• 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 56: Long-Overdue Do-Over

"Okay, so," Aria summed up, following a long talk that only got a little huggy, and tearful, and embarrassing, Adagio supervised, "our magic isn't gone, just like, sleeping, we're gonna try to wake it up with heavy metal because that's probably the best vocal range we can reach right now outside of literally singing people to sleep, and if it works, we should get our full singing voices back?"

Fluttershy nodded.

"And," asked Sonata, her face hopeful, "if that works, we can finally bury all this hard feelings stuff between the three of us and the six of you, drop the rest of CHS like a sack of bricks, and not have to care anymore what anybody thinks of us, whether they like us for us or not, because no matter what, we'll be friends with you guys?"

"H-hopefully, yes!"

Following a short silence, Aria shrugged. "So, what do we do first?"

Adagio grinned.

---

Ecstatic, Rainbow pumped a fist in the air. "I freakin' love this plan!!"

The other five girls giggled, though Rarity wore a look of thinly-veiled consternation. "Then... metal, hm? I don't believe any of us have ever performed such a piece."

"We'd never really performed anything until just a couple weeks before the Battle of the Bands," Applejack noted, "but we pulled all that off fine, didn't we?"

"Totally," chirped Pinkie, "we'll rock out whatever they give us, like-" she tossed a handful of confetti into the air, "-magic!"

Sunset in particular looked hopeful. "Did Adagio say when she might have a song ready?"

Fluttershy smiled. "Possibly some time this week."

Though they agreed that she shouldn't stay up all night to get it done. Even if it was for something positive, Fluttershy didn't like the idea of Adagio not getting enough rest again, something she was thankful Aria and Sonata had backed her up on. All of them were looking forward to this, but they convinced Adagio not to force herself to finish the song, and if they saw the dark rings under her eyes making a comeback, all three of them (even Aria!) would make very sad, heart-wrenching faces at her. She was too touched by their concern to tease them for such a threat, but they'd gotten her to promise to take her time with the song by the time the hugging stopped.

Sunset nodded. "Has anyone asked Luna and Celestia about holding a new showcase yet?"

---

Early Monday, Sunset and Fluttershy found themselves in front of Luna and Celestia in the latter's office, which always made Sunset just a little antsy. Luckily, she knew all the messy stuff from before was behind them now, because the look on Celestia's face was more concerned than condemning.

"Hm... An actual musical showcase to make up for the one that came before? I'm not against it, but you said this was the Dazzlings' idea?"

"Um... Yes?"

"I ask because I recall you specifically mentioning to keep them out of Music class at all costs back when they first returned, their... condition being no secret to most of us here."

Sunset smiled hopefully. "That's actually kind of what this is about. In short, letting them sing in front of a crowd might be all they need to go back to how they were, singing-wise," she winked in what she dearly hoped was a playful and charming fashion, "just no mind-control power this time."

Arms crossed and her head tilted, Luna frowned. "Would that not be greatly difficult precisely because of their predicament?"

"Yes," answered Fluttershy, "but I think we found something for them. It took some trial and error, but all three agreed that they don't sound too bad when doing the vocals for heavy metal."

There was a pause.

Luna raised an eyebrow. "The Dazzlings, whose entire motif was based in slow, sensual pop rhythm to draw cheers from their audience, intend to elicit the same reaction through rough, aggressive metal?"

"Uh-huh."

And another.

Shrugging, Luna turned to her sister. "Well, provided there is no magical foul play, I see no reason we should object."

"Indeed," said Celestia with a wry grin, "no reason at all." Her expression turned a little more serious as she looked to Sunset. "I mean, is there? I don't understand exactly what these forces do or how they work, but if it was because of magic that the sirens could sing, can't sing now, and are supposed to be able to sing again...?"

"Completely different magic," Sunset answered quickly, "just the innocent, non-hypnotic kind they're kinda supposed to have anyway, totally harmless."

"Ah. Well," Celestia offered with a smile, "if that's all under control, I think we can have things in order in a day or so and announce the showcase a little later this week. Would the Friday after next provide enough time for the Dazzlings to put something together?"

Sunset beamed. "I'll have to check with them to be sure, but that should be enough time, thank you very much!"

Equally happy and relieved, Fluttershy smiled too.

I don't know why, but I thought we'd have to do some kind of difficult task or overcome some obstacle to get this approved. I'm glad Luna and Celestia are as understanding now as they were for Sunset.

---

Lunchtime in CHS started with something of a brief pause that day, because while it only lasted about half a minute, many stopped to look as Adagio and Fluttershy walked into the cafeteria hand-in-hand. Neither responded to the attention with more than a blush, proceeding as normal to the table at which Aria, Sonata, and Trixie were waiting. Having talked a little about it the previous day, Fluttershy and the sirens agreed that a big, very public event like the upcoming showcase was considerably difficult to hide from even a single person and, feeling that she most likely trustworthy by this point anyway, decided to quietly break the news to Trixie a little early.

"...Wow. I stop watching you for a while and you really do start scheming stuff!"

Adagio blinked, offering a slightly sheepish smile. "Y-yes, but, it's not something evil, right?"

"Not gonna lie," Sonata whispered to Fluttershy, "I thought Trixie'd go all 'YOU DID WHAT?!' and everyone in school would know right then."

Fluttershy giggled, but made a shushing motion.

"More importantly," Aria said very pointedly in Trixie's direction, "we don't have to worry about anyone knowing anything before we're ready to tell them, right?" She shrugged when Adagio gave her a slightly chiding look, but Trixie caught the exchange and smiled.

