• 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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Sonata and Twilight Sparkle

“Does your person...have a moustache?” Sonata Dusk asked her sister, Adagio.

“No.” Adagio simply answered.

Upon hearing Adagio’s answer, Sonata flipped down a total of three people on her gameboard who had moustaches.

“Does your person have glasses?” Adagio then asked Sonata.

“…Yes.” Sonata hesitantly, and somewhat crestfallenly, replied.

Adagio dawned a small, gleefully wicked smile as she flipped down a total of three characters on her gameboard, leaving only one left standing. Sonata, meanwhile, dawned a nervous and worrisome expression as she realized that if she was to have any hope of winning at this point, she’d have to make a random guess at who Adagio’s person was based on the eight remaining characters still standing on her board.

“Is your person, um, Robert?” The youngest Dazzling hastily inquired.

The small, gleefully wicked smile on Adagio’s face widened.

“Nope.” She vaingloriously answered.

Her guess incorrect, Sonata defeatedly lowered her head before pointlessly flipping Robert’s picture down on her board.

“Sonata.” Adagio then smugly began to say. “Is your person by any chance…Tom?”

Without saying a word, Sonata removed her card from its holding place on her board and held it out in front of her sister. Revealing that her person was, indeed, Tom.

“Huh, looks like I win again.” Adagio haughtily remarked as she leaned back in her chair.

All Sonata could do in response was give a dejected sigh as she slouched forward and rested her arms on her knees while the bitter taste of defeat once again made itself known to her. This had been the twelfth game of Guess Who? that she’d lost today, and so far she and Adagio had only played twelve games.

Frankly, Sonata wasn’t even sure why she’d asked her sister to play Guess Who? with her in the first place. She knew that Adagio was really good at boardgames because of how smart she was, and that she was a bad winner to boot, yet she’d still made the conscious decision to ask her to play one anyways. The best answer she could come up with was that she was just so bored with this particularly dull and uneventful Thursday afternoon that she didn’t care about getting her butt kicked at one, so long as it helped pass the time. However, after losing twelve out of twelve games, she found that she was starting to care.

“Why am I so bad at this game?” She glumly asked herself aloud.

“It’s because you’re asking too many narrow questions.” Adagio nonchalantly replied as she began to flip all the people on her board back up for another game, both making the assumption that Sonata wanted to play again and not realizing that her sister’s question had been rhetorical.

“Huh?” Sonata confusedly replied as she raised her head back.

“The game is intentionally designed to ask narrow questions.” Adagio explained as she finished resetting her board. “You need to ask broader questions so you eliminate more people quicker.”

Sonata still didn’t understand what Adagio was saying. She just silently tilted her head to the side ever-so-slightly and dawned a bewildered expression, one that didn’t go unnoticed by her sister. Feeling sorry for her sister’s ignorance, the eldest Dazzling decided to take pity on Sonata and further explain what it was she was saying. Even if it meant potentially costing her future wins.

“Here.” Adagio said as she got up from her seat and sat down next to Sonata on the couch, flipping all of the characters on her sister’s gameboard once she did so. “Now, what was the first question you asked me last game?”

“Um…” Sonata replied as she tried to remember what her first question had been. “…It was ‘Does your person have red hair?’, right?”

“Right.” Adagio confirmed. “Now look at the gameboard. How many people have red hair?”

Considering that practically every person with red hair was located close together on her board, it didn’t take Sonata long to figure out the answer.

“Five!” She said with a surprising amount of enthusiasm, as if she’d just answered a complicated math problem that the teacher had asked the class.

“Yeah, five.” Adagio somewhat bewilderingly replied, feeling slightly confused by her sister’s suddenly high spirits. “So, if there are a total of 24 people on the board and only five of them have red hair, what are the chances of me saying ‘Yes’?”

And just like that, Sonata’s jubilant demeanor disappeared.

Math had never been Sonata’s strong suit. Perhaps it was because it’s such a non-intuitive and non-natural activity, but she’d always found it to be so incredibly daunting and stressful. Everything about it had to be completely exact and accurate. Every number, every function, every calculation had to be handled with absolute care and precision, there was no room for errors. And unfortunately for Sonata, making errors in general was pretty common for her.

“Um, okay. Let’s see.” She frantically said as she tried to do the math in her head, using her fingers to help her. “There’s 24 people, and only five of them have red hair, so, um…first you carry the one…then, um, take the square root of pi…”

Adagio couldn’t help but facepalm as she watched her sister try, and utterly fail, to do the math. As she brought her hand down she realized that, in hindsight, she should’ve chosen a different teaching method for Sonata. One that involved not asking her to do any math problems.

“It’s 20%, Sonata.” She groaned as she placed a hand on her spastic sister’s shoulder to try and get her to calm down. “The chances of me saying ‘Yes’ are 20%.”

Upon feeling Adagio’s touch, Sonata did calm down. She quickly snapped out of her spasmodic state and looked over at Adagio, who was looking back at her with a deadpan expression.

“Oh. R-Right.” She embarrassingly said, making the very accurate assumption that she’d needlessly overreacted to a simple math problem.

