• Published 28th Apr 2017
  • 5,414 Views, 650 Comments

Neighbors - Tethered-Angel



A familiar face moves into the sirens' apartment building.

  • ...
9
 650
 5,414

Chapter 12- The Sweet Shoppe

“Aww, do you have to go?” Sonata pouted “It’s Saturday, and you’ve been working extra all week!”

Adagio sighed, running a comb through her hair. If only she was so lucky. “Sorry, Nata, I don’t have a choice. I’ve got things I have to do.”

“Yeah,” Aria said with a bitter scowl, “Don’t wanna piss off that boss of yours. I swear that bastard is just looking for an excuse to fire you.”

Adagio flinched. The comment hit a little too close to the mark. “Yeah…” She cleared her throat, setting the brush aside and throwing a few loose hairs in the trash. “A-anyway, I’d better be going.”

“I just don’t get it,” Aria continued, leaning on the counter, “Why do you put up with that? If I were you, I’d rip his dick off.”

“Well, you’re not me,” Adagio snapped, “I’m trying to keep us off the streets, and I can’t very well do that if I get fired from my job, can I?” She cried, her voice breaking.

“Jeez, Dagi, lighten up,” Aria frowned, shooting her sister a concerned look. “You have something you wanna tell us?”

“No!” Adagio snapped, grabbing the door handle and throwing it open. “I have to go.” The door slammed behind her.

Sonata turned to Aria with a scowl. “What the frik was that, Ari?”

“What!?” Aria shot back, “What are you blaming me for?”

“You two have been like this all week! I know you had an argument because she didn’t answer your phone call, but I thought you two made up! She even brought pizza!” Sonata ranted. She began pacing the apartment, throwing her hands around to emphasize each point. “But you two have been acting so mean to each other ever since! You barely talk to each other, and when you do you always start bickering and I’m sick of it!”

“Well she started it this time!” Aria shouted back, “I didn’t even say anything, she just got mad!”

“And you kept pushing her!” Sonata growled. “Take your own advice and get over it!

Aria flicked her hand dismissively. “Gods damn, Sonata, chill out. It’s no big deal.”

“It is a big deal!” Sonata countered, “You’re both just too stubborn, a-and stupid to admit it!”

“Don’t call me stupid!”

“Well, you are!”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

Aria slammed her hand onto the counter. “Screw this, Sonata. I’m out.” She shoved her plate out of the way and made for the door, grabbing her jacket off the hook.

“W-wait, Ari!” Sonata protested, “Where are you going?”

“AJ’s.” her sister growled back. “Don’t wait up.”

A moment later, and the door slammed a second time.

==O==

Adagio felt herself relax noticeably as she stepped off the bus to Rarity’s street. Her place had become a kind of sanctuary over the last week or so, a safe place between her quarrels with Aria and the stress of job hunting. Rarity had allowed her to keep the spare key and given her permission to stop by whenever she needed a break. Her parents were in Manehattan on business for the time being, so Adagio had the place to herself whenever the girls were at school.

She had taken to stopping by first thing in the mornings before looking for work, as well as after she had finished in the evening, in order to give herself some separation between home and work. It would not do to face a potential employer while still seething over an argument with her sisters, and likewise she did not want to bring the frustrations of the day back to exacerbate the situation at home. She had become very grateful to Rarity on the occasions they ran into each other in the evenings. The girl was always willing to lend a sympathetic ear to Adagio’s venting.

Upon reaching the front door, the siren was surprised to find the bolt already unlocked. “Ah, right,” She said to herself, returning the key to her purse with a small smile, “Saturday.”

“Good morning, darling!” Rarity called from the living room when she heard the door open. “How are you today?”

“As well as can be expected,” Adagio admitted, slipping off her shoes. She stepped into the room to find the girl lounging on one of the couches, sipping a cup of coffee.

She gave the siren a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry, darling, I know it’s been tough. But just hang in there, I know things will be better for you.”

