriching the education of my fellow students is-"

"The lessons are well-decided in advance, Miss Dazzle, and they do not need your-" she made sure to use mocking air-quotes, "-'expert opinion' on the matter." Truly, it was no mystery to Luna why her sister had, on her hands and knees, delegated dealing with Adagio to her.

Utterly ignoring the sarcasm, Adagio looked appalled. "You would deprive eager young minds of an expert's opinion?!"

"Wha-?! I just said-"

She folded her arms, turning away. "I quite frankly am shocked and disgusted, madame! Aren't you supposed to be an educator?"

"No," growled Luna, "I am the one who handles student discipline, which you are severely lacking." The worst part had to be that she couldn't even say the word 'detention' around this girl. There were legal reasons why they couldn't just lock her in a room by herself again and no one deserved to be trapped in detention with Adagio Dazzle. A few former delinquents may have since cleaned up their act, but poor Ms. Cheerilee nearly quit that day.

Still not looking at her, Adagio was silent for a moment. Then she slowly turned her head, a hint of a smirk on her features. "You're offering to discipline me?"

Luna hoped her scowl was more prominent than her blush. "We have also discussed this many times, and you know that that is not what I-"

Adagio's coquettish smile widened as she shifted in her seat, wiggling her hips. "Perhaps we could kill two birds with one stone here, the two of us could head back to the classroom and instruct on-"

"Corporal punishment is not employed in the modern school system!"

Her grin was nothing short of lewd now. "Is it still 'punishment' if I ask for more? You might even be able to make me beg if-"

Luna pulled at her own hair and screamed.

"...So it's a 'maybe,' then?"

---

Stepping out of Luna's office, Adagio looked down at the note she'd been given and sighed.

Dear Ms. Zecora,

The usual.

-Luna

Long story short, Adagio was off to see the counselor again, the one she'd have to give the note to so that Luna would know she got it when it was passed back to her later. Certainly, neither Adagio nor her companions were truly obligated to obey any orders they were given, but causing trouble without at least the justification that they didn't mean to wasn't going to win them any friends with which to find the so-called magic that came with it. Besides, if they got thrown out, they'd be back to the long, boring days of not feeling compelled to do anything. That would suck, quoth the Aria.

Giggling a little to herself as she headed to Zecora's office (though she preferred the term 'hut,' thinking it to sound friendlier), she took solace in the fact that at the very least, the woman wasn't unpleasant to talk to, having a contagious appreciation for spontaneous poetry. Their first meeting had certainly been entertaining, once Adagio was offered the chance to introduce herself to the woman that spoke in rhyme.

"Hello there, I'm Purple Orange!" She tugged at her own hair with one hand and a leg of her jumpsuit with the other. "As you can see, I'm named after my color scheme, but if you like, you can just call me Violet Tangerine!"

After a short silence, Zecora had laughed for a solid minute.

Knocking on the only door in the building with a dream-catcher hanging from it, Adagio heard Zecora's muffled voice.

"Greetings, friend, I've just made tea! Please come in and sit with me!"

With a little grin and a carefree shrug, Adagio stepped in, finding the circular room to be roughly what she remembered from last time. It wasn't too outrageous, all things considered, a few woven rugs here and there, some arrangements of beads hanging from things, tiki masks on some of the walls, but nothing terribly strange. Sitting in the center of the room by a little, wooden table with a steaming kettle and a few cups on a particularly soft, plush rug was the only person in the school Celestia apparently tolerated wearing robes. She was a grey woman with what Adagio interpreted to be darker grey, stripe-like tattoos over most of her body, though the majority of her skin was concealed by baggy, brown robes. It gave her a very relaxed kind of look, along with the long, white hair that hung from her head in wild, though not necessarily messy tendrils. She waved Adagio over to join her, accepting the offered note as Adagio was seated.

Zecora sighed through a knowing smile. "You'd not be here as often if Luna you did not offend. May I ask the case this time?"

Adagio smirked a little. "She didn't like a joke of mine."

"Did it cross a moral line?"

"I would say that it was fine."

"But Luna clearly disagreed?"

"Hence giving that note to me."

Not having lost her smile, Zecora chuckled. "Suppose we should get started, then. What trouble brings you to my den?"

Adagio formed her usual, laid-back little smirk. "No trouble at all, I'm perfectly fine, folks just don't like this humor of mine."