"Worry not, Trixie knows to approach this issue with utmost discretion!" She felt a warm little tingle at the sight of Adagio's relieved, grateful smile, but hearing about the plan for the showcase made her wonder. "So, you said you three were going to play a song and the Rainbooms will be providing the instrumentation? Is it a favor for Fluttershy, or...?"

Fluttershy responded immediately. "Pinkie Promise not to tell anyone?"

So did Trixie, who even did the hand motions. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye?" She met the surprised look with a hands-on-hips pose, haughtily raising her chin. "Trixie is familiar with your group's gang-sign vow."

"I-it's not a gang-sign!"

"To answer your question," giggled Adagio, "I think there's something we've been meaning to tell you." She looked at Aria and Sonata, letting them decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to back out now.

Sonata kept her voice down. "I've been going out with Rarity for a while now."

"And," Aria added before any dirty details could be shared, "I play games with Rainbow after school. It's not like we're friends with their whole group or anything, but we aren't exactly enemies either. The plan is that we won't be biting our tongues and pretending we don't care about our voices, our magic, and our way of life having been ripped out from under us at the last second if we can get at least one of those back, so if this works, we can finally quit pussy-footing around with the rest of the school on the off-chance one of them is willing to talk to us."

"Not that we're barring everyone else off forever," Adagio clarified, "just not seeking their favor anymore."

Trixie scratched her head. "...I get the feeling this has been brewing for a while."

"Kinda. We've talked to them about it, but this showcase thing is new." Arms crossed, Aria folded into herself a little and turned her head away. "So, like, sorry we kept you in the dark and all."

"It's, uh, i-it's okay," she said with a slightly forced smile, "I mean, me exposing one of you to the entire rest of the school is still kinda recent, so, uh... How's that been, by the way?"

"I finally saw it yesterday," muttered an increasingly red Fluttershy as she slowly sunk under the table, "on the whiteboard, in the middle of class, little chibi versions of our heads together under an umbrella with tiny hearts and stars and even if it was kinda cute it was so, so embarrassing!"

"...Right, so, I get why you'd leave me outta the loop on that one." Trixie smiled brightly. "But since I promised, you can trust me because Pinkie'll break my legs if I blab now, right?"

"Probably," shrugged Aria, "so welcome to... knowing... stuff. I guess."

Adagio smiled. "Eloquent as always, Ria."

"Bite me!!"

"Where~?"

"Eep!"

The rest of the table giggled, Trixie picking up. "So, if you've already got the music covered, Trixie would like to make a contribution as well."

The sirens (and Fluttershy) exchanged looks, Sonata tilting her head. "Like what?"

"Well..." Savoring the suspense as she held off on her answer, Trixie just wished she'd been wearing her hat as she showed them her sly, practiced smirk-and-eyebrow-curl face. "This is a metal song, right?"

---

Trixie, the sirens, and Fluttershy stood out by the seats of the same outdoor performance hall in which the Battle of the Bands had taken place. Fluttershy had worried that being here might bring back bad memories for some of them, but several months at CHS had kind of already done that to the point that they were numb to it. She tried not to think about that too hard as a grinning Trixie held the switch to the system they'd watched her set up.

"In three... two... one!"

In an instant, the front of the stage lit up with pillars of blue, green, and yellow (as opposed to the standard orange-ish) flames, drawing immediate appreciation from the sirens in the form of 'oooh's and excitable gestures. As they rapidly whisper-talked amongst themselves about when the best times to utilize the pyrotechnics might be and how often they could do it, Fluttershy turned to Trixie.

"It's really nice of you to offer something like this."

"Heh," Trixie said while striking another pose as though she were in a photo-op, "don't mention it." She maintained the stance for almost a minute before turning her head just enough to make eye-contact, her smile slipping away. "And, y'know, least I could do to make up for exposing your hot, wild romance to the whole school."

"Gtchga!" Fluttershy felt herself burn, though nowhere near brightly enough to be used as part of the stage. "I-I, w-we're not, w-we haven't, it's n-not like we've, it, we aren't the-"

She was seconds away from saying it was Rarity and Sonata that got 'hot and wild,' but still hadn't forgotten how she felt when her secret went public. Adagio wouldn't get mad at her for not denying this even if it genuinely wasn't true yet, right? It wasn't like pretty much everyone didn't already think that was what was going on anyway, so...

Very timidly, Fluttershy folded one arm over the other and looked at the floor. "Um... y-yes..."

"Oh relax, it's not like anyone would blame you."

Fluttershy looked up, noticing that Trixie's eyes were firmly on the sirens at the time. Before her Jealous Girlfriend Senses kicked in, however, she found herself wondering what the three of them would wear for their song. Sonata did say that dressing the part can help, and she had seen the costume room herself.

---

"Morning, Sweetie."

"Good morning!" Fluttershy was always happy to see Adagio sit next to her, but a subtle quirk in Adagio's smile and the worried look in her eyes diminished her own bright, beaming smile to a slightly nervous grin. "Is everything okay?"

"...Uh," she answered while twirling a lock of hair around a fingertip, her head turned just enough to look at Fluttershy out of the corner of her eye, "I'm fine, just..."

Fluttershy recognized this face as Adagio lightly gnawed at her lower lip and started to blush; it was the bashful face! She nearly drew her phone to snap a picture of it, but then Adagio might be careful about what faces she showed from then on and that would be really, really sad, so instead she just cherished it in the moment.

Ooh, the next time she offers a picture, could I ask for one of her looking like this?

Can we get at least one of her naked first? Just to compare to the diary sketches?

Quiet.

Are you still mad about the-

I listened to you and almost poisoned our relationship with the most wonderful girl we'll ever meet. You. Be. Quiet.