“Thank you, Rarity,” Adagio said, returning the gesture. She nodded toward Rarity’s mug. “Is there any more?”

“I just made a fresh pot,” Rarity nodded, “I know how you like it in the mornings.”

Adagio chuckled, shaking her head. “I’ll never know why you humans decided that it was a good idea to get up before dawn.”

“Don’t you ‘you humans’ me, darling. You and your sisters have been humans longer than any of us.” Rarity teased.

“Only in name.” Adagio answered from the kitchen. She retrieved a plain mug from the cabinet and poured herself a generous helping of the bitter ambrosia. “Even then, I’d say we’re still more than human. Scholars and poets alike have marveled at our divine beauty for ages. Have you ever seen a mere human as gorgeous as I am?”

“Only every time I look in the mirror,” Rarity sniped back good-naturedly, causing them both to laugh. Adagio grabbed her mug and took the seat across from her. “So,” Rarity continued, “How is the search going?”

Adagio grimaced. “Not so well. I figured out on day two that the newspaper would be all but useless. There are only a few new ads each day, and most of them are above my skill set. I’ve gotten one or two calls back, but only to inform me that the position had been filled.” She sighed. “I had to change my strategy and just start going door to door, any place with a ‘help wanted’ or ‘now hiring’ sign. I’ve had a handful of interviews, but nothing promising.”

Rarity nodded. “Canterlot has an impressive job turnover, but the downside to that is that positions also get filled quickly. Sweetie and her friends spent the whole summer looking for work but weren’t able to find anything until the week before school started, and by then they had to deal with classes and homework.”

“Yes,” Adagio said dejectedly. “I’m half considering trying one of the gentleman’s clubs on the other side of town. Sonata got me to try pole dancing once, and it was kind of fun. Barring that, I’m sure I could find someone willing to pay for something a bit… more… exotic? Rarity, are you alright?”

The pale girl had begun fanning herself violently, her normally white cheeks flushed a bright red. “N-nothing to worry about darling!” She stammered, “It’s just a bit hot in here!”

Adagio gave her a crooked look. The house actually felt a bit chilly by her standards, and she was still wearing a light jacket.

“A-anyway,” Rarity continued, managing to regain her composure somewhat, despite the stutter. “I h-hardly think you need to go t-that far. I’m sure something will pop up before then.”

“Maybe,” Adagio shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind it, but the hours would be kind of a problem. Plus, I don’t think I want that kind of attention.”

“Right!” Rarity eagerly agreed, “A lady shouldn’t expose herself like that!”

“Hmm?” Adagio looked at her bemusedly, “What, it’s just a bit of teasing. I just meant that places like that sometimes have trouble with police, and I’d rather avoid that given my rather… tenuous living arrangements.”

“O-oh…” Rarity said, looking a bit downcast. “I see. S-so you don’t have any compunctions about showing off your body to complete strangers? Shouldn’t that be something you only do with someone you’re interested in?”

Adagio chuckled. “I won’t take just anybody to bed, Rarity. But with the right assets, showing a little skin can be just as effective as mind control.” On most people, she grumbled bitterly to herself. Paper Cut’s smug face briefly flashed across her mind.

“I’m sorry, Adagio, I didn’t mean to imply anything,” Rarity said.

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for, Rarity, I get it.” Adagio said. “Heh, maybe you could talk to Sonata though. When she gets it in her mind, well, let’s just say she isn’t quite so discerning who she takes to bed.”

Adagio!” Rarity said, aghast, “Your sister is an angel, how could you talk about her that way?”

Adagio smirked. “That’s how she gets you. I told you, she was the one who got me into that dance class. She’s a sly one when she wants to be. You’d better keep an eye on Fluttershy.” She chuckled.

“Oh my…” Rarity said, her blush from before returning.

