• Published 21st Oct 2016
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Make a Mistake with Me - CoffeeAndCigarettes



Behind you: juvie. Before you: Canterlot High School.

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Track #9: Last Purple Sky

Track #9: Last Purple Sky

Coffee and cigarettes.

Almost a month has passed, and yet those are still the only things you have to your name.

“Motherfucker…”

Okay, that’s not technically correct anymore. You were also once again the proud owner of the oil-leaking piece of crap directly above you.

“If it’s the crankcase pressure, someone’s going to die back at the auto shop.”

Considering all that you’ve been through today, you are ready to choke a bitch. Instead you wrap some silicone tape around the suspected leak and drag yourself out from under the car.

You are currently at your uncle’s salvage yard at the edge of the town, doing your best to screw up your Saturday plans. Sure enough, it’s not like you had anything special coming up. Sonata had talked about going out for food, though, and Adagio had not disagreed with the idea.

No, that had been left to Aria. Deep Purple was still not a fan of yours, and kept doing her very best keep you at an arm’s length. Not that you minded particularly. You didn’t exactly like her either.

Still, if either Sonata or Adagio wanted to hang out with you, that wasn’t her business. Mumbling vague curses under your breath, you pop open the cooler box, fish a beer from inside and put the lid back down, sitting on it. Throwing a glare at the Saturn Yellow vehicle before you, you twist open the bottle in your hands and take a swig.

Jesus. Lone Star. Uncle Bobby had an absolute shit taste when it came to alcohol. That or his mouth was dead already from the amount of moonshine he had consumed back in the day.

Oh, and speaking of shit taste: it turned out Uncle Bobby was a Ted Nugent fan. You swore this was the fifth time in the last two hours you heard 'Stranglehold' from the speakers.

The salvage yard was empty except for you and the Buick GSX you were in process of fixing. Last time you had seen the thing, it had been a veritable pretzel. To be honest, you had still hard time believing your eyes. Just last night, your uncle had returned from a cross-state trip to get it back to you from your old home.

All things considered, you were indebted to the old coot.

He had gotten you an apartment here, helped you enroll in CHS, and now even got your old car back (not to mention having it rebuilt from the ground up.) Without him, you’d probably be still wasting your time with something meaningless. But now, even on a day when your fledgling plans had been shot down, you still had something to do.

… Even if that was only trying to find the reason for an oil leak.

Heaving a sigh, you lit up a cigarette and brought it to your lips. Sun was shining with a surprising force, almost like a final fanfare before the autumn would give way to winter. It was the perfect weather to spend doing something like this.

However, you couldn’t help but to feel a bit bummed out.

Despite it being a bit hard to admit, you had gotten quite used to the presence of the “Dazzlings.” That’s what they sometimes referred to themselves as. Sonata especially had started to home in on you every lunch break. She was easy to talk with, and that boundless energy she possessed was enough to dispel even your grouchiest moods.You knew that most of the student body of CHS still threw dirty glares at her whenever she drew attention to herself.

To be honest, you had yet to hear the full reason.

Neither the trio nor anyone else wanted to talk about it… and you were just fine with that. If it ever started bothering Sonata, she’d explain things to you. If there was anything you had learned during these two weeks, it was the blue-haired goof was honest.

Adagio, on the other hand, was a whole different beast.

With or without meaning to, somehow your meetings always turned into competitions of some sort. It was almost like she found it hilarious to annoy you and order you around. Which she probably did, let’s be honest. But at the end of the day, you let her keep it up. That smile that rose to Adagio’s face whenever you were arguing about something or challenging each other… it was contagious.

Actually, the poofy girl was master of overblown expressions, whether she realized it or not. Her interactions with Sonata were hilarious to watch, to say the least. And while she maintained that she was merely with the other two because it was convenient, you weren’t stupid. You had noticed the occasional soft expression rise on her face when she heard Sonata practicing her singing.

