• Published 1st Sep 2019
  • 1,732 Views, 231 Comments

No Longer Living In A Van Down By The River - Peni Parker

Since The Dazzlings agreed to be motivational speakers at CHS they're no longer living in a van down by the river, but the job may make them wish they still were.

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Adagio and Sweetie Belle

“All together, there will be 35 people going on this trip.” Vice-Principal Luna informed Adagio Dazzle from behind her desk. “30 students, you and your sisters, and then Celestia and myself.”

“Doesn’t sound too bad.” Adagio nonchalantly replied.

Right now, Adagio was sitting in Luna’s office listening to the Vice-Principal go over the details for the upcoming school ski trip, the one that Sonata had volunteered all three Dazzlings to help chaperone without consulting either herself or Aria beforehand.

Despite essentially having been roped into chaperoning the ski trip, Adagio was actually looking forward to it. Sure, she’d technically be working the whole time, but at least she’d be working while at a ski resort. Neither she nor her sisters had ever been to a ski resort before, and the more she heard about this trip form Luna the more she found her anticipation of it growing.

There were a few questions the Dazzling had about the whole thing though, questions such as how the school could afford to go on a ski trip, or why they were even doing one in the first place. But those questions weren’t that important to her at the moment. No, right now she was more curious about things like what this ski resort was like and what kind of amenities it provided.

“This is where we will be staying.” Luna continued as she picked up a small brochure on her desk and held it out in front of her, as if sensing the Dazzling’s curiosity about the subject.

Adagio took the brochure from Luna and began to skim it over. The front page showed a picture of the exterior of the resort, a large structure that despite appearing fairly old still seemed to be in pretty good shape. The inside pages showed pictures of even nicer things. Guest rooms that looked more like apartments than hotel rooms, a large, open dining area with a performing stage located at the front of it, and, of course, snowy slopes perfect for skiing.

“This place looks amazing.” She remarked in an almost stunned fashion, the question about how the school could afford the trip now coming to the forefront of her mind.

“Indeed.” Luna concurred as Adagio continued to skim the brochure. “We’re very fortunate that it was able to accommodate us on such short notice, and at such a good rate to boot.”

It was at this point that the Dazzling’s curiosity became too much for her to remain silent.

“If I may ask,” She offhandedly, though somewhat skeptically, started to say as she handed the brochure back to Luna. “Why are we going on this trip? Forgive me if I sound leery, but I just don’t understand the point of it.”

Even though Adagio wasn’t a power-crazed bedlamite anymore, she was still a brilliant strategist and tactician. Which meant that when she didn’t understand something, especially one’s reasons for doing something, she had a strong desire to understand it, even if she had to be as blunt as a baseball bat in the process.

“I understand your inquiry, Adagio.” Luna perceptively replied as she took the brochure back and re-placed it on her desk. “This was, after all, a rather sudden decision by my sister and myself. But in answer to your question, we’re doing this in the hopes of creating fond memories for the students.”

Adagio silently raised a single eyebrow of confusion in response to Luna’s answer.

“We’ve had great success with this in attending Camp Everfree.” Luna continued, picking up on the Dazzling’s confusion. “And we’re hoping to create even more good memories of high school for the students with this trip as well.”

And just like that, as if a lightbulb had been turned on her mind, Adagio felt she now understood.

Translation: She thought to herself. The more happy memories of high school the students have, the more likely they are to donate money to the school once they’re alumni.

“Ah, how nice.” She simply replied aloud, trying to sound as sincere as possible.

Just as Luna was about to say something in response, her eyes caught the clock on the wall behind Adagio and she gave a very visible look of surprise as she realized what time it was.

“If you’ll excuse me, I have an important meeting to attend with my sister.” The vice-principal quickly said as she stood up and hastily gathered her things. “Thank you for your time, Adagio. Please be sure share everything I’ve told you about the ski trip with your sisters.”

Before Adagio could get so much as a ‘Sure’ out, Luna was already gone, leaving the Dazzling alone in her office. Perplexed by the vice-principal’s sudden and unexpected departure, Adagio just quietly sat and stared at the doorway for a few seconds with a bewildered expression on her face.

“Okay then, good talk.” She eventually said to herself, doing her best Jim Halpert impression, as she stood up and made her way out into the hall.

As Adagio entered the hallway and walked down it towards her office, she found it suspiciously quiet. She knew that she’d been in Luna’s office for a while and that it was already the end of the school day, but the lack of bustling students collecting their belongings from their lockers and heading home puzzled her. Wondering just what time it actually was, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and looked at the clock on her lock screen.

“3:30?!” She said aloud in fiery astonishment. “For crying out loud, how were we in their for over an hour?”

The Dazzling vehemently put her phone back into her pocket and continued to make her way towards her office, though more stomping than simply walking now. She didn’t like being at school longer then was necessary. It wasn’t that she hated the school or her job or anything like that, it’s just that she didn’t like staying late if she wasn’t going to be paid extra for it. Which, since her motivational speaker position was salaried, she wasn’t.

“Honestly, Luna, you couldn’t have talked to me about the damn ski trip at lunchtime?” She begrudgingly muttered under her breath just as she came up to the music room. “Just because you and Celestia practically live here doesn’t mean the rest of us…”

“Ah ah ah ah ~”

The sound of a small voice singing slightly off key from the music room made Adagio stop dead in her tracks. She didn’t recognize the voice, but there was no denying that it was a beautiful voice and that she was curious as to who it belonged to. Wanting to sate her curiosity, she slowly made her way towards the music room door when she heard a second voice speak up.

“Better, Sweetie.”

This one she did recognize. It was Rarity’s voice.

Once Adagio was right up against the door she found that it was already slightly ajar. Not wanting to barge in on whatever it was Rarity and this other person were doing, or risk being caught snooping by peering inside, she simply decided to stand outside and listen. She did feel a little bad about eavesdropping, but her curiosity about who the beautiful singing voice belonged to was too great for her to ignore.