Suddenly Adagio’s phone chimed, and she pulled it out. Grimacing, she noticed the time. “Shit. Ahem, sorry dear, but I really ought to get started. I’ve got a long day ahead.”

“Oh, right,” Rarity said, looking a bit downcast, “Don’t let me keep you.”

Adagio waved as she headed out, dropping her mug off by the sink. “Thanks for the coffee. I don’t suppose you’ll be around later, will you?”

“Actually, yes. It seems most of the girls are busy this weekend with one thing or another, and I have a couple of dresses I really must work on myself.”

“Excellent,” Adagio said with a smile, “I’ll see you later then.”

“See you later,” Rarity said, returning the smile.

==O==

Adagio groaned pitifully into her muffin as she scanned the day’s want ads. She had already been walking for several hours, with predictably poor results, and was in need of a break. As had become habit, she found a newspaper stand and picked up a copy before finding a place for lunch, avoiding any that might be hiring. She did not want to risk doing anything that might make a bad impression on prospective employers.

Today she had selected a trendy little bakery-turned-café on the corner of Fourth Street. She had never been there before, but it seemed like a nice place. Clean, with a welcoming atmosphere, although the menu did lean more toward sweets than she preferred. The pecan muffin she ordered was about the healthiest thing they sold. Still, the prices were palatable, and the coffee was excellent, even black.

Wistfully, Adagio thought that it might be a nice place to work, had they been hiring. The mildly overweight, pink haired woman at the counter had been quite friendly, and as far as Adagio could tell she ran the place. Someone like that would have been a far cry from her previous boss, and it would have been nice to work for someone who was not constantly trying to undermine her. But that may well have just been good customer service. A lot of the people she encountered on her hunt had turned out to have two very different faces between what they showed their customers versus their employees.

Besides, she made it a rule not to apply to any place that was not explicitly hiring. There was no point in making a spectacle of herself, and potentially burning bridges down the line. With a sigh, she returned her attention to the newspaper. Even if most of the ads were reruns, there was the slight possibility that something new would pop up.

At least she could still afford lunch, as modest as it was. She could not avoid breakfast, as her sisters would have worried, but stress and frugality had caused her to skip supper almost every night. She just had not felt like eating much. Her stomach rumbled, as if to contradict her, and she looked longingly at the now-empty muffin wrapper. She could not bring herself to buy a second. She would have to make do with the last of her coffee.

Back in the old days, the question of money had never really been an issue. Granted, some times were spent more luxuriously than others, but they had never really wanted for anything. Even when things were at their worst and they found themselves fleeing or on the road, at least they had their magic. For all the pain it caused them, it also provided for them and met their needs.

Adagio scoffed at herself. She was romanticizing the past, and she knew it. They may not have wanted for food in the traditional sense, but they had still been starving. No amount of gold or wine would ever change that. Still, it was the present that she had to be concerned with. Maybe it was finally time to try and find another husband. The thought made her shudder.

“Hiya!”

“AAAAUGH!” Adagio screamed. “Sonata don’t do that!” She whirled to glare at the intruder, only instead of the blue face and ponytail she was expecting she was met with a wide grin and mass of curly pink hair. “Oh, Miss Pie. I thought you were my sister. What are you doing here?”

“I work here, silly!” The pink one replied cheerily.

“O-oh,” Adagio stuttered, blushing furiously. She noticed that she was wearing a frilly white apron over a baby blue dress, both embroidered with the logo for the bakery. “I suppose I should be going,” She continued, standing and collecting her paper.

Pinkie tilted her head curiously. “Why?”

“Because I’ve got… things… to do, and I don’t want to bother you at work.”

“Don’t be a silly Billy goat!” Pinkie giggled, “You’re the customer, it’s not a bother.”

“Ah, um right,” Adagio said. “Of course.”

“So whatcha doing?” Pinkie asked, “Why the frown, what’s gotcha down?”