By the time she shook off those thoughts, Adagio was still nervously fidgeting in place, the blushing having gotten brighter as she stammered something about the morning treats and all their time together and greeting cards and not having these kinds of holidays where she came from. After a little while, she seemed to realize she was babbling, turned even redder, and looked away, reaching back into her hair to draw something she was hesitant to let Fluttershy see.

"It, you can, I-I was thinking since... My turn?" Glancing aside just enough to make eye-contact with her patient, if slightly confused girlfriend, Adagio brought her other arm around to reveal a big, red, heart-shaped box.

Taking a few seconds to piece together what that object could mean in this context, Fluttershy felt herself smile wider and wider as she touched both hands to her cheeks and let out a loud "Awwww!!"

No less red than a minute ago, Adagio wore a shaky smile. "So, uh, I-I know it's not Valentine's day, but... chocolate?"

Following an especially snuggly hug and a kiss on the cheek from Fluttershy, they opened the box and had a few assorted chocolates together, remarking on the more unique and interesting pieces. Most of them were familiar in one way or another, like the one with caramel inside, but Adagio had made a particularly delighted face when she tasted one with mint. She kindly shared this sensation directly while the flavor was still on her tongue. Fluttershy agreed; mint-chocolate was delightful.

When they had mostly finished the box (which Fluttershy insisted on keeping as a memento of that morning), Fluttershy asked. "How's the song been going?"

"Quite well, though with the showcase not even officially announced yet, I'm taking my time. The lyrics are proving a little tricky with what we can intelligibly sing, but-" she winked, "I'm a cunning linguist, so I'm sure I'll manage." It took a few seconds to sink in, but when Her Sweetie gasped and turned red, Adagio snickered. "If you'd ever like an in-depth demonstration," she said with a faint eyebrow-waggle, "you need only ask."

Quietly sputtering as she tried not to picture things that would destroy her ability to focus on classwork all day, Fluttershy noted that either Adagio was moving past Saturday's misunderstanding much faster than she was, or she took to teasing her out of habit. Either way, she was relieved that the air between them hadn't become strained or awkward on account of that incident.

---

...The air between her and her friends, however, might have still needed some clearing, at least where Rarity was concerned.

Rarity had waited until they could talk in private in the relaxing atmosphere of their weekly spa date, asking when it was just the two of them sitting comfortably in towels in the sauna. "Forgive me if this sounds at all accusing or hypocritical, Darling, but I thought we agreed to trust one another with our relationships to three particular girls."

Frowning, Fluttershy needed no elaboration on what Rarity meant. "I'm sorry, I know you said you'd have supported me no matter who it was back when Rainbow called us over, and all of you have been very helpful ever since, but-"

"You didn't trust us not to say anything?" Her face softened when Fluttershy gave her one of those heart-wrenching looks, the kind Sonata couldn't pull off no matter how hard she tried to get out of punishment. "I didn't mean it like that, Darling, it's just, were you really that worried about them hearing just a little sooner than intended? Even if it didn't work, it-"

"It has to!!"

Taken aback, Rarity stared at in mildly fearful silence. It was not often that she heard Fluttershy raise her voice and interrupt someone in the same breath! She felt a little twinge of remorse for even bringing up the subject when Fluttershy seemed to sense her shock, her expression fading back to contrition as she hid behind her hair.

"...Imagine... imagine if, somehow, Rainbow were crippled, and could never play in any sport ever again, or if Pinkie were blacklisted on every catering service in the world somehow, and couldn't get the supplies she needed to throw parties for some reason. Or, I guess, if you magically lost your fashion sense, couldn't sew a single stitch to save your life, and no matter what you did, even if you came to grips with what you could do, you knew no one else would ever enjoy your work again, at least not on the scale they used to."

She let one eye peek from between strands of hair, unintentionally spooking Rarity a little further with a pink Onryo kind of effect. "It would hurt, wouldn't it? It isn't as though you couldn't live without it, and anyone you met could just as easily tell you to suck it up and move on, but that wouldn't erase the loss. Then, out of nowhere, someone tells you you could get it all back, be everything you remember being before, even shows it to you and makes you genuinely believe it before saying 'Just kidding!' and ripping it away." She shook her head, Rarity hearing the lump in her throat. "That's why I tried to hide it. It's too cruel, I can't do that to them, to anyone, not if I ever wanted to look them in the eye again, s-so," she sniffled," we have to get this right, w-we have-"

Scooching over to wrap Fluttershy in a one-armed hug, Rarity held her tightly until the tears stopped. "It'll be alright," she said in the gentlest, most assuring tone she could muster, "I may not know much about magic, but I do know you, and I know you won't rest until the ones you care about are happy."

Fluttershy hugged her back, the two of them staying that way for a while.



























...Then the realization that they were both, damp, very warm, and clad only in towels while sitting in a private, steamy room sunk in, the two turning red and quickly separating as they silently agreed never to mention this moment to their respective lovers.