“Better, but still not good enough, right?” The strange voice despondently said.

“W-Well...” Rarity hesitantly began to reply.

“You don’t need to say it, Rarity, I already know the answer.” The stranger spoke up, sounding even more despondent than before. “I just wish I knew what it was I’m doing wrong.”

“I’m sorry, Darling.” Rarity sympathetically said.

There was a moment of silence.

“I’ll never become a great singer.” The stranger eventually, and dejectedly, spoke up.

I’ll never become a great singer.

The words rang through Adagio’s mind like the sound of a thousand cathedral bells. They echoed and repeated over and over again, each time becoming slightly different, changing from the stranger’s voice into a new one.

I’ll never become a great singer.

Soon the words started to sound as if they were coming from two different sources, mashed together but still distinguishable from one another. Eventually though, there was only the new voice. At first, Adagio didn’t recognize this new voice. It sounded so…young, and so sad. And yet, she couldn’t help but feel like she’d heard it before. Maybe somewhere in passing, like in the school hallway or at the mall?

I’ll never become a great singer.

No, that wasn’t it. The more she heard it, the more she began to recognize it. She still couldn’t put her finger on it, but she knew that it was familiar. Like a voice she’d heard many years ago but had somehow forgotten.

I’ll never become a great singer.

And then, just like that, the Dazzling suddenly knew who’s voice it was she was hearing. It was her own voice, from when she was a young siren.

I’ll never become a great singer.

Without warning, Adagio began to feel dizzy and disoriented. Her vision began to blur as the voice inside her head began to speak in fragmented sentences, as if it were a TV that was rapidly changing channels.

…I can’t sing that high… Just say something to me, please…I’m so hungry…

Memories long forgotten had rushed into Adagio’s conscious mind like a mighty hurricane, and it was causing her to lose her balance. In an effort to keep herself upright, the Dazzling quickly grabbed hold of the door with her right hand. The gesture had the exact opposite effect, however, as it only caused the door to swing wide open, which in turn caused the poor girl to fall right into the music room…face first.

“Ow.” She compulsorily uttered into the floor.

Even though she’d just fallen flat onto her face, Adagio admittedly felt a twinge of gratitude for the fact that it’d happened, as it had managed to snap her out of her dazed and disoriented state. Yeah, it had hurt, but she’d needed it at that moment.

Anyways, happy to have her senses back Adagio slowly but surely began to pick herself up off the floor.

“Adagio?” She heard Rarity say as she did so.

It was at this moment that the Dazzling remembered that there were people inside the room she’d just fallen into. Feeling an incredible sense of embarrassment that dwarfed any pain from the fall, she hastened her efforts to remove herself from the floor and looked straight ahead to see two people staring at her with looks of bewilderment. One of them was Rarity, obviously, and the other was a younger girl that she didn’t know. However, based her appearance, she assumed she was of some relation to Rarity.

“Um, hi.” She awkwardly greeted the two of them once she was back on her feet, desperately trying to give the impression that she hadn’t just made a complete buffoon of herself. Which of course she had.

“Adagio!” Rarity unexpectedly exclaimed as she started making her way over to her. “So glad you’re here, Darling!”

“You…are?” Adagio perplexingly asked as Rarity grabbed ahold of her hand and led her over to the other girl, confused as to why the Rainboom didn’t seem at all upset about her eavesdropping.

“But of course!” Rarity blithely replied. “You’re just the person we need right now!”

Even though Rarity usually was a jocund person, there was something about her current level of cheer that Adagio found…off putting. The fashionista seemed a bit too happy to see her for her comfort. In her experience, the only time anyone was ever this happy was when they had some wicked ulterior motive for what they were doing. Well, anyone other than Sonata and Pinkie Pie at least.

“Adagio, meet my little sister, Sweetie Belle.” Rarity introduced the young girl once the two of them were right in front of her. “Sweetie Belle, you know Adagio, right?”

“Uh, yeah. Sort of.” Sweetie Belle replied, sounding just as perplexed as Adagio felt right now. “Hi, Adagio.”

“H-Hi, Sweetie Belle.” Adagio politely greeted back.

“Sweetie Belle wants to become a better singer but is having a few difficulties.” Rarity then explained to the Dazzling. “She asked me for some help, but expertise musicale is rather limited when it comes to vocals.”

This was true. While Rarity did sing in the Rainbooms, she wasn’t a main singer like Sunset Shimmer or Rainbow Dash. Her musical gifts were more attuned to instruments like the piano and keytar, which Adagio already knew from how she’d studied each Rainboom the first time she’d seen them perform.

“But now that you’re here you can help her instead.” Rarity nonchalantly concluded.

“What?!” Both Adagio and Sweetie Belle shouted at the same time in utter disbelief.

“Oh come now, Sweetie Belle.” Rarity casually addressed her sister. “Adagio is a Dazzling. You saw how good of a singer she is when she and her sisters performed at the Battle of the Bands.”

This was also true. Adagio had been a good singer at the Battle of the Bands. Hell, she had been a phenomenal singer. But that was just it, she had been a phenomenal singer, before she’d lost her magic and with it, her ability to sing. Adagio knew that Rarity was aware of this this, obviously, so what in the name of Celestia was she doing right now?

“Rarity, can I speak with you for a minute.” The Dazzling sharply whispered.

“Of course, Darling.” Rarity coolly replied as she and Adagio made their way towards the other end of the room.

“What the hell, Rarity?!” Adagio pointedly inquired once the two of them were far enough away from Sweetie Belle. “You know my sisters and I can’t sing anymore, so why are you volunteering me to teach your sister how to sing? In fact, why are you volunteering me, period?”

A small smile crossed Rarity’s face before she answered. At first glance it appeared to be her usual, friendly smile, but the way it almost seemed to curl at the ends made Adagio think there was something behind it. Something…devilish.