After silently giving her sister a few reassuring pats on the shoulder, Adagio gave a small sigh as she prepared to continue her lesson in Guess Who? strategy. Keeping in mind that going forward it was best to not ask Sonata to do any math other than counting, or even to mention probabilities again.

“Okay, so with only a small chance of being right, most of the time that’s not a very good question to ask. At least in the beginning.” She went on. “The trick is to ask a question that can eliminate a high number of characters early on.”

“Ohhh.” Sonata uttered as she began to understand. “I gotcha. So I should ask a question like, ‘Does your person have rosy cheeks?’, right?”

Once again, Adagio couldn’t help but facepalm.

“Sonata, how many people have rosy cheeks?” She expressionlessly asked through her hand.

Like before, Sonata quickly scanned the board to find the answer. Also like before, it didn’t take her long to get the answer.

“Five!” She once more enthusiastically said before realizing that it was the exact same answer to the ‘How many people have red hair’ question, leaving her now feeling dispirited. “Oh…five.”

“Yes, five.” Adagio replied as she lowered her hand. “Every question pertaining to an attribute will only apply to five people. Five people have rosy cheeks, five people have red hair, five people have moustaches, etc., etc.”

“So then how do you eliminate more than five people?” Sonata confusedly asked.

“You have to think outside the box and ask questions other than ones related to attributes.” Adagio clarified.

Sonata brought her hand up to her chin and dawned a very studious expression as she contemplated her sister’s words. Questions other than those related to attributes; what could some of those be?

“Ooh, ooh, ooh!” Sonata excitedly exclaimed as she started bouncing in her seat. “I’ve got one, I know a good question to ask! Can we play another game, Adagio, pretty please?!”

“Okay, okay.” Adagio agilely replied as she put both her hands on Sonata’s shoulders to get her to stop bouncing. “We can play another game, and I’ll even let you go first.”

Sonata just gave out a cute little squee as Adagio removed her hands from her shoulders and went back over to her chair. Once her sister was back in front of her gameboard and each of them had selected a character, Sonata cleared her throat and prepared to ask her question.

“Dagi.” She said with a certain amount of pride in her voice. “Is your person…a woman?!”

Almost immediately, Adagio lightly slammed her head down on the table, unable to believe that Sonata had yet again asked an attribute-related question that only applied to five people. Even after everything they’d just gone over.

“I give up.” She very softly said into the table.

“Um, Dagi? Are you okay?” Sonata confusedly asked, not having heard her sister’s remark.

Feeling concerned for her sister’s well-being, Sonata got up from her seat and made her way over to Adagio’s side to make sure she was all right.

“Dagi?” She reiterated as she gave Adagio a few light pokes to the head through her poofy hair.

Adagio gave a small, annoyed moan in response, but made no effort to stop Sonata from poking her. After about four pokes, the front door opened and Aria walked in carrying two medium pizzas.

“I’m home.” The pig-tailed Dazzling coolly announced before noticing the rather odd scene occurring in the living room. “Uh, what’s going on?”

“No idea.” Sonata innocently replied as she ceased her poking and addressed Aria. “Dagi and I were just playing Guess Who? when all of a sudden she dropped her head onto the table.”

While Aria was admittedly curious about how a game of Guess Who? had led to Adagio faceplanting on the table, she didn’t ask any follow-up questions. Adagio didn’t seem to be unconscious or anything, so she figured that her sister had simply done this out of some sense of despondency. After all, if anyone could turn something as simple as a boardgame into a frustrating and despair inducing nightmare, it was Sonata.

“Okay, well, get her up. I have to tell you both about something that happened at school today.” She said as she made her way into the kitchen and put the pizzas down on the table. “Plus the pizzas weren’t all that warm when I picked them up, so we should probably get ’em while they’re still at least a little hot.”

“Yeah, okay.” Adagio exhaustively replied as she picked her head up, got up from her seat, and made her way towards the kitchen.

Sonata silently followed her sister into the kitchen as Aria took a few plates out of the kitchen cabinet and placed them on the table.

“What do you two want to drink?” The youngest Dazzling asked her sisters as she entered the kitchen and approached the fridge.

“Hard cider.” Aria replied, in a manner that suggested she really needed one, as she took a seat and got herself a slice of pizza.

“Coke for me.” Adagio said as she too sat down and got a slice of pizza.

Once Sonata reached the fridge, she pulled out a hard cider for Aria, a Coke for Adagio, and a Diet Coke for herself.

“Thanks.” Adagio said as her sister placed her Coke in front of her.

Aria didn’t say anything as Sonata gave her her hard cider, though this was only because her mouth was full of pizza at the moment. So to show her appreciation she just gave her sister a polite nod.

Happy that she’d been helpful, if only slightly, Sonata dawned a small smile as she took a seat and got herself some pizza.

“So, what happened at school today?” Adagio curiously asked Aria before digging into her pizza.

Aria quickly swallowed the pizza in her mouth so that she could answer. However, before she answered she grabbed her hard cider and took a big swig of it, practically downing the whole thing. Needless to say, this gave both Sonata and Adagio the feeling that this wasn’t going to be particularly pleasant news.