---

-Principal Celestia: Good morning, students! I am pleased to announce that we'll be holding a musical showcase (a real one this time!) next Friday. As before, there is no prize and no 'winning' or 'losing,' but feel free to come out and have a good time of it anyway.-6h 23min ago
>-Velvet Sky: Sooo... this just in... -5h 37min ago
_____>-Teddy: WE ALL DEAD -2h 44min ago
>-Micro Chips: Oh, dear. Another public event at this school. -5h 21min ago
_____>-Sweetie Belle: Do you think we'll get another magical calamity? -2h 52min ago
__________>-Micro Chips: I was more worried about the 'public event' part, actually. -2h 45min ago
>-Ditzy Doo: Oh, goodie, I can play my saw again! -5h 9min ago
_____>-Octavia Melody: You can do that anyway, Ditzy. -4h 39min ago
__________>-Ditzy Doo: GASP! :D -4h 32min ago
>-Lyra Heartstrings: Get hype! -5h 2min ago
>-Vanhallan: Nothing could possibly go wrong! -4h 46min ago
_____>-Roseluck: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! -4h 44min ago
>-Aqua Blossom: Uhh... Singing or not, are the Dazzlings allowed to attend this one, or...? -4h 24min ago
_____>-Sweet Leaf: Not if anyone wants this to go well, they won't be. -4h 12min ago
__________>-Ringo: Madam, while your consternation regarding this matter is not wholly baseless, I do feel it is misplaced. The three girls in question have not only been well-behaved for the majority of their time here, but gone out of their way to be approachable and inoffensive, much to the indifference of our student body as a whole. All of our initial fears that they would rain down on us with a new source of magic at worst and become bullies more aggressive than the old Sunset Shimmer at best have been discredited by the simple fact that in these last several months, we as a school have done more harm to them than their group has done to any one of us. This is without considering which of those two parties musically alleges to subscribe to the notion of companionship overcoming adversity.

Caution is healthy up to a point, but to sit back and wait for 'proof' of one's fears while barring off any and all information that conflicts with it is the very definition of confirmation bias, and to apply such reasoning to living, breathing people despite a solid contradiction walking among us is utterly senseless. -4h 8min ago
_______________>-Brawly Beats: DUDE!! -4h 3min ago
_______________>-Violet Burr: Damn, man. Didn't know you had it in you. -2h 36min ago
_______________>-Octavia Melody: You're just hypnotized by Adagio's backside. -1h 44min ago
____________________>-Ringo: Be that as it may, my point still stands. -1h 27min ago
____________________>-Cloudkicker: Can you blame him? You should see the side profile on that thing. -1h 22min ago
_________________________>-Pixel Pizzaz: PREACH! -1h 12min ago
_________________________>-Cherry Crash: So much this! -1h 9min ago
_________________________>-Bulk Biceps: YEAH! -54min ago
_________________________>-Roseluck: Wait, are we talking about her hair or her ass here? -37min ago
______________________________>-Pinkie Pie: Both, silly! -33min ago
_________________________>-Mystery Mint: The sirens in general. CHS needs a swim team. -44min ago
______________________________>-Luna: We will look into a fundraiser for a pool should it be in the school's interest. -25min ago
______________________________>-Indigo Zap: Crystal Prep already has a big, competition-standard pool and a few water-related clubs. Just throwing that out there. -13min ago
___________________________________>-Bon-Bon: What are you even doing here?!-2min ago

---

Aria clicked her tongue. "This school is full'a hypocrites, idiots, and perverts."

"It's full'a hormone-crazed teenagers, Ria," observed Sonata, "what'd you expect?"

Not answering, Aria looked to their leader to find her resting one elbow on the table, that hand being used in a facepalm to partly conceal a mild blush. "If all it would have taken to make some friends at this school," she muttered through gritted teeth, "was a pair of very tight, low-riding pants, I'm going to have to hurt someone."

Aria wore a sympathetic little smile. "Hey, if you're thinking you just needed to shake your ass at people to win everyone over, just remember that seducing people into liking us only would have gotten us fake friends, same as if we'd buddied up with the Rainbooms."

Looking up, Adagio smiled with a hint of relief. "Yes, I suppose it would. Thank you, Ria."

"Any time?"

There was a lull in conversation. Sonata beamed. "Y'know, you could still wear tight, low-riding pa-"

Amused, Adagio waved her off. "Ask your dom to wear them for you."

"Shoot!"

"And more importantly, it looked like Ringo was actually defending us. Probably too little, too late now, but if this doesn't work, even if we don't get our voices back, we might still have a chance with falling back the old plan."

Aria raised a skeptical eyebrow. "A chance with the people who only wanna see you do your towel-drop routine again with the bathrobe?"

"It's not a favorable option, I'll admit, but if we find ourselves exclusively doing vocals for metal (which, I have to say, I'm feeling a little lukewarm about so far) and lullabies from now on? It would be something."

Aria nodded. She could certainly respect having a back-up plan if something went wrong.

And speaking of which...

"So, Dagi, you remember how we treated Squeaky when she came back, right?"

"Yes?"

"Would you mind staying home this afternoon?"

"What?"

---

"So you're more of a spoon and bowl person, huh, Dr. Seuss?"

"K-kind of, it makes the melting easier to contain."

Though she had initially told them it wasn't necessary and she completely understood why they'd gotten upset with her, Aria and Sonata had insisted on taking Fluttershy out for ice cream when they found her alone while leaving the animal shelter for the day. Whether or not they had waited for her out there, she hadn't quite been sure she should ask. Instead, she opted for small-talk.

"How's your milkshake, Aria?"

Aria shrugged, nonchalant. "Cold, sugary, pretty much what you'd expect. I'm with you on the melting thing, though; and sucking it up through a straw keeps things even cleaner."

There was a teasing crook to Sonata's smile. "And makes it easier to keep ice cream headaches away?"

"More importantly," Aria grumbled through a light blush, "there's not as much risk of dropping bits of it on the floor and some idiot coming along to try to lick it up."

"Huh?" Perplexed, Sonata scratched her head. "Nobody came along that time, I just tried to eat it myself because the floors there were really clean and-" Her eyes widened, then narrowed in annoyance. "Heeey!"