“I am aware of your inability to sing anymore, yes.” The fashionista amiably began to say. “But you still have all your musical knowledge, do you not? Just because you yourself can’t sing anymore doesn’t mean you can’t share your knowledge with someone.”

As much as Adagio hated to admit it, Rarity wasn’t wrong about that. She’d spent years of her life learning how to master her voice, and even though it was all but useless to her now she still had the knowledge of how to be a great singer locked away within her mind.

“And as for why I’m volunteering you.” The Rainboom continued, still sounding amiable until she quickly dawned a piercing glare. “You owe me.”

The sudden sharpness of the way Rarity said ‘You owe me’ sent a chill down Adagio’s spine. With the exception of Fluttershy, Rarity was the most frightening of the Rainbooms when she got angry. At least to her.

“I…owe you?” She stated with a mixture of fear and confusion in her voice. “For what?”

Adagio’s question only intensified Rarity’s glare.

“Misako and Kyoko.” She very sternly answered. “You tried to pawn them off on me, remember?”

Adagio did remember. Awhile back, she’d been asked by Principal Celestia to show a couple of new students named Misako and Kyoko around the school. At first they seemed like normal high school girls to her, but soon enough she learned they were actually a pair of high tempered ruffians who were prone to violence. After they’d threatened to kick Bulk Bicep’s ass for supposedly touching one of them, she’d taken them back to her office to try and calm them down. That’s when Rarity came into the picture.

In a desperate attempt to rid herself of Misako and Kyoko, at least temporarily, Adagio had introduced Rarity to the two transfer students so that she could catch her breath from the crazy morning she’d had. Things went well at first, but eventually Kyoko accused Rarity of being someone named Hibari, whom she and Misako had once beaten up, and both she and Misako got confrontational with the fashionista. No punches or anything like that were thrown, but the whole thing did leave Rarity a bit shaken. And apparently with a small bone to pick with Adagio.

“Oh yeah. That.” The Dazzling shamefully replied to Rarity’s inquiry.

“Yes, that.” Rarity a little less severely responded. “Now I’m not one to hold a grudge, but I am still a tad upset with you about that-”

“But you’ll forgive me for it if I help your sister with her singing. Right?” Adagio bluntly chimed in, knowing full-well where Rarity was going with this.

“Um, well, yes.” Rarity haltingly replied, having been caught off-guard by the Dazzling’s amazing grasp of the situation.

Needless to say, Adagio wasn’t too thrilled with the position she was in. She didn’t really want to spend her free time helping Sweetie Belle with her singing, but she also didn’t want to say no and remain on Rarity’s bad side either. It was a real no win situation for her. However, it didn’t take her long to make her decision because if there was one thing she’d learned since the Battle of the Bands and from living with Sunset Shimmer, it was to stay on the all the Rainbooms’ good side as much as possible. That, and she did feel a little guilty about subjecting Rarity to Misako and Kyoko the way she had.

After taking a quick look over at Sweetie Belle, who was still standing by herself with a confused expression on her face, Adagio gave a small sigh and prepared to speak.

“Okay, I’ll help your sister.” She defeatedly conceded.

“Wonderful!” Rarity jovially expressed just before turning around to face her sister. “Sweetie Belle! Adagio’s going to be helping you now, so I’ll be taking off.”

“What?!” Both Adagio and Sweetie Belle once again shouted at the same time in utter disbelief.

“You’re not staying, Rarity?” Sweetie Belle asked her sister in an alarmed fashion as she made her way over to her.

Adagio couldn’t believe it either, though she remained silent.

“It’ll be fine, Sweetie.” Rarity assured her sister as she grabbed a hold of her shoulders. “Adagio’s not a power-crazed lunatic anymore, and she knows all there is to know about singing.”

A small scowl crossed Adagio’s face when she heard Rarity refer to her as having been a ‘power-crazed lunatic’, but she quickly lost it. She didn’t like it when people brought up her past in such a manner, even though she herself admitted to having been obsessed with power back then.

“And I can’t stay because I have to go home and prepare my fall lineup for that meeting with Prim Hemline tomorrow, remember?” Rarity continued.

“Oh yeah. That.” Sweetie Belle dejectedly replied.

Sensing her sister’s continued despondent state, Rarity pulled Sweetie Belle into a quick hug.

“Everything will be fine.” She softly whispered before breaking the hug and heading out the door, waving goodbye to both her sister and Adagio as she did so.

Now alone, Adagio just silently looked down at Sweetie Belle, who was silently looking up at her with an expression that seemed to say, ‘What now?’.

“Um, okay then.” The Dazzling unadroitly said as an awkward smile formed on her face. “Why don’t we get started?”

Adagio then quickly scanned the room for a place to sit down. Finding a piano bench that wasn’t more than six feet away from her, she quickly moved towards it and took a seat.

“Let’s see what you’ve got.” She said once she was seated, trying to sound affable but coming off more like she was Simon Cowell.

“Ah ah ah ah ~”

“Better, but you’re still not hitting the E♭ correctly after the F.” Adagio critiqued Sweetie Belle’s singing.

“Ugh, I know, I know!” Sweetie Belle frustratingly acknowledged.

Adagio had been helping Sweetie Belle with her singing for about an hour now, and so far, the girl was showing little improvement. None if the techniques the Dazzling tried using to help Sweetie Belle get better seemed to be working, and she was quickly running out of things to try. Even still, she knew she couldn’t give up trying, at least not yet. Regardless of whether or not Sweetie Belle’s singing could actually be improved, she knew she needed to work with her a bit longer in order to appease Rarity.

“Why don’t we take it from the top.” She suggested.

“Why bother?” Sweetie Belle defeatedly remarked as she leaned back against the piano. “Nothing’s working. I’ll never become a great singer.”

I’ll never become a great singer

There it was again, that phrase. That phrase that had triggered an unpleasant psychological response from Adagio earlier. It didn’t elicit any such response when she’d heard this time though, but it did give her an idea. An idea about what Sweetie Belle’s problem might just be.