Unfortunately, while Sonata and in ways, Adagio, had gotten used to your presence… Aria most certainly had not. She did nothing but stare daggers at you whenever you talked with either of the other two. Hell, you had refrained from eating with the trio in the cafeteria because of that, despite the many times Sonata had invited you.

You would just have to find ways to meet with Sonata and Adagio whenever Miss Twintails wasn’t around.

“Goddamn Aria…” You mutter another set of curses and take a swig from your beer. The mere thought of her is enough to get you in a bad mood.

… Unfortunately, this topic seemed to have a negative effect in someone else, too.

“Got a problem with me, dumbass?”

Ah, speak of the devil, and she shall appear. No matter how unlikely.

You don’t even bother to mask your surprise as you look up from your bottle and see Aria standing not five feet away from you. Myriads of “hows” and “whys” keep playing in your head. Eventually you opt to just blurt out a greeting.

“Hey there, Aloofy. Poofy and Goofy not with you today?”

“What does it look like? Now, you gonna tell me what the hell you were mumbling about me?” Aria’s eyebrows are twitching in a manner most dangerous.

Her arms are folded, and you notice she’s carrying a cheap plastic bag. In addition, there’s also something that looks vaguely like a tool belt on her hips. If it wasn’t missing tools and didn’t look like it had been a dog’s chew toy, you might have even called it that.

Curiouser and curiouser.

“Oh, that? I was just pining after you, that’s all. No big deal.” You take a drag from your cigarette and grin.

Aria doesn’t seem to think so, however.Her eyes narrow in anger, and there’s a dangerous red flush on her face.

“Keep it up, jackass, and I’ll show you a big deal,” she growls.

“As inviting as that sounds, I’ll pass,” you chuckle.

Standing up from the cooler box, you crack your neck and look down at Aria. Man, you had forgotten that this girl wasn’t exactly the tallest one around. Even with those legs that were almost criminal in length, she was still David facing the Goliath.

“Anyways, I doubt you’re here to see me. What’cha want?” You ask.

You empty your beer with one gulp and throw away the bottle in the nearby dumpster. Your instincts tell you to keep both of your hands free in the case she tries to murder you out of the blue.

“Have you seen Bobby? He’s the owner of this place,” Aria snorts and smiles mockingly. “Though I doubt you had enough manners to introduce yourself when you drove this junker inside.”

Wait. Aria knows your Uncle Bobby?

… The hell?

“If you mean the old dude in trucker cap that he never washes, then he hopped in his pickup truck this morning and drove away. Haven’t seen him since,” You nod towards the main building, where now only the wrecker remained. “He also happens to be my uncle.”

You add that as if it was an afterthought.

Aria does not take these news well. She punches the door of the Buick next to her while grinding her teeth together. You glare at her but say nothing. She realizes what she just did, and retracts her hand. And while she does not look apologetic at least she’s… pouting?

You count that as something of a victory.

“That old fart! He was supposed to show me some of the ropes today. I’m gonna kill him when he gets back!” she nearly shouts.

Her promises of family-related tragedies leave you unfazed, and you only cock your eyebrow at her outburst.

“’Show you the ropes’? What’s going on here, exactly?” You inquire.

Aria glares at you, almost as if intending to make you the scapegoat for her mood. You return her stare with unwavering gaze of your own. Eventually, after full ten seconds of stare-competition, she relents.

“Well… I’ve been helping out here. You know, assisting Bobby with the cars and such. I mean, somebody has to earn enough money for food,” she says and her eyes narrow in annoyance. ”And Adagio and Sonata are making it pretty clear they’re not gonna take our situation seriously anymore.”

Well…

This was surprising, to say the least.

You knew the Dazzlings had to do some sort of work to keep eating. And you knew your uncle wasn’t above moonlighting employees. But for Aria to work here at the salvage yard… that definitely didn’t fit her image. It seems she realized this too, as she was doing her best to avoid your gaze.

“Well, Uncle Bobby won’t be back till tomorrow, if even then,” you say and scratch your neck. “He has an annoying habit of leaving for days without announcing it.”