Aria playfully stuck her tongue out, drawing a giggle from Fluttershy before taking another sip of her shake. Convincing Adagio to stay home and play Direct Phoneline Florida (a particularly violent, fast-paced game suitable to Adagio's instant-gratification-loving tastes) had been much easier when Sonata explained how it wouldn't really be just the two of them making up for the wedgie if Adagio tagged along.

"So, again, sorry about earlier. You've never really given us a reason to think you'd wanna hurt us, but when something like that happens, thinking 'Oh, I'm sure they mean well' just doesn't come naturally, y'know?" She got uncomfortable squiggles in her guts when Fluttershy smiled all warm and peaceful.

"It's okay, I know how hard it can be to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Believe it or not, I used to go around thinking everyone was just out to get me a little after middle school." From the looks on their faces, it was possible Aria and Sonata didn't believe it. "But then I met Pinkie Pie, and when I finally gave her a chance, I found out what I had been missing by always pushing everyone away. I made a few more friends, and figured, even if some people really do have bad intentions, it was almost always better for me in the long run to try to trust people, to give everyone a chance no matter how things look at first."

The faces she got for this were a little more contemplative, but still quiet, so she went on. "I didn't exactly trust Adagio either, the first time she found me on the bench, b-because, well... But, after a while, I felt like if she wanted to hurt me, she would have, so..." Her smile turned tender as she felt herself blush. "I think you know how things went from there. Was that what it was like for you two?"

"Not really," Aria admitted somewhat uncomfortably, "because while I didn't wanna go burning bridges and making a mess, I didn't trust Doom at all the first time she talked to me alone. In fact, knowing what I knew about her, I was pretty sure all she wanted to was to beat me at whatever game she was playing in front of witnesses, like she was looking for a victory lap." She chuckled. "Of course, now that I know her better, I know she'd never think that far ahead."

Fluttershy blinked. "Um... Okay then... What about you, Sonata?"

"Huh?"

"You must have trusted R-" a sharp look from Aria kept her from saying the name out loud, "-rr... that person to not have any bad intentions if you kept visiting her, right?"

"Oh. I'unno, didn't really think about it." Both Aria and Fluttershy looked like they were expecting more, so she kept talking. "I got the pajamas I came there for, but she was pretty, fed me tea and fancy snacks, didn't give me those 'just-need-an-excuse-to-call-the-cops-on-you' stares, kept letting me help with stuff, and I liked talking to her, so I kept coming back."

"...Oh."

Friendship lessons weren't always clear and easy, she guessed. Maybe she just hadn't picked the right one in this case?

Quietly sipping her milkshake, Aria decided against the other talking point she'd wanted to bring up today. It seemed like a safe bet that all three of them would get rainbow-blasted again if Sonata or Adagio left either of their Rainboom sweethearts on bad terms, and she'd wanted to make it clear that she'd have her own justice if either of her oldest friends were the ones to end up with broken hearts.

However, Fluttershy probably got that message already, and if anything, felt more like the type to beat herself up worse than anything Aria would want to do to her if she found Adagio as a crying, inconsolable mess again. That in mind, she opted to keep the friendly, sorry-about-the-wedgie atmosphere just the way it was, hoping they'd never need to bring up the subject of heartbreak-induced vengeance again.

---

As the three of them headed for CHS's music room, Sonata couldn't help feeling a little uneasy. "You're sure the Rainbooms are gonna do it right, Dagi? This stuff isn't really their bread and butter."

"Completely sure? No, but worst comes to worst, we need only hire professionals to record the tune for us before the showcase."

"That'd rack up a bill after a while," Aria idly noted, "and what we've got ain't gonna last forever. Anyone have any idea what we're gonna do once school ends?"

"A few," Adagio answered offhandedly as they came up on the music room, "but for now, let's focus on the matter at hand. The text said they'd gotten through the entire song with no problems today and we should stop by to-"

The doors flung open, a blue, rainbow-haired blur bolting out to draw a startled shriek from Adagio by grabbing her by the waist, picking her up, and twirling her in a circle before setting her down again, to the sirens' mutual confusion as Rainbow excitedly babbled something about rocket ships and stone birds and brain-steroids. They couldn't remotely follow what she was saying, but her beaming smile and occasional fist-pumping motions made it clear that she was all psyched up.

"Uh," Aria ventured with audible concern, "you feeling alright there?"

"Great," she answered through a face-splitting grin, still practically shaking as she tried to contain herself, "so great! Blood's pumping and I feel like I could punch-" she punched a nearby wall, hard enough to make the sirens wince, "a building!!"

There was a pause that Sonata hesitantly broke. "...Didn't that hur-"

Rainbow was still smiling. "Knuckle's bleeding!!"

"Forgive her enthusiasm," Rarity said as she joined them out in the hall, her hair lightly disheveled as she focused on Sonata with a half-lidded look, "but I think all of us got into the groove, as it were, most of all Rainbow. I'm sure the effect will wear off in due time."

"'Effect'?!" Aria scowled at Adagio. "Have you been holding out on us?!"

Adagio sputtered in indignant disbelief before Sunset and Fluttershy stepped out too, the former answering. "There was no magic, we'd just never played a song like that before and it had kind of an impact on some of us. Promise."

She tried not to laugh at the withering look and very sheepish, apologetic smile Adagio and Aria were giving each other, respectively, but hoped she could blame her grin on the same high that had affected the others if anyone asked. She only had to crane her head backward to hear that Pinkie and Applejack were still talking about branching out a little. Doing so must have caused her to miss something, because Fluttershy was now bandaging Rainbow's hand and Rarity was kissing Sonata right in the middle of the hall. Classes were over and almost nobody was in the building around this time, but still.

"R-Rari," Sonata whispered through a wobbly smile, face flushed as she tried to turn away, "someone might see us."