“Why do you want to become a great singer, Sweetie Belle?” She curiously inquired.

“Huh?” Sweetie Belle bewilderingly uttered in response.

“You keep saying that you want to become a great singer. But why is that?” Adagio clarified.

Sweetie Belle didn’t answer right away. Instead, she lowered her head and brought a hand up to her chin as she contemplated what she was going to say next.

“I guess…it’s because I like to sing.” She eventually replied. “I’ve always been good at singing, and it always seems to make people happy when I do it. So I figured, if I became great at singing it would make people even happier.”

As Adagio looked at Sweetie Belle and listened to her explain why she wanted to become a great singer, she felt as though she were staring at a reversed reflection of herself. She too wanted to be a great singer when she was about Sweetie Belle’s age, but her motivations had been the exact opposite of the young girl’s, at least in most regards. She’d wanted to become a great singer so she could use her magic to make people angry and feed, she was a siren after all, but admittedly there was one person back then that she’d hope to make happy with her singing. Someone who was never happy with her. Someone…

Realizing that she was starting to slip back into her own mind, Adagio quickly snapped back to reality.

“I see.” She casually remarked as she stood up. “I think I know why nothing we’ve tried so far has been working.”

“You do?” Sweetie Belle inquired.

“I do.” Adagio confirmed just before heading for the door. “Follow me.”

As Adagio reached the threshold she realized she didn’t hear the sound of footsteps following her. She quickly turned her head around to see if Sweetie Belle was right behind her, but in fact the young girl hadn’t moved so much as an inch from where she’d been standing.

“You coming?” She curiously asked.

“Y-Yeah.” Sweetie Belle hesitantly answered as she slowly made her way over to the Dazzling.

Once Sweetie Belle was right behind her, Adagio crossed the threshold and the two girls started making their way down the hall. The walk was fairly quiet, until Adagio decided to speak up.

“You don’t like me very much, do you, Sweetie Belle?” She candidly asked.

Adagio’s unexpected question caused Sweetie Belle to stop dead in her tracks. As she stood still out of shock, she tried to think of something to say in response but couldn’t figure out what. Mostly because the Dazzling wasn’t all that wrong in her assumption.

“It’s all right if you don’t.” Adagio sincerely said as she too ceased walking and turned around. “It won’t hurt my feelings, I understand why some students still don’t particularly care for me and my sisters after what we’d done at the Battle of the Bands. But if that is how you feel just say so and we’ll stop right now. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything.”

Sweetie Belle felt like she was caught between a rock and a hard place. It was true that she didn’t like Adagio very much, but at the same time she felt guilty just for feeling that way. In the time since the Dazzlings had become motivational speaker at CHS she’d seen how they’d changed and how they’d helped so many students with their problems, her best friends Apple Bloom and Scootaloo included. But there was just something inside her that made it difficult for her to fully forgive the three former sirens. Maybe it was resentment because of all the pain they’d caused everyone, or maybe it was because she’d felt helpless when they’re magic had made her act so horribly towards her fellow students. Whatever it was, it kept her from being able to truly trust any of the Dazzlings.

“I admit that I still have my doubts about you and your sisters.” She sedately informed Adagio. “But since Rarity trusts you, I think I can trust you a little…for now.”

Even though Adagio had said she wouldn’t feel hurt by Sweetie Belle’s confession of enmity towards her, she’d be lying if she said it didn’t hurt a teeny-tiny bit. She truly did understand why some students still didn’t like her and she was used to any shade that got thrown her way, but even though it didn’t bother her as much as it used to it still stung on some small level. Though with Sweetie Belle she managed to find a silver lining that slightly lifted her spirits. She was happy that the young girl was at least willing to trust her a little, if only because she was piggybacking off of Rarity’s trust in her.

“All right then.” She solemnly said as she turned back around and slowly continued down the hall. “If you feel you can trust me enough and still want my help, follow me.”

It took Sweetie Belle a few seconds, but eventually she started to follow Adagio down the hall.

“You know, I’d trust you a bit more if you told me where it is you’re taking me.” She said as she caught up to the Dazzling.

“Fair enough.” Adagio accepted. “I’m taking you to a karaoke bar.”

“A…what?” Sweetie Belle confusedly asked.

There was an uncomfortable silence in the car as Adagio drove herself and Sweetie Belle through downtown Canterlot City. After she’d clarified that she was taking the young girl to a karaoke bar, neither one of them had said a word to each other. Normally she didn’t mind silence while she was driving, but after everything that had happened back at school she was hoping for a little light conversation with Sweetie Belle to help build up the girl’s trust in her. However, she didn’t want to be the initiator of said light conversation out of fear that she’d come off as a prying Pandora. So, silence it was.

Thankfully though, the trip from CHS to the karaoke bar wasn’t a long one.

“We’re here.” The Dazzling casually informed her passenger as she pulled off to the curb.

Sweetie Belle looked out the window and saw that they were in front of a small building with the words, ‘Starlight Karaoke’ displayed over the entrance.

“This is a karaoke bar?” She inquired in disbelief as she got out of the car.

“It’s a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, yes. But it is a karaoke bar.” Adagio confirmed as she walked around the front of the car and headed for the entrance. “My sisters and I used to come here often before we lost our magic.”

“You guys used to sing karaoke?” Sweetie Belle asked as followed the Dazzling.

“It was a way for us to relax.” Adagio explained. “A way for us to just sing without worrying about collecting energy in the process.”

“Ah.” Sweetie Belle understandingly replied as they entered the building.

Upon seeing the inside of the karaoke bar, Sweetie Belle’s eyes went as wide as dinner plates. The place was gorgeous. A tad small, but absolutely gorgeous. The walls were painted royal purple with cylinder chandeliers hanging from the ceiling that emitted a cool light which gave the room a very warm and welcoming feeling. And the layout was more akin to that of a fancy hotel than a karaoke bar. It was enough to make the young girl feel entranced.