“What? Nothing is wrong, why would you ask?” Adagio responded, chuckling unconvincingly. She had to get out of there, fast.

Pinkie grinned knowingly. In a whirl, she herded Adagio back into her seat and slid into the booth across from her. “Don’t try to fool your Auntie Pinkie Pie! You can tell me all about it.”

“I am significantly older than you,” Adagio said, feeling the onset of a headache.

Pinkie giggled. “That’s what Fluttershy always says, even though it’s just by a year.”

“Well, it’s a bit more than that for me,” Adagio answered flatly.

“Sooo,” Pinkie said, ignoring the siren’s retort, “You’re looking for a job, huh?”

Shoving the paper into her purse, Adagio glanced around furtively before fixing the pink girl with a glare. “What makes you think I’m looking for a job?”

“Weeell, I’m here almost every day after school, and I’ve seen you around town a few times when you’d probably normally be working, so I figured you quit your boring job and decided to find your true calling in life, and I saw you with the classified ads just now so you’re obviously looking for work.” She grinned.

“What is with you girls and your weird circular logic?” Adagio grumbled. “Fine, I admit it, but don’t you dare go spreading this around.”

Sitting up straight, Pinkie saluted smartly. “Pinkie promise. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!” She swore, doing a bizarre set of motions that left Adagio utterly baffled. “Losing a friend’s trust is the surest way to lose a friend. I won’t tell a single soul!”

“Right…” Adagio said, feeling a bit dizzy from the girl’s energy. “Fine, whatever, don’t you have to tend the other tables at least?”

Pinkie glanced around to the nearly empty restaurant. “Nope, we’re usually only busy in the mornings and late afternoons. It’s only two now, so Mrs. Cake doesn’t mind me talking to friends if there’s no customers or baking to do.”

“I… see.” Adagio said. “Well, I suppose having a solid rapport with your customer base is important.”

“Yupperoni!” She suddenly gasped, “Hey, you need a job, why don’t you apply here?”

Adagio gave her a look. “They aren’t hiring,” She said, motioning to the blank windows. “No sign.”

“Well, that’s just silly, it never hurts to ask.”

“I beg to differ. Annoying someone you want to hire you is a sure way not to get the job.”

“Psh!” Pinkie huffed, “The Cakes are great, they never get annoyed with me! I’ll go ask now!”

“Pinkie, wait!” Adagio cried, before slumping in her booth. The girl was already gone. “Well, I guess this is happening now,” She sighed. Checking her reflection in the side of the napkin dispenser, she ran a hand through her curly hair and straightened her blouse. Everything was happening so fast, but she could not afford not to make a good first impression. She hoped her breath smelled alright, she had just been drinking coffee and did not want to be chewing gum during a talk with a prospective employer.

“Hello dearie,” Said a familiar voice, making Adagio jump for the second time that day. She realized that she had been right, it was the woman from the register. The siren desperately hoped she had not done anything stupid or rude when ordering.

Scrambling to get out of the booth, Adagio straightened her skirt as subtly as possible before extending a hand to the woman. “H-hi, I’m Ang- ahem, my name is Adagio,” She said, forcing what she hoped was a sincere-looking smile. She had planned to use an alias as she usually did, but it would have been pointless with Pinkie Pie working there and she did not want to be caught lying before she even got hired.

Returning the false smile with a truly genuine one of her own, the older-looking woman took the siren’s hand and gave it a gentle shake. “Nice to meetcha. I’m Mrs. Cake, but my friends call me Cupcake.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” Adagio replied, not entirely sure if that was an invitation to use the nickname or not. She decided to tuck it away for later until she could see how Pinkie addressed her, assuming she got the job. Straightening up into a more confident posture, Adagio gave the woman a quick once-over. As she had noticed before, she was just a little overweight, likely due to a lifetime of working around candies and sweets. Her eyes showed with a friendly sparkle, and her smile lit up her whole face. All in all, she looked like the picture of honest sincerity. Adagio decided to be wary of her in the future.