"Frankly my dear," she breathed while brushing a loose strand of Sonata's fringe back into place, "I don't give a damn."

Many eyes widened as Rarity pushed Sonata to the floor to commence aggressive French kisses. After about a minute of that, Adagio regarded Sunset with a raised eyebrow.

"Playing one metal-style song did this to your group?"

"The girls that are used to singing cheerful pop ballads about the joys of friendship? Kinda looks like it, yea."

"Part of it might have been the lyrics," Fluttershy chimed in, "because while we didn't sing, part of what helped us get the feeling of the song was to go through the lyrics in our heads." She grinned brightly. "I wasn't even playing an instrument and I still got goosebumps!"

"I'm sure we can do it again if the recording isn't quite what you had in mind," Sunset offered with a smile, "but if not, do you guys have everything you need?"

Glancing over the floor-bound couple, Aria crossed her arms. "A tarp to cover these two, maybe."

"I think we're set," Adagio giggled, her lips forming a warm, genuine smile, "and, thank you."

Feeling another shot of that extra-cuddly Friendship Juice in her chest, Sunset smiled too. "Any time!"

---

"This is it, this is really, really it," Pinkie excitedly reminded everyone as she bobbed in place in front of the big, outdoor performance hall, "today's the day; the big showcase!"

"Yes, we know," tittered Rarity, "I think all of us have been looking forward to this."

Applejack smiled as she straightened her hat. "We still playin' 'Shine Like Rainbows' when it's our turn?"

"Darn right we are!" Rainbow, almost as psyched up as Pinkie as she pumped a still-bandaged fist. "It's the only thing we've got that feels feelsy enough for today, y'know?"

Sunset snorted, amused. "Never thought you'd pick a song for a reason like that."

Hands on her hips, Rainbow struck a Trixie-worthy pose of chin-raised haughtiness. "I can read a mood sometimes."

The group giggled, Applejack taking a quick look around. "So, anyone seen the sirens today? This is kinda their show, after all."

"I believe they're getting ready backstage," answered Rarity, "even got their wardrobe all squared away."

Pinkie tilted her head. "They didn't let you dress 'em up for this?"

"Sonata apparently wasn't exaggerating when she said they had an extensive costume department and the style she talked about isn't exactly my forte anyway, so it's likely for the best." She looked askance at Rainbow. "Speaking of accessorizing, didn't you say your hand had healed up?"

"Yea, but the bandage just looks cool."

There were more giggles, Fluttershy looking towards the stage as she pictured the upcoming performance. For once, she barely felt the fears and worries that swirled around in her belly, just looking forward to many more songs in many more styles from her three favorite singers.

---

The showcase opened in the late afternoon with Trixie and The Illusions (Fluttershy had been surprised that they'd apparently talked a little before today), who played an upbeat, but not as in-your-face kind of song as what they performed during the Battle of the Bands. Fluttershy had been surprised to see them together, but apparently the group had talked just a few days before the showcase. Snips and Snails (tried to) perform another rap, this time earning an approving look from Principal Celestia for not dropping the microphones. Flash Drive and Ditzy's band played their songs, the Rainbooms had their turn (which, standing on such a big, everyone-staring-right-at-you stage, Fluttershy got through by closing her eyes and thinking of swingy walks), Octavia played a soulful classic, and then it was the sirens' turn.

The lights dimmed over an empty stage, a lasting quiet making a few people wonder if the showcase was over and it was time to go home. This ambiguity was shattered when the sudden, startling sound of three low, guttural voices called out in unison.

"We want..."

As making these work has a lot to do with following the syllables, I resisted writing a parody song for something in Japanese (which tends to say a lot more a lot faster) in another story, but here's hoping German is easier to follow!

The voices came again, the music starting up in quiet, but rhythmic pulse as they repeated the chant, building tension until a lavender-scented smoke-bomb detonated at the back of the stage. Accompanied by the entry of the guitars, the sirens slowly sauntered out into view.

Adagio was clad in a black, shiny, skin-tight jumpsuit under thin, dark-purple skirt that hung down by her knees from the back and cut up to her thighs in the front, a trim vest of the same color, and her belt, hairband, and high-heeled boots all adorned with spikes. Happy to take the excuse, she even wore thick, black eyeshadow and lipstick. On her right, Aria proudly wore a thick, black jacket with metal spikes sticking out of the arms and shoulders in apparently random directions, tight black jeans, thin, black heels, fingerless gloves, and a black skull painted over her face. On Adagio's opposite side, Sonata wore dark-red, tattered, punkish shorts, big, spiky bracers, spiky-footed boots that went up to her knees, tank-top that, while thin, didn't show anything indecent, and face-paint resembling a jack-o-lantern with black, crazy eyes and a sharp, wavy mouth.

By the time the lyrics got started, every eye in the audience was watching with rapt attention.

We want you to hear us out,
We want...
We want to hear voices shout!
We want...
We want you to sing with us.
We want-
-you to know our song, and thus!

We want...
We want you all on your feet.
We want...
We want you feeling the beat!
We want...
We want your counter-attack!
We want...
We want you all screaming back!!

Fluttershy beamed with delight as she glanced around to see quite a few people already bobbing along with the tune, even as some others looked on as though expecting another spell.

We want...
We want all of you to see...
We want...
We want all of you to be...
We want...
We want you to feel this too.
We want, a voice from all of you!

Kneeling down and extending a hand outward to the crowd, Adagio purred in her regular speaking voice.

"Listening?
You'll know the words...
When we sing...
Come be heard!"

What do you hear?!

The sirens felt a warm pulse as some of the crowd joined in.