“Celestia and Luna came to see me about the ski trip.” She said.

“It hasn’t been cancelled, has it?!” Sonata alarmingly inquired, assuming the worst.

“No, it’s still happening.” Aria assured her distressed sister. “But they said they need help with some last minute prep work, so they asked that you and I help them with it tomorrow, Adagio.”

At first, Sonata felt relieved to hear that the ski trip hadn’t been cancelled, but soon she felt confused. She realized that something Aria had just said didn’t make sense. She’d said that it would be herself and Adagio who would be helping Celestia and Luna tomorrow, but tomorrow was already Adagio’s day to serve as motivational speaker at CHS. How was Adagio supposed to be in two places at once?

Sonata was just about to voice her confusion when all of a sudden Adagio slammed a fist down onto the table, startling her.

“This is getting ridiculous.” The eldest Dazzling heatedly remarked, as if this news had been the metaphorical straw that broke the camel’s back. “Helping chaperone the trip is one thing, at least we get something out of that. But all this extra work with no overtime pay is starting to piss me off. Honestly, Aria, how come you’re so okay with this?”

“Because they said they’ll pay us extra for it.” Aria replied with a sly grin as she reached into her pocket, pulled out a small wad of bills, and placed it on the table. “In fact, they even said they’d pay us upfront.”

Seeing the money Aria had placed on the table lit a small spark in Adagio’s eyes.

“Oh, well why didn’t you say so?” She calmly retorted as she took the wad of bills and started counting how much was in it. “If that’s the case then I don’t mind helping with a little extra prep work.”

“Um, excuse me.” Sonata timidly chimed in. “But…how are you supposed to help Celestia and Luna tomorrow if you’re already going to be serving as motivational speaker, Adagio?”

Adagio immediately stopped flipping through the wad of bills when she heard Sonata’s question. She looked up at her younger sister with a look of bewilderment for an instant before shrugging her shoulders and returning to her bill flipping.

“Well I guess you’ll just have to be motivational speaker instead of me tomorrow, Sonata.” She offhandedly said.

“Yeah, that’s what I told Celestia and Luna we’d do.” Aria just as offhandedly added before taking another bite of pizza.

“What?!” Sonata protested as she vehemently stood up and addressed Aria. “You just volunteered me to be motivational speaker tomorrow?!”

Aria didn’t respond right away as she still had pizza in her mouth. She took her time chewing and swallowing it though as Sonata continued to stare at her with a mixture of disbelief and anger in her eyes.

“Really, Sonata?” She eventually, and acrimoniously, replied. “Didn’t you volunteer all of us to chaperone this ski trip in the first place?”

Aria wasn’t wrong. Sonata had, in fact, volunteered all three of them without consulting either of her sisters beforehand. At the time she’d just been so excited about going on a ski trip she hadn’t thought about how Adagio or Aria would feel about the whole thing, but even after the fact she didn’t think either of them really minded that she’d spoken for them given the circumstance. Apparently though, Aria still had some hard feelings about it.

Realizing that she didn’t have much of a moral high ground to stand on here, Sonata ceased staring agitatedly at Aria and defeatedly sat back down.

“Okay, I’ll do it.” She conceded.

Neither Aria nor Adagio said anything in response. However, Aria did give Sonata a smug little smirk, most likely from feeling prideful at having bested her sister. All Adagio did was just continue to count the money in her hand, acting oblivious to anything else going on in the room.

As Sonata went back to eating her pizza, something about this whole situation continued to bother her. Celestia and Luna both knew the rotation her and her sisters used for which of them served as motivational speaker on a given day, so they would’ve known that Adagio was already set to be motivational speaker tomorrow. So why had they asked for her and Aria when they could’ve just asked for herself and Aria and left things as they were?

Why didn’t they want her help?

The next morning, the Dazzlings all woke up early to get ready for school. Although in Sonata’s case, it was more like she’d simply gotten up early, as she hadn’t really been able to fall asleep the previous night. The question of why Celestia and Luna didn’t want her help with the ski trip prep work continued to plague her mind all night, and it continued to do so into the wee hours of the morning. Even now as she took her morning shower.

“Did I do something to make them mad at me? Did I say something to make them mad at me?”” She somberly asked herself as water from the showerhead rained down upon her. “Was it because I bumped into Celestia in the hallway that one day and made her spill her coffee? Was it because Luna ended up getting sick from eating at that new taco place I told her about?”

Sonata knew, however, that Celestia and Luna weren’t the types to hold grudges, so the reason they didn’t ask for her help probably wasn’t because of any of those things. But this wasn’t comforting to the young Dazzling. In fact, it was almost disconcerting, because if their reason wasn’t because of anything she’d said or did at one point or another, then it could only be because of one thing; her. They just didn’t want her.

“No. No that can’t be it.” She anxiously tried to assure herself as she suddenly found it harder to breathe. “Celestia and Luna aren’t like that. T-They’re nice. They see value in me. T-They aren’t condescending or conceited at all.”

The more Sonata tried to convince herself that she was wrong in thinking that the principal and vice-principal didn’t want her, the stronger the idea became. No matter what nice things she said about Celestia and Luna, however true she knew they were, they didn’t dissuade her from believing that both of them didn’t want her. Soon enough, the idea became so strong that it started to seem like it was the truest thing in the world.

