• Published 28th Apr 2017
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Neighbors - Tethered-Angel



A familiar face moves into the sirens' apartment building.

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Chapter 5- Rooftop Sonata

Midnight.

Twelve am.

Long past the time good little Sonatas should be in bed and asleep.

Sonata was not a good little Sonata. She was in bed, but she was anything but asleep. Instead she was wide awake, staring at the ceiling and listening to the low hum of her fan.

Normally she liked going to bed early. That way she could wake up early! She loved seeing the smiles on her sisters’ faces when she made breakfast extra-good for them. But for some reason she just could. Not. Sleep.

Oooooohhh…” She moaned, slamming her head back into her pillow. Throwing off her blankets, she flipped onto her belly, only to flip back to her back a moment later. She grabbed her blankets again, wrapping herself up like a burrito. Then she threw them off, because she was too hot. Then she grabbed them and covered everything but her feet.

No good. She tried flipping her pillow over so she could use the cool side. Nothing. She punched it a few times, Aria-style, to fluff it back up. It helped a little, but not enough.

There was an I-beam running across the ceiling, right over her bed, a reminder that the building she lived in had technically began its life as a warehouse. Deciding that the beam was too close, she rolled off her mattress, onto the carpeted surface of her loft. It did not help much. Now she was basically on the floor, and that was not comfortable at all! Sighing, she sat up and grabbed the beam, using it to lever herself back onto her bed.

At least there was one advantage to having the beam so close to her bed. The bottom lip of it served her well as an impromptu shelf. Reaching up, she shuffled around blindly until she found something soft and squishy. Grinning, she pulled down her fuzzy manatee plush and held it close. Mr. Manatee was always down to cuddle. Aria sometimes made fun of her for having stuffed animals, so Sonata had taken to hiding them just out of sight. Who cared if she was several hundred years old? They were so soft! She stuck out her tongue in the general direction of her sister’s room.

Unfortunately, even Mr. Manatee’s considerable power was unable to free Sonata from the clutches of insomnia. Sighing, she propped him up against her pillow and rolled back to the edge of her loft. Maybe a nice, warm glass of milk would do it. She always heard people on television talk about it, but she had never thought to try it herself. Fumbling for the ladder, she made double sure to wipe the sleep from her eyes before beginning her descent. The first night she used the loft she had gotten up to use the bathroom, only to slip off the ladder and land on her butt. From then on, she always made sure she was wide awake before climbing down in the mornings. And Aria said she never learned!

Fortunately, the stove light was on as always, so she had no trouble making her way down. Unfortunately, she felt more awake than ever. Maybe her plan was not so good after all. But she had a mission! First: warm milk. Next: the world! Or la-la land, whichever came first. She kind of hoped for the second one, honestly.

By the soft light of the stove she managed to make her way over to the refrigerator and pour herself a tall glass of milk. Then she realized she had used a plastic cup and had to search around until she found something more microwave friendly. Finally, she placed the new cup in the microwave and hovered her finger over the timer. She was not reheating coffee, so it did not need to be too hot, but it was also straight out of the fridge, so it would take a little longer. She hummed to herself in indecision before compromising with herself and setting the timer for exactly twenty-seven seconds. Nodding with satisfaction, she pressed the start button.

The milk was still just a little cold when she took it out, so she put it back in for half the time. Unfortunately, she could not exactly do half of twenty-seven on the timer. She waffled between thirteen and fourteen seconds for a little while, then in a stroke of genius settled on fourteen, but she would open the door just before the timer went off. Brilliant!

Thirteen and a half seconds later and her milk was at the perfect temperature. Taking it out and holding it carefully between her hands, she took a small sip. Yummy! She skipped over to the couch, then remembered she was supposed to be tired and fell back into the worn leather cushions. Taking another sip, she glanced toward her sisters’ rooms. It looked like Adagio was asleep, but soft lights flickered from under Aria’s door like always. If she listened carefully, Sonata could pick up the sound of keyboard keys clacking away.

Sonata shrugged. She really did not feel like bothering her sister. Instead she continued to nurse her drink, gradually draining her cup as her eyelids seemed to grow heavy. She could not suppress a yawn as she sank into the soft leather of the couch. The milk worked fast, and she barely had the presence of mind to set the empty glass aside as she began to doze. With a contented sigh her eyelids fluttered shut.

Then they snapped open again. Was that music she heard? It was faint, like it was coming through the wall. Glancing down the hall, she determined that it was too distorted to be coming from either of her sisters’ rooms. So then where? For some reason, the mystery tugged at Sonata’s brain, and she just had to know. A sudden flash of light grabbed her attention, and she whirled toward the window. The roof!

Slipping on her fuzzy pink slippers, she made her way toward the door and opened it slowly, careful not to alert her sisters. She sneaked into the hall, carefully shutting the door behind herself before heading toward the stairs. As she made her way, she considered what could have made the light she saw. Her brain leaped to one singular solution: magic. Why else would she feel such a hypnotic connection to the music she was hearing?