I hear you!

And when we sing?!

I'll sing too!

And when we're screaming?!

I'll scream too!

We want to hear you!


What do you hear?!

I hear you!

And when we sing?!

I'll sing too!

And when we're screaming?!

I'll scream too!

We want to hear you!

We want...

We want...

We want...

We want...

Softly, Adagio again addressed the audience in her speaking voice as the song quieted down.

"We just want to sing with you...
To know Harmony like you do...
If you'd come and join our song...
I'm sure we can get along..." She winked. "Right?"

The music picked up with a vengeance as Trixie's colorful pyrotechnics flared up, many in the audience jumping to their feet to join in.

What do you hear?!

We hear you!

And when we sing?!

We'll sing too!

And when we're screaming?!

We'll scream too!

We want to hear you!

What do you hear?!

We hear you!

And when we sing?!

We'll sing too!

And when we're screaming?!

We'll scream too!

We want to hear you!

We want...

We want...

The sirens timed the song's abrupt end with a bow, and not just because none of them wanted the roaring crowd (not everyone, but the ones they heard were going ballistic), to see the tears in their eyes or the embarrassingly sappy smiles on their faces as they drank in applause for the first time in...

Since before they entered this world, maybe? It wasn't quite what they'd expected, but this was pretty much it; what they'd wanted all this time, and the warm tingles in their chests as clear a sign as they knew how to interpret that something had just happened. However, when Adagio mustered the will to look at the crowd again, seeing all the same faces in the exact same spot she'd stood when they lost their gems and all that came with them, she froze. As much as she wanted to let out a perfect note in her unaltered singing voice, to confirm to her smiling Sweetie that everything had finally worked out, she hesitated. Glancing at the others, she found that they were most likely thinking something similar, opting to regroup backstage.

When the crowd had mostly quieted down, looking at the three of them with a hint of anticipation, she addressed them with a slightly sheepish expression. "So, uh..." striking a cutesy pose despite her dark and imposing appearance, she winked, "bye!" She detonated one of Trixie's smoke-bombs and the three of them ran, drawing giggles from many in the audience as Lyra and Bon-Bon got their piano ready.

Sitting by her friends, Sunset smiled. "I think it worked!"

Rarity looked less sure. "Should we go check on them?"

"They looked pretty happy to me," added Applejack, "right Flutter-..." She looked around. "shy?"

---

The trio stood in silence, trading unsure glances and occasionally opening their mouths only to snap them shut again. The prospect of having it all back at long last was an enticing and exhilarating one, but in the same box awaited the possibility that nothing had changed, a confirmation that they truly had lost it forever with no hope of recovery, the very reason all three had been to afraid to even think of directly asking for help. At this point, all that remained was to try.

And that was the scary part.

They couldn't exactly go the rest of their lives just not knowing, of course, and it wouldn't be fair to the Rainbooms (and Trixie!) to let them go to all that effort without any kind of closure, so it was only a matter of time until they worked up the courage. Seeing the paralyzing anxiety in Aria and Sonata's faces, Adagio again pushed herself to take the first leap, but the second she took a breath, the three of them were startled by the door flying open.

"Did it work?" Fluttershy focused directly on Adagio as she paced closer, "were they right about waking up your magic again?"

"We d-don't really know yet," murmured Aria, her eyes on her shoes.

"We know we can do metal," Sonata offered with a forced smile, "so like, there's that."

The mood of the room did not get one iota lighter. The sirens looked at each other and Fluttershy until Adagio cleared her throat to try again. Starting low, she let out a quiet note as perfectly as the night Fluttershy suggested lullabies, then gradually pushed further.

Her voice cracked.

Not looking at any of the others for even a second, she closed her eyes and tried again, only a few seconds passing before she heard the strained screech from her own mouth. Calming herself as best she could, she immediately tried again, with even worse results than before. Her voice died off into a pitiful whimper as she covered her face in shame, clamping down on any and all noise as she struggled not to audibly cry.

Tears streaming down her face, Aria grit her teeth in defiance and tried to sing herself, only pushing harder when she heard her own tuneless, wretched voice. She was quickly joined by Sonata, whose sobs would have thrown her off even without the painful attempts at music she produced. It wasn't long before all three of them found that they were no better than before and anguished weeping was the only sound any of them made.

Aria sniffled, turning a glare on Fluttershy. "Happy now?"

In the back of her mind, she knew it wasn't fair to blame Fluttershy for this, but as with the outcome of the Battle, she told herself the fault lied with the person whose idea this was. Her rage was short-lived, because not so differently from Adagio at the time, Fluttershy looked even more miserable than she did, on her knees as she silently cried, an utterly anguished look of despair in her eyes.

"I'm sorry," she bawled, "I'm so, so sorry, this wasn't supposed to happen! This, th-this is why I, I didn't want it to-"

The rest was lost as Fluttershy crumpled to the floor, shaking with sobs as she wept into her own arms and hair. Feeling robbed and helpless yet again, the sirens didn't fare much better, with Sonata curling into a ball to hide her face in her knees and Aria turning away, clenching her fists so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Standing rigidly where she'd been, Adagio found herself utterly paralyzed, torn between the crushing finality of their loss, the howling rage born of disappointment and frustration, and a twisted kind of regret that any of the others had to be involved in this in any way.

She glanced at Aria and Sonata, then Fluttershy, a painfully pitiful sight even if Adagio weren't hopelessly in love with her. Even if Fluttershy wasn't taking this any better than they were, she knew Fluttershy had been through her own pains and losses, and even the bitter, vindictive voice at the back of her mind, the one that used to call for retribution on a daily basis, drew little satisfaction from the misery of one who had helped break her. If anything, it made her feel worse, the heart-vice tangled into a knot like never before as she found herself stepping closer to lean down and put a hand on Fluttershy's shoulder.