“They aren’t like that!” She hysterically went on as she curled up her right hand into a fist and slammed it against the wall, desperately wanting to believe her own words. “They aren’t like that!”

It was at this point that Sonata’s legs started to give out on her. Sensing that she was going to fall, the Dazzling quickly braced herself against the wall so that she would gently slide down it rather than just simply tumble straight down.

As Sonata slowly descended towards the shower floor, her mind began to reel with moments in her life where she’d been made to feel worthless and unwanted.

YOU PROMISED THAT GLEN WOULD BE FINE! She heard Aria’s voice scream inside her head, as the memory of when her sister’s beloved emu had died came flashing back to her. WELL HE’S NOT FINE, HE’S GONE! HE’S GONE AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!

Honestly, sometimes I think you’re not cut out for motherhood. She then heard Adagio’s voice say as she recalled the time her eldest sister had questioned her ability to raise her daughter, Dolly.

“They aren’t like that.” Sonata weakly continued to say as she finally stopped sliding down the wall and landed on her bottom.

It was slightly easier for Sonata to believe herself this time. She knew that the moments she was currently recalling with her sisters were instances brought upon by extreme emotional distress and insouciance. Aria and Adagio loved and cared about her, even if they didn’t always show it.

For the briefest of moments, Sonata actually started to feel better. That is, until she heard a new voice start to echo through her mind.

You’re the biggest disappointment I’ve ever seen. The new, harsh but still lovely sounding voice berated. I wish I’d never had you.

And just like that, Sonata was right back to feeling despondent as she wrapped her arms around her knees and curled up into a fetal position against the wall. It was difficult for her to tell whether or not she’d started crying at that moment, on account of the shower water continuing to rain down on her, but even if she wasn’t she sure felt like she was.

“They aren’t like Mom.” She dolorously sobbed.

Sonata just continued to lie there on the shower floor in despair for some time. The passage of time seemed to slow down or stop entirely to her, the only indication that it hadn’t being the steady shower of water coming down on her from above. She felt so lost, so helpless, so…unwanted. She’d often felt like this back when she was a young siren, but had forgotten what it truly felt like until now. It was the worst feeling in the world to her, and now it was hitting her like a wrecking ball that was perpetually swinging back and forth, delivering blow after devastating blow to her fragile psyche.

Why do I even bother with you? The voice of her mother continued to belittle her in her mind. You’re useless.

It wasn’t until Sonata heard the sound of violent knocking against the bathroom door who-knows-how-long later that the voices in her head finally ceased and she was able to snap out of her funk.

“Hey, Sonata!” Aria heatedly shouted from out in the hallway. “Save some hot water for the rest of us, will ya!”

“S-Sorry. I’ll be right out.” She more meekly shouted back as she picked herself back up and quickly went to work finishing her shower.

As Sonata hastily shampooed her hair, she contemplated whether or not she should say anything to Aria or Adagio about her little episode just now. Or rather, she contemplated it for the whole of about two seconds before coming to a decision.

“They’ll probably just think I’m making it up to try and get out of going to school today.” She said to herself as she finished shampooing and rinsing her hair.

Despite the fact that this would most likely be the case, Sonata really didn’t want to keep her anxiety attack to herself. She knew this wasn’t something she could just pretend didn’t happen, she needed to talk to someone about it, and either Aria, Adagio, or both of them were the best people to do so with. At least initially.

“I’ll tell them tonight after school.” She decided as she turned the shower off.

The drive into school that morning wasn’t as peaceful as it usually was for Sonata, mostly because she wasn’t alone in the car like she usually was. Heck, she wasn’t even the one driving like usual. She was currently in the back passenger’s side seat while Adagio sat in the front passenger’s seat and Aria drove. This meant that she couldn’t listen to her playlist of pop songs to help psych her up for the day. No, instead today she got to listen to some of Aria’s music since, as the driver, she had control of the radio in accordance with the Dazzling’s car rules. Right now she was being forced to listen to a song she found rather annoying about a bird being the word but that Aria liked because it reminded her of one of her favorite movies.

Needless to say, this wasn’t helping her general mood much.

“Hey, Aria, can you please play a different song?” She very politely asked her sister as she leaned forward and towards the console.

“Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?” Aria randomly replied in a surprisingly macho manner, causing both Sonata and Adagio to look at her with puzzled expressions.

“So…is that a ‘yes’, or…” Sonata then bewilderingly inquired.

“That’s a ‘no’.” Aria clarified, now talking normally.

Sonata just gave a dejected sigh as she leaned back against her seat, right as Adagio reached over and turned the radio off.

“Hey!” Aria shouted as she glared over at her older sister for a second before returning her attention to the road. “I’m driving so I get control of the radio, remember?!”

“Not if it’s going to make you act all crazy.” Adagio very sternly informed Aria.

Aria just gave an annoyed grunt as she turned the radio back on but lowered the volume a bit.

“Excuse me for making a little joke.” She peevishly remarked.