It’s pretty clear that the money from this job is important to Aria. And in a way, something about her explanation made you feel a pang of guilt. Sure enough, just because Sonata and Adagio had rekindled their passions for music, it didn’t mean they weren’t taking their situation seriously.

But hearing those words had made you suddenly see Aria’s point of view, too.

In other words, running into some random guy who suddenly made two of her friends act the opposite of what they had yesterday. Even Adagio had said it when you two met. She had started to hate music. For Aria, this sudden change and her being the only one bringing money to the table… well, it must’ve been infuriating.

No wonder she was taking it out on you.

“Well, if you’re up for it…” You take a careful drag from your cigarette, weighing your words before speaking them. “… I can show you what I know. I was fixing up the old girl here anyhow, so you might learn something by watching.”

Aria stares you like you had grown another head. You try to shrug nonchalantly, but even you feel how stiff you are.

“I can even pay you something for the work. I can just have Bobby pay me later. I’m not in too tight spot with money right now,” you add.

The long silence just grows and grows.

It’s a small miracle Aria hasn’t dropped her plastic bag to the ground. However, nothing lasts forever. A new track starts blaring from the speakers, and suddenly both you and Aria get an earful of La Grange. Nothing breaks the moment better than the sound of Billy Gibbons’ voice.

“Wait… you know about fixing cars?” Aria looks a bit bewildered, and you nod tentatively.

“Sure, to some extent. I can show you basics about engine. You don’t have much experience yourself, right?” You ask.

Aria shakes her head.

“So, there ya go. I don’t mind if you want to just hang around and verbally spar with me for next 24 hours. And that’s if Bobby comes back,” you say and emphasize your point by gently patting the hood of your car. “Or we can see if we can’t find the leak in this baby while I teach you what I know.”

It’s kind of a weak olive branch that you’re extending. Barely enough to cross through Aria’s Absolute Grump field. But, having listened to Aria just now, you’re beginning to realize something.

She’s not unreasonable.

She’s just under a truckload of stress.

You should talk about this with Adagio and Sonata later, but for now… You need to focus to the task at hand.

“… Ugh, fine. Let’s do this. Just don’t expect me to fawn over you like Sonata does,” she says and shoots you a disgusted glare.

You answer it with a lopsided smile.

“Gotcha. You’ll reserve the right to badmouth me. I can work with that,” you chuckle.

You then gesture her towards the main building with a vague shake of a hand.

“Anyways, you’ll want to change out of those clothes. No sense in dirtying them here. I don’t think Bobby keeps any spare coveralls, but mine are hanging from the nail at the entrance of the garage.” You point at the place. “Feel free to use them.”

Aria looks like she wants to make a furious retort, but retracts it just at the last moment. True enough, as you pop open the hood of your car, she can see it ain’t in the cleanest of conditions. Begrudgingly and stomping her feet, she heads over to the garage.

However, halfway there, she turns around and throws you a look over her shoulder.

Damn. That’s one evil smile.

“Then again, it’s no wonder you know how to fix stuff. You do look like a Led Zeppelin roadie,” she says.

Blatant insult for the sake of insulting. This girl is not afraid to go for the low blows. You’re almost ready to throw one back just for the hell of it, but you clamp your mouth shut.

Wait. There was…

There was something weird in what she just said.

“Hold on. How the hell do you know who Led Zeppelin are?” You ask and look at Aria, eyes full of suspicion.

The girl stares back at you with eyes of a deer in the headlights of a sleeper bus. She quickly turns around and continues her march, trying to hide her blush. Her movements are so stiff enough to belong to a robot.

“Well… this should be interesting all right,” you mutter to yourself.

Eventually Aria returns, by the time you’re finished with your cigarette. Immediately you hear some grumbling.

“These clothes stink,” she grumbles.

You can’t even argue with that. Years of usage have made them a bit… “offensive” on that front. You turn towards Aria to shoot a snide comment about it, but freeze dead on your tracks.

Shit. You hadn’t expected a sight like this.

“What? You’re giving me the creeps,” Aria growls.