"Don't," Fluttershy all but begged through her tears as she pushed Adagio's hand away, "please, don't, I can't I c-can't-" She forced herself to speak through her inelegant blubbering, even if these ended up being the last words she ever said to any of the sirens. "I can't let you forg-give me for this, it's too, it's, I never meant to-"

She quickly lost what little composure she'd had as Adagio pulled her into a hug anyway, holding on even as Fluttershy frantically tried to squirm free in her fit of guilt-induced self-hatred. Adagio remembered when she was the one that didn't feel she deserved forgiveness, and the time she was the one that needed help, which was where she drew the inspiration of how to calm Fluttershy down.

Turning their heads as Adagio started singing a soft, soothing lullaby, her voice unhampered by the strange volume issues that had kept them restricted to specific ranges, Aria and Sonata watched in silence for a moment. It wasn't every day that they saw someone cry, and emotional outpour of one who reached out to them by herself, who only strove to make their lives better despite past difficulties, wasn't one they wanted to see. Aria sniffled once, wiping the tears out of her eyes as best she could as she walked over, knelt down, and wrapped her arms around Fluttershy and Adagio. She hadn't heard Sonata move, but there she was almost immediately as the two gingerly joined in the song.

It was hard to tell whether or not Fluttershy even recognized the lullaby she'd sung when Adagio was sick, because she continued crying long enough that they had to start the song over. Whether they were better synchronized on the second go or she was just running out of tears, her sobs faded to whimpers and sniffles, which faded into silence as she finally started to calm down. The sirens kept singing anyway, if only to reinforce that they didn't hate her or blame her for this, but the warmth they felt as she stopped trying to wriggle out of their grasp and cuddled hungrily into the embrace might have kept them going regardless.

Even with the restriction on their vocal cords, all three felt pretty good about this. It was almost nostalgic; the kind of feeling they used to get when returning from another job for Coltlantis, a sweet mixture of pride and contentment in knowing they had secured that which mattered most to them for another day. It was a very warm feeling! Maybe Fluttershy even got it in a second-hand happy kind of way, because she eventually looked up, managing a tiny smile.

"I didn't notice the ears before, during the show. When did you add those?"

Adagio blinked twice. "Ears?"

Looking at her, Sonata's eyes widened and she pointed. "Aaaaaahh!"

Wincing, Aria wore a half-hearted scowl. "Don't yell in our ears you doof-AAAAH!!"

At the second scream, Adagio raised her hands to cover her ears... only to not find them. That was when she noticed that Aria and Sonata both had pony ears atop their heads, as well as the hair extensions and gossamer wings she remembered from the Battle. Reaching higher up on her own head, she found herself in the same situation. "What-?!"

Before she could even finish the exclamation, Sonata let out a long, loud note. In her regular singing voice. There was a pause, followed by all three sirens trying in unison to sing like they used to, no whispers or throaty metal vocals. They could sing again.

What followed is best described as an equally confused and delighted romp around the little room as the four girls practically rolled around on the floor as a big, giggly mass of bodies in a blend of four repeating, simultaneous hug-tackles happening at the same time, with a few light bruises and parts of spiky outfits jabbing some uncomfortable places and leaving scratch-marks on the floor. The sirens continued to sing a happy, disjointed barrage of random songs even when the pony-up faded, going until they were all out of breath. It was this noise that clued the searching Rainbooms in to their exact location, Sunset the first to pop her head through the doorway.

"Here they are! I heard laughing and singing, did it wor-" When she saw the badly-smeared blackness of the sirens' make-up among the visually-baffling mound of tangled bodies and erratic limbs, she stopped, shrieked, and bolted from the room, the other Rainbooms popping in much like she had.

"What's goin-"
"Y'all okay in-"
"Heya, guys-"
"Good heav-"

Seeing the same sight as Sunset, the remaining four Rainbooms went wide-eyed, screamed, and fainted.

Adagio giggled. "Not that I don't like being close to all of you, but we should probably help them up."

And so they did! Once everyone was untangled and Nurse Fluttershy had been allowed to address everyone's tiny, but numerous wounds. As the only cooperative patient, Adagio had watched with delighted amusement as Aria and Sonata learned the hard way never to fight their nurse.

Author's Note:

This probably isn't the first predictable resolution to a story I've done, but FiM is a very cliche-friendly place when it comes to happy endings.

And yes, how exactly that worked will be addressed in the history chapter (by which point they'll have had some time to think about it) with Pri-Twi. On that note, any questions you may have regarding (this version of) Coltlantis and the sirens' origins, Twilight may ask in the interview, so feel free to leave them in the comments! ...But remember that Adagio is the one answering. :twilightoops:

I was tempted to say the sirens could play just about any musical instrument (and thus be able to make the song themselves) because they had a magical affinity with music in general and that it was just their vocal cords that were damaged, but I feel that wouldn't have made sense for a short list of reasons, and more importantly, I didn't so much as hint to it anywhere else in the story, so it would have come out of nowhere.

I know Sunset got away with it (as she generally does), but if they could play instruments (from another world, no less) all this time, I think they'd at least be content to jam together rather than sulking about not being able to sing, specifically.

So instead, we get a little reinforcement of the name of the show when some friends lend a helping hand! :pinkiehappy:

I also wanted to include a note of Luna suddenly having painted her own face and head-banging during the sirens' song (and Celestia being very glad no one was looking at them), but there just wasn't room for it to fit neatly. Still happened, though!

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