While this new drama between Aria and Adagio hadn’t exactly been peaceful for Sonata, it had at least resulted in the radio being turned down enough so that she could hear herself think again. She tried her best to ignore the music and focus on her own state of mind. Despite the morning she’d been having so far, she needed to be in top form by the time they got to CHS. After all, she was serving as motivational speaker today. She needed to be, well…motivational.

Before Sonata knew it, she and her sisters arrived at school with plenty of time before the first bell was supposed to ring.

“So where are we supposed to go to help with this ‘prep work’, Aria?” Adagio coolly asked as they all got out of the car.

“Luna’s office.” Aria indifferently replied.

“Hm.” Adagio simply uttered in response as she and Aria started making their way up the approach, followed closely behind by Sonata.

Even though Sonata was the one serving as motivational speaker today, for some reason she started to feel that she was a third wheel right now. Like she was the one who was at school for an unusual reason today. Not liking this feeling, she quickly made her way over to Adagio’s side so that they were all walking together just as they were about to enter the building.

As the Dazzlings approached the front entrance, Sonata got a momentary sense of déjà vu when she saw their reflection in the glass door. They were walking together the same way as the first time they’d come to CHS. The whole thing gave her a sense of perspective about how much things had changed for them in the past few months. Back then they had come to CHS to steal Equestrian magic, today they were coming to help people. Back then all they had was each other, now they had more friends than they could count, including her loving girlfriend, Rainbow Dash. It was enough to put a smile on her face, knowing that even though she was having a rough start to her day, things weren’t as bad as they used to be in general. And hopefully, they never would be that bad ever again.

She’d even started to forget why she’d been having a rough morning in the first place.

Now feeling like her usual happy-go-lucky self again, Sonata ran ahead a little and opened one of the glass doors.

“I got it!” She cheerfully said as she held it for her sisters.

“Uh, thanks, Sonata.” Adagio said in a perplexing manner as she entered the building.

Aria didn’t say anything as she stepped inside. She just silently stared at Sonata like she had two heads or something.

Sonata herself then entered the school and started following Adagio and Aria towards Luna’s office, since it was on the way to her office. None of them said anything to each other along the way, but just being with her sisters right now made her feel happy. It wasn’t long before they reached Luna’s office though and they had to split ways.

“We’ll see you after school, Sonata.” Adagio casually said as she and Aria stopped in front of the vice-principal’s door.

“Okay. Have a good day, girls!” Sonata replied as she waved goodbye to her sisters and kept on walking down the hallway.

About 15 seconds after she’d left her sisters, Sonata abruptly stopped walking down the hall as both a realization and an idea suddenly popped into her head.

“Dashie doesn’t know that I’m here today.” She began to think aloud. “I should totally surprise her by waiting for her at her locker!”

Now feeling even giddier because of the thought of seeing her girlfriend, Sonata turned around and started making her way towards the other end of the building where Rainbow Dash’s locker was located, a noticeable pep now in her step. Yes, there was no denying that the young Dazzling was back to her usual self all right. She felt like she didn’t have a care in the world as she made her way through the school. In that moment, her whole world seemed to be filled with nothing but sunshine, lollipops, and…smoke?

“Huh?” She uttered as she suddenly ceased walking about halfway to Rainbow’s locker, swearing that she smelled smoke coming from somewhere nearby.

Sonata sniffed the air a couple of times to be sure of her suspicions, and sure enough after only two sniffs there was no doubt about it; she was definitely smelling smoke. And not the kind of second-hand smoke that comes from having a cigarette. No, this was the kind of smoke that comes from something like a car being set on fire.

“Oh my gosh!” She started panicking as she hastily scanned her surroundings for any signs of smoke or fire. “Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh…”

After a few seconds of frantic searching, Sonata saw what looked to be a small cloud of thin, slightly transparent white smoke coming out from underneath a door about 20 feet to her left. She also happened to see a fire extinguisher located next to said door.

Without even thinking, the Dazzling rushed over to the fire extinguisher and swiftly removed it from its wall cabinet. She tried to remember how she’d seen people in movies and on TV use fire extinguishers and recalled that there was a pin she needed to remove before she could start using it. Quickly finding said pin, she removed it with her left hand and then grasped the nozzle, moving her right hand up to the trigger as she did this.

It’s worth noting that as Sonata was doing all this, she failed to notice the fire alarm right next to the extinguisher cabinet that she probably should’ve pulled from the get-go.

Now armed and ready to fight the fire, Sonata took a few quick, deep breaths to steel her courage before opening the door and, for some reason, closing her eyes before charging into the room.

“AAAAAH!” She shouted as she squeezed the trigger and started randomly spraying foam all around the place, not bothering to open her eyes to even look at where she was aiming.

“AH!” She heard a female voice shout out through the sound of the fire extinguisher spraying. “STOP, STOP!”

Upon hearing the voice telling her to stop, and also upon not feeling any heat from a fire, Sonata ceased spraying the extinguisher foam and opened her eyes to see Twilight Sparkle, practically covered in foam, standing in the middle of the room next to a table with a small, strange looking machine on it, which was also covered in foam.

“Sonata?” The Rainboom asked as she wiped some foam from her glasses.