In hindsight, of course the coveralls would be too big for Aria. So, showing some cleverness, she’s left the top part unzipped and instead, wrapped it around her waist using the sleeves. Which, of course, means her upper torso is currently protected by nothing but a sporty tank top.

Baggy, grayish-green coveralls and purple tank top…

Damn.

You hated to admit it, but Aria was looking pretty damn hot in that get-up.

“Wind? Hello? What the heck, don’t just start ignoring me outta nowhere,” Aria asks, waving her hand in front of your face.

You shake yourself out of the stupor.

“Ah, sorry. Okay, good, you’re… you’re dressed up. Now, let’s get to work. Come over here,” you say and scoot over to allow Aria to get a full view of the 455 engine hiding underneath the hood of your Buick.

Her expression is less than impressed.

“Okay, so. There’s an oil leak somewhere here, and we’re trying to find it,” you explain. “The engine itself is a Big-Block one, V8, so keep that in mind. It’s also from the 70’s, so all the horsepower still remains.”

Aria folds her arms and peers at the 455 with tepid interest. Then she looks at you with eyes that seem to announce your idiocy.

“Cool. The problem is, I have no idea what half of this stuff is,” she flatly says.

“… Alright, so we’ll start from the very basics, huh?”

“Yeah. Otherwise this whole farce is meaningless.” She emphasizes her words by rolling her eyes.

After an awkward moment during which you don’t know where to start, you kick open the toolbox next to the car. You fish out a box wrench from inside it and proceed to use it to point out the various parts. Aria leans a bit closer to see better.

You can’t help but to notice her personal fragrance mixing with the telltale smell of engine. To keep your head clear, you clear your throat and begin your explanation.

“Okay, the red mass you see here? That’s the engine proper. The air filter’s on the top, and underneath here, you can see the valve covers.” You round the parts you mention with your wrench. ”And underneath the valve covers are…?”

You leave the question hanging in the air.

Aria scrunches her face at the sight and leans in even closer. After few seconds, her expression clears up.

“They cover the heads, right?” She asks, a bit unsure.

“Exactly. Since we’ve got a V8, there’s two, but usually on straight engines you’ve got only one. In any case, they keep the oil in and the shit out, so they’re pretty crucial,” you answer and tap the cherry red block not far from the valve covers. “That there’s the intake manifold. On top of it sits the carb. This one’s a Q-jet, since with Buicks, you don’t want go less than the stock. No sense in leaving horsepower on the table.”

You turn to look at Aria, only to meet a confused expression. Deep Purple looks at you like you had started speaking in tongues. You sigh and roll your eyes.

“In short, it’s the carburetor. It blends the air and fuel.”

“Oh. Neat,” she comments. Her sneer tells it was anything but neat.

And so it continues. You go over the secrets of GSX with Aria like a second-rate teacher, occasionally throwing in a question or two for her.You explain the parts one-by-one, from the oil pan gasket to the fuel pump. All-in-all, the whole lesson takes a good hour until it’s over...

***

Eventually you were finished.

As you wipe your hands in the old rag in the toolbox, your mind wanders back to Aria. In these three or so weeks, you had taken time to more or less teach all of the Dazzlings about something.

However, who caught you off guard the most had to be Deep Purple.

Unlike Adagio and Sonata, her learning curve was shockingly… normal. Sure enough, she knew the names and purposes of some parts, but other than, she was just like any high school girl.

“I picked up some stuff by listening to your uncle, you know?” Aria breaks the silence, catching your attention. ”He occasionally explained stuff while I helped him take apart some of the junkers here. I guess some of it stuck.”

Huh. That explains that, then.

As you stand back up, Aria glances at the innards of the GSX and frowns slightly.

“So? You have any idea what’s causing the leak?” she asks.

You scratch your chin and think for a moment. During your lesson, you also paid attention to the state of engine. Only one thing really stood out to you.

“Well… one, I suppose. It might be the oil cooler,” you say tentatively. “If the hoses are cracked and have lost their clips, they might be banging on the under-hood components.”