"There's not a thing you would discuss, here with just the two of us?"

Eyeing the kettle, Adagio grinned a little wider. "I wouldn't mind a spot of tea, making these brews still eludes me."

Zecora was happy to oblige, but she couldn't help the corners of her mouth dropping by just a millimeter. Still, maybe if the Dazzlings knew how to brew their own calming tea, they wouldn't be sent to her quite as often. "If the correct herbs you've got, you begin with a boiling pot..."

---

As it came time for Adagio to return to classes, Zecora waited until the door was fully shut to let her smile fall away. She didn't know if Luna expected more from her at this point, but she wished she could report with progress for once.

"I'm fine."

'I'm fine,' she'd said. How many times had Zecora heard those words from those who did not mean them? She had spoken to the individual Dazzlings many times, and of all of them, she was sure that the ringleader was the most troubled. Little Sonata would speak her mind, Aria had once come to cry, but Adagio was a book closed tight, her feelings never coming to light. Zecora had an idea, finding a pen with which to leave it on the note she'd return to Luna later.

"If she cannot bare her soul to me," she said under her breath, "perhaps with this, she may be free..."

---

Fourth period was uneventful, but Adagio tried the door thing again when it was over. Results were consistent with her first attempt, but without a Trixie to play with at the end of it. Then came time for lunch, which brought the realization that waiting in the line to pick something up would be a great way to demonstrate her patience! So while Octavia was taking her time deciding whether to go with mashed potatoes or celery, Adagio just quietly stood behind her, not saying a word. She didn't just reach past her to take something, didn't make a comment to speed things along, didn't try to convince her that one choice or the other would be better for her figure, didn't mention that she didn't particularly mind standing behind Octavia anyway and was sure that none of the boys in this school did either, just stood there with a smile.

After about a minute, Octavia seemed to sense that she was being watched, unconsciously turned her head, caught sight of Adagio, shrieked, and ran away, never having procured mashed potatoes or celery. Perhaps she was just on a diet?

Yes, tell yourself that. The look on your face had nothing to do with it.

Containing an irritated sigh, Adagio added a biscuit to her tray and headed to her usual table, reflecting on unfairness regarding reactions to her smiles as opposed to almost anyone else's. She had tested this in a mirror countless times, and came to the conclusion that her own grins were fine! She showed just enough of her teeth at the right times and even added an alluring, come-hither look with her eyes, not outright promising mind-blowing ecstasy for any who would dare come close enough to claim it, but certainly flirting with the idea. Sure, some people found that a little intimidating, but the point of smiling at people was to make them want to come to you, wasn't it? Something must have been wrong with these people that what she offered had the exact opposite effect.

Well, at least Octavia's scared face was cute.

Aria chuckled at her as she took her seat. "What took you, Adagio? Had to give someone a heart attack first?"

"Something like that. What's new with you two?"

Sonata shrugged. "Nothing much." Then she smiled. "Heard you got in trouble with the VeePee again, what'd ya do?"

Adagio smirked a little. "Just indulged a little scientific curiosity and tried to help some of my peers do the same. Honestly, you would think that kind of thing would be encouraged in a school." With her two oldest friends giggling, she smiled a little wider. "Speaking of, you two never did tell me how that little chat went, the one that happened when I wasn't around?"

Aria shrugged, folding her arms. "Not our fault you got busted again."

"True, but I'd still like to hear what you talked about."

"Well," Sonata offered, tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth as she searched her memory, "Sunset came asking about you poking Dr. Seuss and asked if it was okay that they all come over and talk to us for a bit. They wanted to know if it was just a one-time thing or not, I think."

"And we knew," added Aria with just a hint of apprehension, "that if we said 'no' that they'd get all 'ooh, what have you got to hide?' on us and do that self-righteous stalking thing until they knew what they wanted to know, that it'd all balloon into some big, irritating incident that left us worse off and them getting off scot-freakin'-free no matter what they did in the process."

It was possible Aria was still bitter about Trixie and the Illusions suffering no punishment whatsoever for their part in the Battle of the Bands. Nor Photo Finish and her group. Nor anyone else that broke rules. Presumably, they all pleaded direct mind-control to the only two actual victims of such magic; Luna and Celestia, who were no doubt inclined to believe it.

"So we covered for you," Aria said with a little smile, "and luckily, all we really had to say was the truth."