Worried that the strange machine had caught fire, or possibly even semi-exploded, Sonata carelessly dropped the fire extinguisher on the ground and rushed over to Twilight to make sure she was all right.

“Twilight!” She alarmingly exclaimed as she grabbed the girl by the shoulders once she’d reached her. “Are you okay?! Did you get hurt by the fire?!”

“Fire?” Twilight confusedly inquired, trying her best not to inhale any foam near her mouth as she spoke. “What fire?”

“The fire that made all that smoke!” Sonata clarified as she started brushing as much foam as she could off of Twilight to see if she had any injuries.

At first Twilight had no idea what Sonata was talking about, but as soon as the Dazzling mentioned smoke she understood.

“Oh, that smoke wasn’t caused by a fire.” She explained as she too started removing as much foam as possible from her person. “It was just caused by my perpetual motion machine blowing a couple of fuses…again.”

With almost all the foam now off of Twilight and no visible injuries evident, Sonata breathed a sigh of relief that her friend was okay. This feeling of relief was immediately followed though by an even greater feeling of consternation about what she’d just done.

“There wasn’t a fire.” Sonata stated in a very deadpan manner.

“…No.” Twilight replied with a small hint of confusion in her voice, believing that she’d already made that clear.

It was at this point that a noticeable red blush began to appear on Sonata’s face.

“So I just sprayed you with a fire extinguisher for no real reason then.” She said as her blush slowly got darker.

“Um…I guess?” Twilight awkwardly replied.

By now the blush on Sonata’s face was so intense that she felt like her whole head was about to combust.

“Hehe…sorry.” She embarrassingly, but still sincerely, apologized with a delicate smile.

Admittedly, Twilight was a bit miffed at having been sprayed with a fire extinguisher so unnecessarily. But as she stared at the apologetic Dazzling’s dainty smile and remorseful eyes, she found that she couldn’t stay mad at her.

“It’s okay.” She assured Sonata. “I know you only did it because you thought there was a fire in here.”

For the second time in the last few minutes, Sonata felt a wave of relief wash over her. Despite this, however, she still felt enough embarrassment to fill her with a desire to find something, anything, to distract her from it.

“So, um, what did you say this thing was again?” She curiously asked as she walked closer to the nearby table and feigned interest in Twilight’s machine. “A perpetuity motion machine?”

Perpetual motion machine.” Twilight corrected her as she also diverted her attention to her machine. “It’s a machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy source…hypothetically at least. It’s long been theorized that such a device is an impossibility as it would violate the first two laws of thermodynamics, but given everything that I’ve seen magic is capable of doing in the past few months I believe that it just might be possible after all.”

Sonata didn’t quite know how to respond to all that. Much like math, science had never been her strong suit, so she wasn’t exactly sure she followed much of what Twilight had just said…if anything.

“Wow. Sounds neat.” She simply remarked in a cheerful manner, trying to give the impression that she’d understood every science-y word Twilight had said.

“It is neat, isn’t it!” The adorkable girl blithely agreed as she looked up at the Dazzling. “The only problem is that I can’t find a way to keep the fuses from blowing before I can get any concrete data on whether perpetual motion is being achieved or not.”

As soon as Sonata heard Twilight mention that she was having a problem, something in her mind just flickered on like a light switch and compelled her to ask the following question.

“Do you want some help?”

Immediately after Sonata asked that question, she mentally started to question why she’d just asked it. She knew she didn’t know anything about ‘perpetuity motion’ or thermaldynamics’, so why the heck had she just asked Twilight if she wanted help creating a machine that dealt with such things?

Despite these things, however, she just had a strong desire to be helpful to Twilight in that moment.

“Um, well…” Twilight hesitantly started to say as she contemplated Sonata’s offer. “…I guess I could use some help, but…I’m not exactly sure how you’d help me, Sonata.”

Sonata could feel her heart start to race in her chest as soon as she heard Twilight’s reply to her question.

“W-Well, I could help you with your fuses that keep blowing.” She anxiously said.

“Do you have an understanding of electrical and mechanical engineering?” Twilight then inquired.

“N-No.” Sonata apprehensively replied.

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence between the two girls as they each just looked off to their side, both of them unsure what to say to the other next.

“Listen, Sonata, I appreciate the offer. I really do.” Twilight eventually, and very gently, said. “But, to be perfectly honest…I-I don’t think you can help me with this.”

Just then, Sonata’s heart seemed to stop. In fact, all of time seemed to stop. It was happening again, just like in the shower earlier. She was starting to feel unwanted and useless again, and it was bringing her to the precipice of another anxiety attack.

Idiot. She heard Adagio say within her mind.

You’re the worst. She then heard Aria say.

You’ll never amount to anything. Her mother’s voice then rang out, sending her over the breaking point.

“Please, Twilight! Please let me help you!” She hysterically shouted as she suddenly reached out and grabbed hold of Twilight by the arms in a vice-like grip. “I’ll do anything. I-I’ll get you coffee, I’ll let you use me as a human Guinea pig, anything! JUST PLEASE LET ME HELP YOU!”