“Ah, Miss Dazzle. Good to see you again.” A well-dressed man politely greeted from behind a reception desk once he’d noticed the two girls enter.

“Long time, no see, Firelight.” Adagio politely greeted the man, apparently named Firelight, back as she made her way over to the desk.

“Will your sisters be joining you today?” Firelight inquired.

“No, not today.” Adagio nonchalantly answered as she pulled her wallet out of her pocket and removed a credit card from it. “It’ll just be me and my new friend here. One hour.”

“Very good.” Firelight replied as he took the card from Adagio, ran it through a machine, then returned it to her. “I trust you’ll want your usual room?”

“If it’s available.” Adagio simply said.

“It is.” Firelight confirmed as he reached under his desk, grabbed a key with a number 25 engraved on it, and presented it to the Dazzling.

“Thank you, Firelight.” Adagio gratefully said as she took the key and started making her way towards a hallway located across from the entrance. “Come on, Sweetie Belle.”

Hearing Adagio say her name broke Sweetie Belle out of her trance and young girl quickly followed the Dazzling down the long hallway. As they walked, they passed a number of doors with numbers on them, odds on the left and evens on the right, that went in increasing order as they passed them. The farther down the hall they walked, the more curious Sweetie Belle became about which room they’d be using. It wasn’t until they reached the very end of the hall and were standing in front of a door with a number 25 on it that her curiosity was sated.

“Here we are.” Adagio rather amiably said as she unlocked the door. “The ole home away from home.”

Adagio’s use of the term ‘ole home away from home’ made Sweetie Belle dawn a look of befuddlement for two reasons; one, had the Dazzling really just said that, and two, why would she consider a karaoke bar room to be a home away from home? She was about to say something about it when Adagio opened the door and stepped inside, revealing yet another gorgeous room that left her amazed and speechless. It was the same style as the lobby, but about the size of a large walk-in closet and without the chandeliers. Inside it, she noticed an L-shaped blue couch, a table with a microphone, a tablet, and what appeared to be a menu on it, a karaoke system complete with speakers and amplifiers, a TV, and a phone that was connected to the wall.

“How much does a place like this cost?” She softly asked herself once she was able to speak again.

Once they were both inside the room, Sweetie Belle closed the door behind her and Adagio plopped herself down onto the couch.

“Aah. I’ve missed this place.” The Dazzling relaxingly said.

“I thought you said you and your sister came here often.” Sweetie Belle confusedly said as she approached the couch.

“I said we came her often before we lost our magic.” Adagio clarified as she sat up in her seat and scooched down a bit. “After we lost our magic we stopped coming here because we couldn’t sing anymore.”

That both did and didn’t make sense to Sweetie Belle. It did make sense to her because she understood why Adagio and her sisters wouldn’t want to come to a karaoke bar if they couldn’t sing anymore, but at the same time it didn’t make sense to her because, well…it was just karaoke. Even though she’d never been to a karaoke bar before, she’d done some karaoke with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo at her house. To her, karaoke wasn’t about how well you could sing, it was just about spending some quality time with people you liked.

“I’m going to order a drink.” Adagio said as she got up from the couch and made her way over to the telephone. “You want anything?”

“Oh, um, sure.” Sweetie Belle said as she quickly picked up the menu from the table and started to peruse it.

The selection of drinks was vast and impressive, but that wasn’t surprising to Sweetie Belle given how nice this karaoke bar was. She tried to find something she was familiar with when she came across the alcoholic drinks section and got a wicked idea.

“I think I’ll have an Apple Crisp.” She casually said.

Adagio was just about top pick up the phone when she heard Sweetie Belle say what she wanted. She immediately stopped and turned around to face the young girl with a bewildered expression that soon turned into one of almost amusement.

“Nice try.” She playfully retorted. “But I know that an Apple Crisp has vodka and whiskey in it.”

“Hehe.” Sweetie Belle awkwardly chuckled as she put the menu back down on the table. “Did I say Apple Crisp? Because I meant Apple Juice.”

“Sure you did.” Adagio teased as she picked up the phone and waited for someone to pick up on the other end. “…Yes, this is room 25. We’d like to order a Whiskey Sour and an Apple Juice…Great, thank you.”

With their drink order placed, Adagio put the phone back on the wall and walked back over to the couch. Once she was seated, she picked up the tablet and handed it to Sweetie Belle.

“Here. Find the song you like.” She told the young girl.

“Okay.” Sweetie Belle simply said as she took the tablet and began scrolling through songs.

After a few seconds of scrolling through the vast list of songs that Starlight Karaoke had in their system, Sweetie Belle found one that she really liked, one that was fairly new but was already a favorite of hers. Her selection made, she clicked on the ‘Add to Queue’ icon next to it and it immediately showed up on the TV, ready to go.

“All right.” Adagio coolly said as she picked up the microphone and handed it to Sweetie Belle. “Go for it.”

“Wait, just like that?” Sweetie Belle bafflingly asked as she put the tablet down and took the microphone. “Nothing about breath control, or watching my vibrato, or anything like that?”

“Nope.” Adagio replied. “You already have all those skills and techniques down, there’s just one thing you need to do differently this time.”

“What’s that?” Sweetie Belle curiously inquired.

Before Adagio answered, she dawned a very stern expression and placed her right hand over her chest.

“You need to sing with your heart.” She informed the young girl.

A visible look of bewilderment crossed Sweetie Belle’s face after Adagio had said that, and the Dazzling knew she was going to have to elaborate.

“Don’t worry so much about things like your breathing or vibrato.” She clarified. “You already know how to control those things, they’re second nature to you now. Just focus on feeling what it is you’re singing and use that feeling to express what’s in your heart.”

Just then, there was a knock on the door and Firelight stepped inside with two drinks on a silver tray.

“One Whiskey Sour and one Apple Juice.” He said as he placed the try down on the table.

“Thank you, Firelight.” Adagio once again gratefully said to him.