She almost lost the tune as she crept past her neighbor’s door, the loud, obnoxious snoring nearly drowning out the muffled notes. But her siren’s instincts kept her going, pulling her inexorably toward the stairwell. The door squeaked as she opened it, and she flinched as the loud squeal pierced the near-silence of the apartment building. The door swung shut behind her and she began ascending the stairs, one quiet step at a time. The music was getting clearer, but the strange acoustics of the stairwell distorted any lyrics that may have been carried with it. Ignoring the disused third floor she quickly made her way to the roof.

That door opened easily, its hinges recently oiled. When she stepped outside, she blinked. She had never bothered to visit the roof before. She had little time to explore however, as the music once again captured her attention. She turned, looking for the source. When she finally saw it, she gasped.

Sunset Shimmer was standing at the roof’s very edge, fiery hair whipped into a frenzy by a cool autumn wind. Her leather jacket lay discarded on the ground behind her, leaving her outstretched arms totally bare. Sonata totally tuned out the song as she saw her friend step up onto the raised lip of the building. Her blood ran cold and her heart hammered in her chest.

“Don’t do it!” Sonata cried, rushing forward and throwing her arms around Sunset’s waist. She pulled her away with a mighty heave, sending the two of them falling backwards into the hard, unforgiving gravel.

“Ooow,” Sunset groaned, shaking her head in a daze. She turned to her would-be rescuer. “Sonata? What the heck!?”

“You can’t do it!” Sonata cried, tightening her hold on Sunset’s waist. She felt her chest heave as Sunset squirmed in her grip. “You can’t, you have so much to live for! Think of your friends!”

“Sonata!” Sunset gasped, “Sonata, let go, I’m alright!” She breathed in relief as she felt Sonata’s grip loosen, but the siren continued to hold her tightly. “What’s gotten into you?”

“You were gonna jump, I saw it!” Sonata said accusingly.

Sunset froze, then felt herself relax. She found herself giggling, much to Sonata’s confusion. “Sonata, I wasn’t going to jump. There’s a safety rail.”

“O-oh…” Sonata said, finally noticing the rail that circled the roof, barely visible in the relative darkness. She blushed in embarrassment, releasing her grip on Sunset. “S-sorry…”

“Don’t be!” Sunset said, giving Sonata a hug of her own. “I’m lucky to have friends like you looking out for me.”

Sonata gasped, then returned the hug. “You’re not mad?”

“Of course not,” Sunset said. She patted the siren’s back before releasing her. “What are you doing up here this late, anyway?”

Sonata bit her lip. “I heard singing and was curious.” She blinked. “Wait, what were you doing up here?”

It was Sunset’s turn to blush. “Um, sometimes I like to come up here and sing. Especially when I feel like I need to get something off my chest.”

Sonata tilted her head curiously. “What were you singing about?”

Sunset shrugged. “Just a song I wrote after Twilight and the girls saved me from myself. I’ve never shared it with anyone else, but… I really poured my heart into it.”

“Oh…” Sonata said, not entirely sure what to say. “Do you want me to leave?”

“You don’t have to,” Sunset said. “I think I’d like to share it with someone.”

Sonata smiled, then looked around the roof before turning her attention back to Sunset. “Do you… do you think I could sing with you?” She asked contritely.

Sunset blinked. “I guess so, if you want,” She said hesitantly. “You wouldn’t know the words.”

“I can improvise!” Sonata said brightly.

“Oh. Well then sure.” Sunset stood, brushing herself off, then extended a hand to Sonata. The siren took it gratefully and stood next to Sunset. Sunset smiled, then took a step back to give herself space. With one last look at her siren friend, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and began to sing.

“Power,
Was all I desired,
But all that grew inside me,
Was the darkness I acquired.”

Sonata closed her eyes as Sunset sang, taking in the lyrics and feeling them tugging at her soul.

“When I began to fall,
And I lost the path ahead,
That’s when your friendship found me,
And lifted me instead!”

Eyes still closed, Sonata felt herself swaying with the music as the tempo began to pick up. She opened her eyes to find Sunset turned away from her, just as lost in the song as Sonata was. She raised her hand to the sky and clenched her fist, and Sonata found herself doing the same.

“Like a phoenix burning bright in the sky,
I’ll show there’s another side to me you can’t deny!
I may not know what the future holds,
But hear me when I say,
My past does not define me,
My past is not today!”

Sonata stepped forward, taking her place at Sunset’s side. She could practically hear the music, stirring in her siren’s blood. She opened her mouth, and the lyrics seemed to flow out of her like water.

“Your magic,
Was what we believed,
Would be the only thing,
To set us free.”

Sunset turned to her, and they locked eyes as Sonata continued to sing.

“But you stood up to us,
And we thought that we were done,
Aria was angry,
And Dagi was almost gone,”

Sonata felt herself grow warm as the song continued to pour out of her, and she took Sunset’s hand in her own.

“Like a devastated ship lost at sea,
I thought surely that would be the end for me,
I did not know what the future held,
But now I know I’m free,
‘Cause the curse is finally lifted,
My sisters and I are free.”

Feeling that the time was right, Sunset once again joined into the song, and she could feel her magic surrounding herself and the siren, lifting them off the ground as a pair of flaming wings flared from her back. Sonata’s eyes widened in amazement, and she nearly missed the next part, but with Sunset there she could not fail. They opened their mouths and sang together in harmony.