“SONATA!” Twilight fearfully shouted as she desperately tried to break free of the Dazzling’s hold. “Y-YOU’RE HURTING ME!”

Quickly coming to her senses and realizing what it was she was doing, Sonata immediately let go of Twilight and backed up a few steps for good measure. What had she done? Why had she done it? These questions and more ran through her mind as she stared at Twilight, who was rubbing her arms where she’d been grabbed with a pained expression on her face. It was then every question but one left Sonata’s mind, and the one that remained was ‘Is Twilight okay’.

Despite wanting to ask her friend if she was okay or not, and to apologize profusely for her actions, Sonata couldn’t utter so much as a single word in that moment. The sense of distress she was feeling right then had caused her to start panting frantically to the point where she wasn’t even sure if she was breathing properly. Even still though, she tried her best to communicate her regret and remorse.

“I…I’m s-sorry.” She softly managed to get out as a few tears started to run down her cheeks. “I’m so…s-so sorry.”

Once the initial pain of being held so hard dissipated, Twilight looked up to see what a wreck Sonata currently was. She didn’t understand why the Dazzling had grabbed her like she had, but as she looked at Sonata’s now tear-stained face she knew that it had to have been because of some sort of deep emotional distress, one that she instinctively wanted to help the girl through.

“I-It’s okay, Sonata.” She gently tried to assure her.

“N-No, it’s not.” Sonata sobbed as she fell to her knees and brought her hands up to her face. “I-I’m not only useless, I’m d-dangerous too.”

Where’s all this coming from? Twilight silently wondered as she watched Sonata cry her eyes out.

Soon enough, the scene became more than the Rainboom could handle. Without hesitation, she quickly moved in front of the Dazzling, got down on her knees, and wrap her in a supportive hug.

“Shh, it’s okay.” She soothingly whispered. “You’re okay.”

Despite wishing that Twilight wasn’t so close to her right now, on account of her self-perceived dangerous disposition, Sonata didn’t fight the hug. She just continued to cry out her feelings until she couldn’t cry anymore. And when that did eventually happen, she lowered her hands from her face and wrapped her arms around Twilight to return the hug.

“I’m so sorry, Twilight.” She once again apologized. “I’m so, so, so sorry.”

“It’s okay, Sonata.” Twilight reiterated for about the third time now before breaking the hug so that the Dazzling could look at her. “See? I’m fine. You’re not dangerous.”

As Sonata looked at where she’d grabbed Twilight’s arms, she saw a few red finger-like marks on each arm but thankfully no bruises or scars or anything like that. Now realizing that she hadn’t hurt Twilight too much, Sonata silently conceded that the Rainboom was right and that she wasn’t dangerous.

“And you’re not useless either.” Twilight assuredly added.

This, however, Sonata wasn’t so easily convinced of as being true.

“Of course I’m useless.” She dejectedly retorted as she looked off to the side. “Nobody wants or needs me. I’m just…nothing.”

Twilight could sense the strong conviction in Sonata’s voice as she berated herself. She’d never heard someone say such self-deprecating things so assuredly before, and she found it to be incredibly heartbreaking. Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing she’d ever experienced.

“Why would you say those things?” She agitatedly asked. “What could possibly make you think such awful things are true?”

Once again, time seemed to stop for Sonata in that moment. Not because she was close to another anxiety attack like before, but because she had a difficult decision to make; share her recent tribulations with Twilight, or keep them to herself. Of course, she had already made a partial decision earlier in the day to tell her sisters about them after school, but sharing them now with Twilight? She wasn’t so sure.

It wasn’t that Sonata didn’t trust Twilight or anything. Like with the rest of the Rainbooms they’d become friends ever since she started working as one of CHS’s motivational speakers. No, Sonata’s main fear with confiding within Twilight was that she wouldn’t understand what it was she was feeling. She knew she hadn’t been through the same thing she and her sisters had, didn’t have the same fears and insecurities that she did. So could she really open up to her the way she was asking her to now?

However, as Sonata continued to look at Twilight she saw something in the girl’s eyes that helped her make her decision. It was compassion; the same kind of compassion she’d seen dozens of times in Rainbow Dash’s eyes when she’d confided in her. She sometimes forgot just how much the Rainbooms were all alike deep down. How any of them would move mountains to help someone they considered a friend, or even a friend of a friend. And that was enough for her.

“…Celestia and Luna didn’t want my help.” She tepidly confessed as she lowered her head, feeling fresh tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes.

“What do you mean?” Twilight gingerly inquired.

“Celestia and Luna didn’t want my help with the prep work for the ski trip.” Sonata dolefully clarified. “They wanted Aria and Adagio specifically, even though they knew today was supposed to be Adagio’s day as motivational speaker. Which means that they specifically didn’t want my help…because I’m useless, just like my mom always said I was.”

Twilight couldn’t help but give an audible gasp after hearing that last part.

“Y-You’re mom used to tell you you were useless?!” She asked in total disbelief.

“Yeah. She wasn’t very nice.” Sonata somberly answered. “She used to tell my sisters and I stuff like that all the time. Stuff like ‘I can’t believe I gave birth to someone as pathetic as you’ and ‘You’re nothing but a disappointment and always will be’. No matter how hard we tried to please her she would never say anything nice to us, even when we did exactly what she wanted us to.”