“Why don’t we take a seat?” The woman suggested, sliding into the booth opposite of where Adagio had been sitting. Adagio complied, once again regaining her seat on the other side of the table. “Now, if you don’t mind my asking, what made you want to apply to Sugar Cube Corner?”

“I was not actually aware that you were hiring,” Adagio admitted, “I’ve been looking for work in the area, and I came in here to take a break and check the job listings in the newspaper. Pinkie Pie is an… acquaintance, and she figured out that I was looking for work, and offered to put in a good word for me. Admittedly, she ran off without waiting for my consent, but I do appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.”

Mrs. Cake smiled. “Always a pleasure to meet a well-mannered young lady like yourself. While it’s true we aren’t particularly looking for anyone at the moment, the place is always busy and we could use an extra pair of hands. So, how did you and Pinkie meet?”

“Well, I suppose we met at CHS, although we did not really get acquainted until after I left.” The siren said. It was mostly true.

“Oh, you’re graduated then? Any work experience to speak of?” Mrs. Cake inquired.

“A little bit of this and that, mostly in customer service and… entertainment. I’m afraid I would not be able to provide a proper resume at the moment though. I did not exactly leave my last job under the best of terms.”

“I see,” Mrs. Cake said, allowing a bit of sternness to seep into her voice. “Would you care to elaborate further?”

“Umm,” Adagio tapped her forefingers together, “I’m not sure how much is appropriate to share. If I told you who I worked for and the complaints were linked back to me somehow, I suspect I could get in trouble. But I can say that the place I worked for began increasing my quotas, and I was unable to keep up. I managed for a while, thanks to near-constant overtime, but my boss did not approve. We had words, and I was asked to leave.” She smiled ruefully. “I know that sounds a bit biased.”

“Perhaps,” Mrs. Cake said with a small smile, “But I can’t blame you. Most kids your age would lie through their teeth before admitting they did whatever got them fired. But you own up to your mistakes, and you sound like a dedicated worker. I suppose I can give you a shot. Especially if Pinkie recommends you.”

“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” Adagio smiled back. Then her face fell. “Oh, um, I probably should have said this sooner though… I don’t really know how to bake.”

Mrs. Cake chuckled. “That’s quite alright, dearie, my husband and I do most of the baking before the shop even opens in the morning. What we really need is someone to help Pinkie out in the afternoons. It’s long hours running a bakery, don’cha know, and with the twins, my husband and I get a bit exhausted later in the day. Pinkie’s been a lifesaver, but we could really use another set of hands.”

Adagio smiled, it lined up perfectly with her previous schedule, although the hours would probably be shorter. “That sounds perfect. Thank you.”

“Well now, let’s go get your uniform sorted and work out a schedule, what do you say?”

“Yes ma’am,” Adagio complied.

==O==

The chatter of a sewing machine greeted Adagio upon her return to Rarity’s. The sound came from the back office, which the fashionista had coopted into her own personal workspace. Adagio had been invited into the room once or twice, and the only suitable description was organized chaos. It was definitely the room of an artist.

The siren grinned. If Rarity was there, that meant she would be distracted. Adagio had an idea to surprise her with the good news.

Closing the front door quietly behind her, Adagio slid off her shoes and tiptoed upstairs to the guest bedroom that Rarity had given her to use. Under her arm was a brown paper bag bearing the logo of Sugar Cube Corner. Tossing the bag on the bed, she closed the door behind her and slipped off her blouse and skirt, folding them carefully on the bed. Then she retrieved the bag and removed the bundle of baby blue cloth that was her new uniform. Carefully holding her hair out of the way, she slid into the dress and buttoned it up the back before tying the loose ties of the attached apron.