To your surprise, Aria nods as if he understood what you said.

“I’ll need to remove the filter to get to it, though. While I do that, can you get me replacements from the garage?” you ask from her. “They should be on the top shelf. Oh, and get me some 5W30 while you’re it. We can top up the Buick afterwards.”

“Right. Top shelf. Gotcha.”

With no grumbling whatsoever, Aria heads to the garage. This was a new development, to say the least. You scratch your head and look after her receding back, wondering what caused the change. Did she get that absorbed into the work that she had completely forgotten to hate you?

You can’t say you dislike this new attitude.

As you watch Aria walk over to the garage, you also notice something else. Mainly the fact that in those tied up coveralls, her ass is quite pronounced. It swings hypnotically from side to side like some sort of alluring pendulum. You turn your gaze away before you are spotted.

Damn. You had not expected that.

It’s not like the Dazzlings were unattractive girls or anything. You just hadn’t really thought about that stuff in a while. But now… you couldn’t get the mental image of Aria’s swinging derrière out of your mind.

Shit. Head in the game, Wind. Head in the game.

While Aria fetches the parts and the oil you asked, you busy yourself with removing the oil filter and the cooler. You’re just about finished when she comes back. Like you had suspected, this turned out to be the culprit for the leaking. The gasket in the main housing has disintegrated, so the only choice ends up being replacing the whole assembly.

However, instead of just getting to the job yourself, you hand Aria an open end wrench.

“… The hell am I supposed to do with this?” She doesn’t look too happy about this development.

“Well, I did talk about paying you. Want to actually earn that money?” You ask.

For a few seconds, the girl just stares at you with a surprised look. But then, unexpectedly, her expression turns into a hint of a smile.

“Fair enough. Just show me what to do… ‘Boss’,” she says.

And the surprises just keep on coming.It was like you were with a completely different girl compared to the one who had interrupted your jam session with Sonata.

Could it be?

Was the reason the fact that now both you were actually working with something? Instead of doing something Aria considered “frivolous”? What you wouldn’t have given for just a quick peek under those twintails to see what was going on.

About hour and a half later, the two of you were finished.

Despite Aria fumbling here and there, with your instructions she turned out to do a pretty damn good job. With the new filter and a cooler, the oil leaks seemed to have stopped. Thus you put down the hood so you two could sit on it and catch one of the last times this year the sun was shining with this much force.

The surface of the car stored the heat wonderfully.

While Aria sits down, you squat over the cooler box and fished out two beers, offering one to her.

“Want one?”

After a bit of contemplation, she shrugs.

“Sure, why not? I was getting a bit thirsty,” she answers.

As you sit down as well and open your beer, you can hear that the song coming from the speakers has changed once again. This time it was goddamn Blaine Larsen. Uncle Bobby had hell of a taste in music, it seems.

The silence between you two grows longer and longer, broken only occasionally as you took swigs from your bottles.

Suddenly, you remember something.

You rummage through the pocket of your jacket and pull out your wallet. After some counting, you hand Aria a wad of twenties. She does not take it, but instead, looks at you, suspicious.

“That’s way more worth than what I did,” she grunts. “I don’t want your damn charity, Wind.”

Her words are harsh, but you still push the money in her hands.

“Then take it as a payment for talking with me. This silence is just depressing,” you say and give her a lopsided grin.

Aria frowns, but takes the bills.

“… Fine. So, what do you want to talk about?”

You ponder for a moment before opening your mouth.

“You know, I know you don’t like it, but… don’t call what Sonata and Adagio are doing ‘something meaningless’,” you finally say. “They’re not just messing around.”

Instead of answering, Aria takes a sip from her beer, so you continue.

“Adagio told me you guys were serious about music before, but you ended up getting burned. And sure, I can understand that turning you off for the whole thing, but… it’s not the music’s fault, Aria,” You say and stare into the brown glass bottle. “Music’s just a way. It all depends on what you do with it. You might stumble and you might fall, but hey, that’s life in general.”