“Like a phoenix burning bright in the sky,
We got a brand-new start, can’t be denied,
We may not know what the future holds,
But hear us when we say,
That our past does not define us,
Our past is not today!”

As the song crested its final verse, the magic around them exploded outward, bathing the roof in a bright flash like a firework before dissipating. The girls gently floated back to the ground, grinning ear to ear.

“That was amazing!” Sonata squealed, hugging Sunset tight.

“You were fantastic!” Sunset cried, excitedly returning the hug. “I’m so happy, I didn’t know you could still sing like that!”

“I’ve been practicing,” Sonata said proudly as the girls parted. “I still don’t sound as good as I used to, but I’m better than I was.”

Sunset nodded. Then she shivered. Crossing her arms she looked around frantically. “Um, Sonata, did you see my coat anywhere when you came up?”

“Sure did!” Sonata said, running over to where she had seen it on her arrival. “Here you go,” She said, handing it back.

“Thanks,” Sunset said, wasting no time sliding back into the warm coat. “I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s freezing up here!”

Sonata giggled. “It’s not that cold yet, is it?”

Sunset smirked, motioning toward the siren’s attire. “Sure, you’re in warm flannel jammies. I’m up here running around in a sleeveless blouse! I’ve gotta face it, Summer is officially over.”

“Aww, I’ll keep you warm, Sunny!” Sonata pressed herself into Sunset’s side, making Sunset chuckle. “See? All toasty!”

“Thanks, ‘Nata,” Sunset said with a chuckle. Sonata squealed at the pet name. They gradually made their way back to the building’s edge, looking over the rail on the building’s street side. Below them, a handful of cars were still on the road, their lights flowing past in a more or less steady stream. Sunset sat down so her legs hung over the street and leaned against the bottom rail of the guard. Sonata plopped down next to her. “Do you really feel that way about losing your magic?”

Sonata nodded, leaning against Sunset’s shoulder. “I was scared at first. I thought I’d never sing again.” She shuddered. “But then I tried practicing, and I found out I really could! And It’s all my own, not some stupid magical thingy.” She looked around as if she expected her sisters to overhear her. “I also enjoy getting to eat real food more often. It’s tasty, and it actually fills me up! No more nasty hunger pangs! Well, except when I forget to eat, but that doesn’t happen much.”

Sunset giggled. “I’m glad. I envy your positivity, though. I have a great group of friends and even managed to find a form of magic here, but even then I can’t help worrying about the future sometimes.”

It was Sonata’s turn to giggle. “I still get super scared sometimes, silly.” She smirked at her accidental alliteration, then continued, “I learned after a thousand years that things usually work out okay in the end. I mean, my sisters and I have been in a ton of bad situations and we’re still here!”

Sunset smiled. “I guess you’re right. Things do tend to work out alright,” She glanced off over the street. “Even here, the magic of harmony seems to look out for us.”

“I don’t know about all that stuff,” Sonata said in good humor, “I just try and keep smiling, no matter what happens.”

“That’s a good goal,” Sunset nodded. “You’re pretty smart, Sonata.”

“Well, duh,” Sonata stuck out her tongue, “How old do you think I am?”

Sunset snickered. “Right now? About two.”

“Hey!” Sonata said, laughing. “Okay, you got me. You’re pretty fun. For a smelly unicorn.”

“Hey, what’s wrong with unicorns?” Sunset said in mock offense.

“They were always so stuffy and boring! ‘Manners’ this and ‘decorum’ that. Kinda like those old human courts Dagi liked to hang out in…”

Sunset chuckled. “Well, I can’t argue that. So what makes me so fun?”

“Well, you tease me, but not because I annoyed you. And you let me sing with you.” Sonata sighed. “I miss singing with my sisters. It’s not as much fun singing alone.”

“Hmm,” Sunset thought, “I may have an idea…”

“Yeah!? What is it?” Sonata asked excitedly.

“Well… let me work out the details, and get back to you, okay? I don’t want to promise something and not deliver.”

“Oh, okay,” Sonata pouted. They sat in silence for a few more minutes, just letting the sounds of the city take over. “Hey, Sunset?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you ever, like, just lose track of time while your singing? Like, it was evening when you started, but then all of a sudden it’s morning?”

Sunset groaned, banging her head against the guard rail. “Tell me you didn’t hear about that.”

Sonata giggled. “Nope, but now I have! Story time!”

“Nooo,” Sunset whined, but she made the mistake of looking over to where Sonata was giving her puppy dog eyes. “Oh, fine. Here goes…”

Author's Note:

This chapter was a lot of fun to write, because it was one of the first ideas I had when deciding to do this series. Originally, it was going to be all the sirens coming up and poking fun at Sunset's weird habit, but I like this better.

That being said, the music video for this song always makes me laugh. I love the song, but I can't help but notice that the song starts as the sun is going down, and ends with the sin rising. She literally spent the whole night on that rooftop. Check it out if you don't believe me.

Also, writing alternate lyrics is not easy. I'm super proud of how it turned out though.