Grinning, she did a little pirouette in the mirror. The thigh-length skirt flared out a little before falling back against her legs. The light blue complimented her golden skin, and the cutesy, puffy style went well with her mass of curly hair. The frilly white apron fell down the front, matching the white stockings she wore. It fit her rather well, all things told, although it leaned far more toward cutesy than she would have liked. Glancing down, she realized that her sleek black heels really did not match the rest of the outfit. She would definitely need to try something else. She had noticed that Pinkie simply wore her sneakers, but Adagio had always preferred more interesting footwear. Maybe a pair of blue platform heels to match the dress. She decided to ask Rarity if she had some she could borrow.

As much as Adagio preferred to be seen as dangerous and sexy, she had to admit that the outfit had a certain appeal. She had to admit that Pinkie at least had looked rather adorable in it. It might be a little embarrassing, but Adagio was sure she could work with it. She just had to channel Sonata. A cute smile and little giggle and she would be earning a queen’s wage in tips… assuming that was still a thing. She was honestly a little unclear about how gratuity worked anymore.

Taking one last look in the mirror, Adagio made sure to fluff up her hair as much as possible to maximize the effect. Then she headed back downstairs toward Rarity’s workstation, where the sewing machine still had yet to cease its endless prattle. Leaning against the doorframe, Adagio looked in on the girl, who was totally engrossed in her work and had yet to notice the siren. She was hunched over a bolt of scarlet fabric, fashioning it into the bell-like shape of a skirt. A pair of ruby horn-rimmed glasses perched precariously on her nose, and her tongue stuck out the side of her mouth in concentration. Adagio smiled, taking in the sight. The girl had a certain radiance about her when she got lost in her work that she found strangely fetching.

Shaking away her distraction, Adagio cleared her throat. “Honey, I’m home!” She said seductively.

“Oh!” Rarity started, looking up from her work. She fixed the siren with a firm glare, but a smirk betrayed her amusement. “Very funny, darling. You look happy-” She gasped. “Oh my, is that what I think it is? Did you find something?” She questioned, eying the uniform excitedly.

Adagio curtsied. “I did, by a stroke of luck.”

Rarity hummed. “That outfit looks familiar. Where have I…” She snapped her fingers. “Pinkie!” Then she frowned, shooting Adagio an inquisitive look. “You took a job at Sugar Cube Corner? I thought you were trying to keep it a secret.”

Adagio shrugged. “Like I said, a stroke of luck. Good or bad remains to be seen. Pinkie said she wouldn’t say anything, but…”

“Did she Pinkie promise?” Rarity asked.

“That weird little ritual with the cupcake?” Adagio asked. “Yeah.”

Rarity smiled. “Then you can be sure your secret is safe with her. She would never break a Pinkie promise, not if she could help it. But there lies the other difficulty. The girls and I patronize that establishment rather often.”

“Ah,” Adagio said, flinching. “I had not considered that. That may be an issue. I suppose I can just hope my luck holds out until I find something better.”

“You could always tell your sisters the truth,” Rarity suggested. “I’m sure it would be much easier on you in the long run.”

Adagio grimaced. “I don’t know. I was planning to tell them when I found something, but I was hoping whatever I found would be comparable to my previous job. This is only part time, and the hourly is a lot less.”

“Things like this have a habit of snowballing, you know.” Rarity chided.

“Believe me, I know,” Adagio chuckled. “Still, I’ll tell them, in my own time.”

Rarity looked unsure, but nodded. “Very well, it’s your choice I suppose. Still, don’t wait too long. I’d hate for you and your sisters to have to deal with hurt feelings.”

“I know, Rarity. I’ll be careful. I always am.” She smirked. “Say, is Sweetie Belle here?”

“No, she’s spending the weekend at the Apple farm.” Rarity answered.

Adagio clapped her hands together. “Excellent. Give me a moment to change, I’m taking you out to eat. I found a great bagel place the other day that I promised myself I’d check out when I had some money.”

“That sounds lovely, darling. I’ll be ready when you are.”