You take a swig of your own, letting Aria mull over your words. However, you soon notice that the girl next to you is shaking oddly.

“That’s… life…?” Aria nearly growls.

Crap.

She’s grinding her teeth together. In fact, she looks seriously pissed off right now.

“That’s life!?”

Before you can react, Aria yells at you and jumps up from the car’s hood. She marches in front of you and thrust your chest with her index finger, forcing you to lean back. Her face is twisted by anger, and she looks just about ready to smash your face in with her bottle.

“The hell kinda life is that!? We didn’t just stumble, we crashed and lost everything!” Aria screams. “Because of Adagio’s idiocy we’re stuck in this gods-forsaken place with no way home!”

It’s like the floodgates have finally been opened. Looking nigh maniacal, Aria continues to yell so that the whole salvage yard echoes with her voice.

“I hate this place! I hate every damn day here, knowing I’ll never see my home! And the fact that I’m the only one who seems to give rat’s ass about it makes it even worse!” She shouts, her breathing ragged. It looks like she’s snarling. “So don’t you dare to sweep it under just ‘that’s life’!”

You can only stare at the girl in front of you.

You had no idea what sort of effect your words could have. Gone was the cozy atmosphere you two had just shared. Instead, the air at the salvage yard felt raw and numb like torn flesh.

“Aria, I—“

Suddenly, Aria’s left hand catches you by the collar. Her right hand lashes out before you can even react to it. Stinging sensation overtakes your cheek, and a cracking sound fills your ears.

Huh. It’s been awhile since you felt that.

Being slapped by a girl… it never felt good.

“And you…! You’re the worst of all!” She hisses, her voice full of venom. “You think you can just waltz into our lives, talk all kinds of bullcrap and everything will be alright!?”

Her anger now has a focus point. Full brunt of it is thrown against you by her accusing glare as she towers above you.

“What the hell do you know!? You couldn’t possibly understand what we’re going through! And yet you continue filling Sonata’s and Adagio’s head with vague pipe dreams!” She screams, looking ready to hit you again.

Her words have a point, and that point is driven deep into you. Despite screaming like a crazed accuser, you know there’s truth in what she says. You don’t know about what the Dazzlings are going through. You’re just an outsider who got mixed up with them somehow. Despite how you like to think you don’t want to stick your nose into other people’s businesses, you went and did it anyhow.

And now you’re paying the price.

“But I won’t falter. I’ll never fall prey to your self-help crap. I’ll just do everything by myself again, and drag those delusional idiots with me if I have to!” Aria adds, her shoulders heaving up an own.

This close, only few inches from her face, you can see it. Tears are starting to form in the corners of her eyes. Tears of frustration. Aria herself neither realizes nor cares about it.

“So just stay the hell away from our lives.”

Aria finally lets go of you, and you slump against the hood of your car.

She takes few staggering steps away from you, turning her back. From the sound if it, she’s trying to hold back her voice from wavering. Stifled sniffs tell their tale. It’s so pitiful sound that you have no heart to get back up immediately. She deserves her privacy right now.

As you stare up into the blue sky, your mind races.

Hearing that frustration in Aria’s voice has made you think back to the times you talked with the other two. Sonata’s guilt. Adagio’s responsibility. And now, Aria’s anger. They’ve all been wounded by their experience in some way. Despite the smiles you’ve seen, none of them is actually okay. You can only imagine how much each of them is hurting inside.

Hurting, yet not sharing that pain with anyone.

They just cradle it deep within them, hoping it’ll go away some day. But whereas Sonata and Adagio are now trying to heal those wounds, no matter how slowly, Aria…

… Aria simply wallows in her torment. Unable to let go, unable to escape.

It’s just like she had said to you. If nobody helps her, she’ll just do it all alone. No matter how big the burden on those tiny shoulders of hers.

You slowly get back up, placing your hands onto the hood of your car. It feels smooth and perfect to the touch now, but you can still find the spot. It was more of a crater than a dent. Not only that, but you can still vividly remember that horrible sound when you—

“Aria.”