“T-Thanks.” Sweetie Belle softly added.

“My pleasure.” Was all Firelight said before leaving the room.

Neither girl touched her drink right away. Instead, Sweetie Belle just silently got up from the couch and moved to a more open part of the room as she prepared to sing.

“Ready?” Adagio asked as she picked up the tablet.

“Yeah, ready.” Sweetie Belle confirmed as she lifted the microphone up to her face.

Adagio just gave an acknowledging nod as she tapped the tablet and the music started playing.

There were a few seconds of instrumentals and vocals before Sweetie Belle’s cue to start singing came in. During those few seconds, she took a few deep and calming breaths as she tried to figure out how she was supposed to sing with her heart. Soon enough though, it came time for her to start singing.

At first, Sweetie Belle was doing fine, but just fine. She was hitting all the right notes but there wasn’t much passion behind them, not much heart. But as the song went on, she started to feel the music more, feel like it was an extension of herself and her feelings. She still wasn’t sure if this was what Adagio meant by ‘sing with your heart’, but it was a good feeling and she decided to roll with it.

With each passing stanza, Sweetie Belle’s singing became more powerful, more passionate, and more heartfelt. But it wasn’t until she reached the first, ‘Into the unknown’ that she truly started to understand what Adagio had meant. She wasn’t just reciting words to a song, she was communicating her feelings through her music. Breath control, vibrato, these things never crossed her mind as she sung out the lyrics to her song. The rest of Sweetie Belle’s performance was simply amazing, spellbinding, and very nearly perfect. She had made a mistake or two, but that was to be expected. After all, no performance is 100% perfect. But it had been considerably better than at school.

Once the song was over, Sweetie Belle slowly lowered the microphone from her face and she gave a few small pants of exhaustion. She’d never felt like that when she’d sung before; so expressive and alive. After a few seconds, she heard the sound of Adagio clapping.

Much better.” She sincerely said with a smile on her face.

“What…what just happened?” Sweetie Belle asked as she sat back down and took a large swig of her Apple Juice.

“You sang with your heart, that’s what happened.” Adagio candidly explained.

“But…” Sweetie Belle started to say after she’d finished her Apple Juice. “But how did you know that’s what I needed to do?”

“Because that’s what I needed to do to become the singer I am.” Adagio answered, before remembering that she’d lost her ability to sing. “Err, the singer I was.”

Adagio’s answer filled Sweetie Belle with intrigue. She couldn’t help but feel that there was a story behind it, one that she wanted to hear.

“So how did you know that’s what you needed to do to become a great singer?” She curiously asked.

In response to Sweetie Belle’s inquiry, Adagio dawned a sullen expression and ceased looking at the girl, moving her head down and to the side.

“It’s a long story.” She somberly said.

“I’ve got time.” Sweetie Belle replied a bit more eagerly then she’d intended, causing her to feel like she was being pushy. “I-If you want to tell it to me that is.”

In truth, Adagio really didn’t want to tell Sweetie Belle her story. It was very personal and not at all pleasant, and she didn’t want it to spread around CHS like so much high school gossip. However, at the same time she still wanted to gain the girl’s trust, and she figured that sharing her story with her might be a good way to do that. Basically, she felt like she was caught between a rock and a hard place. In the end though, she felt like she could trust Sweetie Belle, but still wanted to verify it first.

“Okay, I’ll tell you, Sweetie Belle.” She acutely conceded as she turned back to face the young girl. “But you have to promise me you won’t repeat anything I tell you to anyone. Not to Rarity, not to your friends, and especially not to me sisters. Understood?”

“Understood.” Sweetie Belle vehemently replied with an acknowledging nod.

Before she began her story, Adagio picked up her Whisky Sour and just about downed the whole damn thing.

“Believe it or not, there was I time when I was the worst singer amongst the Dazzlings.” She solemnly began. “And it wasn’t simply that I wasn’t as good as my sisters. Oh no, I was bad. Really bad. So much so that I couldn’t even collect energy. And for a siren, that can be dangerous.”

“What do you mean?” Sweetie Belle inquired.

“I mean that energy, especially negative energy, is a siren’s life blood.” Adagio explained. “We needed it to survive as much as food or water. If we didn’t get enough of it, we would go hungry and potentially die of starvation.”

Sweetie Belle couldn’t help but give a visible expression of shock as Adagio explained this to her. She’d known that the Dazzlings needed energy for their magic, but she hadn’t known that they needed it just to stay alive. That still didn’t excuse their actions at the Battle of the Bands in her mind, but she at least understood a bit better why they’d done the things they had.

“Anyways, I was the worst of us, Aria was the best, and Sonata was in the middle.” The Dazzling continued. “And because I was the worst I lived on the edge a lot. I can remember going days without gathering any energy and being hungry all the time, wondering if I’d last another week or even another day. I was a miserable, pathetic excuse of a siren and I knew it, often telling myself that I’d never become a great singer.”

“B-But what about your sisters?” Sweetie Belle chimed in, sounding absolutely heartbroken. “Didn’t they help you? Or your mom and dad?”

The mention of Adagio’s parents triggered a psychological response within the Dazzling. But it wasn’t like before. No, this was different. Some might even say this response was even worse.


Adagio’s unexpected, and frankly maniacal, laughter frightened Sweetie Belle. She’d never heard such wicked cackling before, and it was enough to make her hastily move down the couch to distance herself from the manic Dazzling.

Despite her uncontrollable laughter, Adagio managed to get a grip enough to realize that she was scaring Sweetie Belle. Finding her current behavior counterproductive to gaining the young girl’s trust, she immediately tried to calm down.

“I’m sorry…I’m sorry.” She sincerely apologized as her laughing fit died down and she recomposed herself. “It’s just…if you knew my parents at all you…you never would’ve said that.”

“I..I don’t understand.” Sweetie Belle confessed with a twinge of fear in her voice.

Adagio waited until she’d completely recomposed herself before she spoke again.