Adagio smiled at them earnestly. "Thank you both, and I'm sorry if that situation worried you."

Aria grinned cockily, but there was a tinge of red to her cheeks. "Ahh, no problem, we had it all under control."

"Yea," offered Sonata, "and it's about time we started paying you back for all the trouble we used to cause!"

"Haha, yea," added Aria, whose grin grew just a little rigid, "thanks, Sona-"

"I mean, I remember a few times you were actually pulling your hair out and-"

"Okay, she gets it, now-"

"Come to think of it, we kinda still cause you trouble sometimes-"

"Quiet time, please."

"-like when we went to the zoo and Aria fell into the-"

"Sonata!!"

Adagio just chuckled, long since having let go of the many, many, many times her then-minions had gotten on her nerves, as it was clear they'd forgiven everything she'd dragged them through as well. "Just the same, thank you for taking care of me." She and Aria sealed the notion with a fist-bump.

Sonata frowned a little. "Speaking of that, um..." She nudged Aria, who also stopped smiling.

"Eh, um... Tiny confession? We kinda listened in on you and Squeaky."

Adagio's good mood was crushed, smothered by a blanket of cold dread. "What?"

Sonata lowered her head in puppy-eyed contrition. "We're sorry, we were just worried that, y'know, she was one of them, how could we trust her to make sure you got better?"

"What did-" Adagio stopped herself, she had to pick the words a little differently if she didn't want to signal that she had something to hide. She took a deep breath that did nothing to sooth her friends. "Your caution is perfectly understandable. How long were you listening?"

"N-not long," Aria admitted with just a tinge of worry, "all I really heard was the part where she made you take your medicine."

Adagio tinted pink, annoyance equally vibrant. "Word from the wise? Never fight your nurse." She grinned a little as both of them let out tiny giggles. "Anything else?"

Sonata shook her head. "No, but we're still sorry for doing that. I know it would'a made Dr. Seuss nervous if we just stood there watching her, but we shouldn't have spied on you."

They don't know anything they shouldn't. Good. Adagio smiled normally. "It's alright." Her nosy, but fortunately ignorant caretakers smiled back. Now to change the subject. She winked at Sonata. "Good choice in her uniform, by the way, I don't know if she was working her legs on purpose, but the heels were a perfect fit."

It was always nice when Sonata could be proud of herself. "Haha, thanks!" She tugged at the collar of her shirt. "This clothing stuff confused the bejeezus outta me when we first got here, but I feel like I've figured it all out now! I even know what to do with that funky underwear with the long socks and lacy belts!"

Adagio lit up. "Do tell!"

Aria darkened with a blush. "Uh, h-hey, speakin' of weird crap, you got sent to the counselor's office again, right?"

Chuckling, Adagio nodded. "Yes, she showed me how to make tea. If we're lucky, I'll remember all of the instructions by the time we get home."

Sonata giggled. "Did she say how it was done in rhyme? With stirring and a twist of lime?"

"No limes here, I don't believe, just hot water and leaves."

Aria was infected too, smiling a little. "Did she say to use a certain pot, or are we good with what we've got?"

"If you need just the right pot for tea, she didn't say as much to me."

"Can it be brewed in just a bowl?"

"Or would you have to pour it down a hole?"

"I'm sure it can be brewed in bowls without pouring things down holes."

All three of them were grinning like dolts now.

"Can you brew it on a boat?"

"Can you brew it with a goat?"

"I'd not want to brew it on a boat, let alone when near a goat!"

"What about while on a train?"

"Maybe even on a plane!"

"On locomotives or on planes, I would just as soon abstain."

"Why is that? What do you fear?"

"Can you not brew it far or near?"

"Very simply put, my dears? I've never even brewed it here!"

There was a pause, then the three of them laughed, loud and long, to the fear and worry of most of the cafeteria. The Dazzlings didn't notice, but six girls at one table collectively smiled at them.

Author's Note:

I picture Jedi Master Zecora as mostly looking like a humanized version of her Nightmare Night outfit, but with fewer spiders.

Two out of three Dazzlings are dangerously genre savvy. Three out of three Dazzlings can be very silly.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, it happened again, but I'm afraid I can't write 15k or so words worth of story per week, so the rest of Adagio's day will hopefully be done by next Saturday. Sorry if you were hoping for the whole thing at once. :fluttershysad:

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