Before you know it, you have called out to her back. She doesn’t turn to look at you, but at least she stops. You think about your words carefully before you continue talking.

“You’re right, I don’t know much about you guys. I know I’ve just gotten involved with you all without even asking. Believe me, it wasn’t my plan,” you say. “I didn’t intend to drag you back into the world of music. Things just… sorta happened that way.”

She does not look satisfied at all.

Her shoulders are still slightly shaking. Whether out of anger or out of sorrow, you can’t tell. So, you press on.

“But… I just want to ask one thing from you, Aria,” you speak softly, as if trying to calm down a wounded animal.

Her head lifts ever so slightly. You take this as a sign, and look straight at her.

“How do you get that lonely?”

Finally, Aria turns to look at you.

Her eyes are slightly red from crying, and her expression is still marred by anger. But now you see something else in it.

Shock.

“It’s like you said. I have no idea what you guys are going through. But… you know, I’ve made my own fair share of mistakes.” You glance at the car, and the spot where that scar no longer was. “And I’ve paid for them, just like everyone does. But that’s just it. We can’t avoid mistakes. We all do them, and we all keep on doing them until we kick the bucket.”

You try to smile at her, but you feel you’re not doing a very good job.

“The only thing we can do is to learn from them,” you say. “And what makes that easier is if we have someone to rely on. Struggling alone is… it’s just not worth it.”

You take a single, careful step towards Aria, hoping she doesn’t retreat further. Your hopes are answered, and she stays still. However, she’s looking suspicious, nonetheless.

“I’ve talked with both Adagio and Sonata. And I can tell you, they both feel just as you do. They’re just doing their best to turn this situation in better direction, in their own ways,” you continue, doing your best to sound calm.

Another step. Another shiver from Aria.

“So you shouldn’t just dismiss their attempts and shun them. They hurt just as bad as you do.”

After few quiet seconds, Aria finally speaks back. Her words are barely a mumble, but you can still hear them.

“Then… why won’t they help me?” She whispers.

“Because they, too, think they’re alone in this,” you answer. “You need to talk with them, Aria. You need to make the situation clear.”

You’re now standing right next to Aria. She looks up to you. The expression on her face is so vulnerable you feel a tinge of pain in your chest.

“You think they’d understand?” She finally asks.

You nod encouragingly and carefully place your hand on her tiny shoulder. She doesn’t shy away from it, and instead, leans a bit against it.

“Of course they will. They’re your family, right?”

Aria repeats the word silently: ”Family.”

The trio you have gotten so close to during these weeks seems not to understand this simple fact. Maybe it’s because of what Sonata said: Because they were horrible people before. But even horrible people have families.

And it’s time these three realized who theirs was.

“If it’s hard for you, I can help. But I can’t be the one to explain it,” you say to her. “That’s the job of you three. An outsider like me has no right to step in on that.”

You squeeze her shoulder gently, hoping to give her some strength. She might not have liked you that much…

… But you couldn’t leave a bunch of broken people like these alone either.

They deserved better than that. Damn all who said otherwise. Blame and punishment were concepts of those not involved in the least.

Seconds pass and turn into a minute or more. Only the sound of the song from the speakers breaks the silence.

However, Aria is shaking no more. She slowly wipes her eyes and draws a deep breath. Then, without warning, she slaps herself on the cheek. You’re quite taken aback by the sight. But when the girl looks at you, you see something new in her eyes.

Determination.

“Wind.” Aria murmurs.

“Yeah?” You smile at her, managing to be genuine this time.

“Now that your car’s fixed… could you give me a ride?” She asks, rubbing the back of her neck.

You nod and remove your hand from her shoulder.

“Sure. Where to?”

A small, yet somewhat nervous, smile plays on Aria’s lips.

“The school,” she answers. “I need to have good, long talk with Adagio and Sonata.”

You were North Wind. Cigarettes and coffee no longer mattered to you.

After all, you had three friends whom you wanted to help reconcile with each other.