“Look, Sweetie Belle, I know around here it’s common for parents to care about and love their children.” She collectedly began to explain. “But in siren society, that isn’t always the case. In fact, that’s often the exception. Sirens have a real ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, and no siren had that mentality more than my mother. To her, if you were too weak to gather your own energy then you didn’t deserve to survive. As such, she forbad my dad and my sisters from helping me, either by sharing their energy with me or helping me get better at singing.”

“A-And your dad and sisters went along with that?” Sweetie Belle hesitantly inquired out of disbelief as she slowly inched her way back to where she’d been sitting before Adagio had snapped.

“You don’t know how powerful my mom was.” Adagio somberly answered. “My dad and sisters were all too afraid of her wrath to risk defying her. Hell, I was so afraid of her wrath too that I never even asked any of them for help for fear of what she’d do to me if she found out. Yeah, my mom sure knew how to inspire fear all right. But you know what the worst part of it all was? Deep down in my heart, I still wanted her approval, more than anything else. Maybe she knew that and was using my desire for her approval to control me, but when I listened to my heart, that was all I wanted.”

It wasn’t hard for Sweetie Belle to put two-and-two together.

“That was why you wanted to become a great singer, wasn’t it?” She inquired, even though she already knew the answer. “Because it was the only way to get your mom’s approval.”

“Yep.” Adagio dejectedly answered.

Sweetie Belle wasn’t sure to how to process what it was she was feeling at that moment. Maybe it was because she herself had such a kind and loving mother, but she couldn’t even begin to fathom how Adagio could desire the approval of someone so vile and wicked, no matter who they were.

“I know, that’s messed up.” Adagio sorely admitted, picking up on Sweetie Belle’s confusion. “But I grew up in a messed up household.”

It was at this point that Adagio started slipping into her own mind again as memories of her childhood came flooding back once more; the times she’d been starving for energy, the times her mother would just ignore her out of disgust for her. Not only that, but harsh realities started to creep in was well. In particular, the reality that she’d lost her ability to sing. Even though she herself had just admitted that she sang for some really messed up reasons, she had still enjoyed the act of singing itself.

“I just wish I could still sing.” She somberly said aloud as looked down at her lap while a single tear ran down her cheek.

Just as Adagio felt more tears welling up in the corners of her eyes, she felt a small hand grab hold of hers. She immediately looked up to see Sweetie Belle holding her hand with tears of her own running down her face.

“Why?” She simply asked.

“W-What?” The Dazzling replied, not understanding what Sweetie Belle was asking her.

“Why do you wish you could still sing.” Sweetie Belle clarified. “I’m guessing it’s not because you still want to gain your mom’s approval, and you don’t need it to take energy from people anymore. So, why do you wish you could still sing?”

Adagio couldn’t think of answer to that question right off the top of her head. She’d never even thought about that question before, she’d just…wished she could still sing. One thing she knew for certain though was Sweetie Belle was right, it wasn’t because she still wanted her mother’s approval.

And that’s when it hit her.

“I guess…because I want to sing for something other than my mother’s approval.” She confessed. “I don’t know what exactly, but I just want to prove that my singing wasn’t just about appeasing my mother’s desires.”

Upon hearing Adagio’s answer, Sweetie Belle removed her hand from the Dazzling’s, picked up the microphone with her right hand and the tablet with her left, and held them out in front of her.

“Go for it.” She simply said.

Adagio just stared bewilderingly at the objects that Sweetie Belle was offering her. Was the young girl serious?

“Sweetie Belle, I…I can’t.” She defeatedly said as she pushed the microphone and tablet away. “You heard what I sound like now after the Rainbooms defeated me and my sisters at the Battle of the Bands. I just…can’t.”

Sweetie Belle knew it wasn’t going to be easy to convince Adagio to try and sing again, but she also knew that there was still hope for the Dazzling, and that she needed to help her see that.

“Maybe that’s just because you aren’t singing with your heart anymore.” Sweetie Belle earnestly suggested.

“What are you talking about?” Adagio unemotionally replied.

“You just admitted that the reason you want to sing now is different from why you wanted to sing before.” Sweetie Belle explained. “I admit I’m just speculating here, but maybe you didn’t lose your ability to sing completely. Maybe…maybe you just need to find your voice again.”

As soon as Sweetie Belle finished speaking, she once again held out the microphone and tablet in front of her. Adagio, meanwhile, still wasn’t convinced that what the young girl was saying as true. Her ability to sing and her magic were gone, period. That’s what she believed. However, the Dazzling could see just how much conviction and determination Sweetie Belle had right now. She wasn’t going to cease her efforts to try and get her to sing. So even though she thought it was pointless and that she was going to make a buffoon of herself, Adagio reluctantly took the microphone and tablet from Sweetie Belle’s hands and started scrolling through songs. A large smile crossed Sweetie Belle’s face once she did this.

Adagio wasn’t sure what song she should try singing. There were several songs she found that she knew and liked as she scrolled through the tablet, but she didn’t want to sing any of them. She didn’t want to butcher any of the songs that she’d once been able to sing so perfectly. But at the same time, she didn’t want to pick a song she didn’t know, for obvious reasons. It was a real conundrum.

At one point as Adagio scrolled through the tablet though, she accidentally pressed her finger down too hard and inadvertently made a selection. When she realized this, her first instinct was to cancel the selection, but when she saw that it was a song she knew but was never really into, she just decided to go with it. She quickly got up and moved over towards where Sweetie Belle had been standing when she’d sang, and hoped that she wasn’t about to make too much of an ass of herself.

She brought the microphone up to her face just as the music started playing.

At first, Adagio was mostly just talk-singing, which was fine with her. It meant that she didn’t need to worry so much about her technique or anything like that. Plus it allowed her to focus more on the words to the song.

The words. The more Adagio focused on them, the more she started to feel them, like they weren’t just lyrics in a song, but something more. As the song progressed to parts that involved more actual singing, she found that she wasn’t doing too bad. Not great, but not bad either. The Dazzling wasn’t sure why this was, but she wasn’t going to argue with results so she kept focusing on the words.

With each passing stanza, Adagio’s singing improved, becoming more powerful, more passionate, and more…heartfelt. Slowly but surely, she was starting to understand what was happening. But it wasn’t until about a minute and a half into the song, when the tempo picked up, that she finally got it. She wasn’t just singing; she was making a statement. A statement that said, ‘Despite everything you did to me, Mom, I’m still standing’.

From that point on, Adagio’s singing was back to what it had been before the Battle of the Bands; spectacular. Every note was hit to perfection and filled with such strong emotion. Not only that, but Adagio had even started to do a little dance as she sang, finding that singing alone wasn’t enough to express what it was she was trying to say. All-in-all, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this way. The last time she’d felt so…alive.

“Adagio, you can sing again!” Sweetie Belle vigorously exclaimed to her during an instrumental break in the song.

Adagio just gave Sweetie Belle a genuinely warm smile in response as she prepared to start singing again.

The rest of Adagio’s performance was just as amazing. In fact, it might have even been better, as Sweetie Belle joined in at the ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ parts. Soon enough though, the song ended and Adagio was left standing in both shock and awe.

I…I can sing again. She thought in disbelief, as if trying to convince herself that what had just happened was real. I can sing again!

Just then, Sweetie Belle practically tackled the Dazzling into a hug.

“That was amazing, Adagio!” The young girl enthusiastically praised her. “You’re amazing!”

Despite feeling exhausted from her powerhouse performance, Adagio found the strength to return the warm and affectionate hug.

“Yeah.” She softly replied, feeling doubly happy since Sweetie Belle seemed to trust her now. “You’re pretty amazing yourself, Sweetie Belle.”

The two girls continued to hug for a few seconds longer until Sweetie Belle decided to break it.

“You think maybe we can do a duet next?” She eagerly suggested.

Adagio couldn’t help but give a small, playful giggle upon hearing Sweetie Belle’s suggestion.

“Yeah, I think we can.” She jovially replied as she walked over to the table and got the tablet so they could find a good duet song together.

The rest of Adagio and Sweetie Belle’s time at the karaoke bar was nothing short of joyful. They sang a couple of duets together as well as a few solo songs each, all the while never ceasing to have a good time. Eventually though, their hour came to an end it was time from them to leave.

“This was so much fun!” Sweetie Belle wholeheartedly said as she and Adagio left the room. “Thanks so much for bringing me here, Adagio!”

“It was my pleasure, Sweetie Belle.” The Dazzling just as wholeheartedly replied as she locked the door. “And thanks for encouraging me to sing again. I don’t think I would’ve even tried if it weren’t for you.”

“Don’t mention it.” Sweetie Belle offhandedly said. “So, you think we can come back here sometime?”

It was just so astonishing to Adagio; one minute Sweetie Belle was leery of her, the next she wanted to make going to karaoke their thing. But hey, if that’s what she wanted she saw no reason why it couldn’t be.

“Yeah, I think we can.” She told the girl as she started making her way up the hall. “Maybe I can even convince Aria and Sonata to let you tag along when I bring them back here.”

“You’re bringing your sisters back here?” Sweetie Belle asked as she started to follow Adagio.

“Of course.” Adagio candidly replied. “Do you know what they’d do to me if they found out I learned how to sing again and didn’t share that knowledge with them?”

“No.” Sweetie Belle answered.

“Neither do I.” Adagio admitted. “But given how they react to little things like running out of milk or the TV being left on the True Crime network, I really don’t want to find out.”

Feeling confused by part of what Adagio had just said, Sweetie abruptly stopped walking and dawned a confused expression.

“Wait, what’s the big deal if the TV is left on the True Crime network?” She inquired.

“Sonata doesn’t like true crime stories.” Adagio explained as she too stopped walking and turned around to face Sweetie Belle. “Anytime she watches one and sees a dead body she freaks out. The problem is that Aria loves true crime stories and often leave the TV on True Crime when she’s done watching them. We’ve had a few instances where Sonata turns on the TV after her, sees a dead body, and then freaks out for a while.”

“Oh.” Sweetie Belle simply replied.

It was at this point that both Adagio and Sweetie Belle heard a raucous noise coming from the nearby room 10. Even though the rooms were supposed to be soundproof, there was still a decibel limit to just how soundproof they were and the people within were clearly breaking that limit. What was odd though was that both girls felt they recognized the voices coming from within. Sweetie Belle couldn’t quite place them, but Adagio had a pretty good idea who they belonged to.

“It can’t be.” She skeptically said as she approached room 10, grabbed the doorknob (which wasn’t locked), and opened the door.

As soon as the door was opened, the sound of two drunken women singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ immediately rang out into the hallway, causing Sweetie Belle to move closer so she could see who they were.

“Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna?” She said to no one in-particular once she had her answer.

“I guess this was their important meeting then.” Adagio befuddlingly remarked as she closed the door before either Celestia or Luna noticed her and Sweetie Belle.

Neither girl said a word. They just stared at each other for a few seconds before they each started to laugh at what they’d just witnessed. After all, it’s not everyday you see your bosses/Principal and Vice-Principal singing karaoke together drunk.

“Apple Bloom and Scootaloo are not going to believe this.” Sweetie Belle eventually said once she’d stopped laughing.

“Heck, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t just seen it.” Adagio added. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Right behind you.” Sweetie Belle replied as she followed Adagio.

As the two girls left the building and reached Adagio’s car, the Dazzling to a quick look back at the building, and a part of her looked forward to when she’d be back so she could do some more karaoke with her new friend.

Author's Note:

Special thanks to sonicfan05 and CROSSOVER KING for suggesting this chapter!

If you have a suggestion for a future chapter let me know in the comments.

The next chapter will feature Sonata and Twilight Sparkle.