The more Twilight heard Sonata talk about her mom, the more she began to understand why the Dazzling had been so distressed earlier. She’d studied enough psychology to realize that Sonata’s strong desire to be helpful was an attempt to seek the validation she never got from her mom. She wanted someone to treat her as a person who was useful, as someone who had value.

Fortunately though, the Rainboom had just the information that was sure to make Sonata feel better about herself.

“Sonata, I’m so sorry you were made to feel that way.” She ardently told the distraught Dazzling. “But I can assure you that Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna don’t think you’re useless.”

As much as Sonata wanted to believe Twilight’s words regarding Celestia and Luna, she just found them difficult to believe without any evidence to back them up.

“You don’t know that.” She dejectedly replied as she wiped the tears from her face.

“I do know it.” Twilight retorted with no shortage of conviction. “I know it because I heard them say the exact opposite yesterday.”

Sonata’s head involuntarily popped up when she heard this. She also dawned an expression of both curiosity and skepticism, finding herself intrigued by Twilight’s claim of hearing what Celestia and Luna had said about her, yet leery about how she’d heard it.

“W-What do you mean?” She curiously asked.

“I was in Principal Celestia’s office yesterday when she and Vice-Principal Luna were talking about needing help with the prep work.” Twilight clarified. “Well, I was waiting right outside her office when they were talking about it, but I could still hear what they were saying.”

“For realizes?!” Sonata excitedly inquired as a small spark of hope ignited within her.

“Uh-huh.” Twilight confirmed. “I was there to ask about using this room for testing my perpetual motion machine. Anyways, when Principal Celestia proposed asking you and your sisters for help, Vice-Principal Luna said, and I quote, ‘If we went with that option then I’d like it to be Aria and Adagio who help us, so that way Sonata would be the motivational speaker tomorrow’.”

There were a couple of ways Sonata could interpret Luna’s remark. One way was that the vice-principal had wanted Aria and Adagio’s help and that her being motivational speaker would just be a consequence of that, which was more or less the Dazzling’s assumption from the start. The other, and more optimistic way of looking at it, was that Luna had wanted Aria and Adagio’s help because she wanted her to be motivational speaker.

Sonata wanted to believe the more optimistic interpretation, but she needed more information first.

“W-What else did they say.” She inquired.

“Well, after that Principal Celestia said, ‘I agree. Most of the students seem to prefer it when Sonata is motivational speaker. I think it would be best to ask for Aria and Adagio’s help then’.” Twilight said.

And just like that, the little spark of hope within Sonata exploded like a supernova.

“T-They both really s-said that?” She asked Twilight as tears of joy started to well-up in the corners of her eyes. “Y-You’re not just m-making all this up t-to make me feel better?”

“I’m not making it up, Sonata.” Twilight earnestly assured her. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

There were no words to describe the warm and happy feeling Sonata felt within that moment. Celestia and Luna hadn’t made their decision based on not wanting her, but because they had wanted her. And not only that, but they wanted her over Aria and Adagio! Never in her life had she been desired over her sisters in such a way. It was all too much to keep inside, and she wrapped her arms around Twilight as she broke down not in an anxiety attack, but in a fit of gaiety.

“T-Thank you, T-Twilight!” She gratefully bawled as she held her friend tight. “Thank you s-so much for t-telling me that!”

Happy that Sonata was feeling better now, Twilight gladly returned the hug. Though not as tightly.

“Don’t mention it.” She simply replied. “Happy to help.”

The two girls continued to hold each other for about a minute before Sonata decided to break the hug and get up.

“So, um, I guess I’ll just leave you to work on your perpetuity motion machine then.” She said with a hint of embarrassment in her voice.

Twilight couldn’t help but give a small giggle as she also got up off the floor, finding it amusing that Sonata was still calling her invention a perpetuity motion machine.

“Actually, I was wondering if you’d be willing to be my assistant on this project." She amiably said. “I-If you still want to help me that is.”

“Of course I still want to help you!” Sonata vigorously replied as she dawned a wide, jubilant smile and grabbed hold of the Rainboom’s shoulders, making sure to be mindful of how much strength she was using. “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it!”

“Um, okay then.” Twilight semi-anxiously replied, feeling a little uncomfortable by the Dazzling’s smile and close proximity. “How about you start by…getting us some coffee?”

“Coffee! Yes ma’am!” Sonata stoutly said as she let go of Twilight, gave a quick salute, and dashed out of the room like a bat out of Hell.

Now alone, Twilight couldn’t help but contemplate what she’d just done by asking Sonata to assist her. Despite having done what she felt was the right thing to do for the Dazzling, she couldn’t help but feel that maybe she’d made a huge mistake in terms of the success of her project.

“Come on, come on.” Sonata said as she impatiently waited in the faculty lounge for the coffee to brew.

When Twilight had asked her to go get them some coffee the first place she’d thought of going was to the convenience store down the street, but she soon remembered that the faculty lounge usually had a pot going by this time in the morning. Usually. Today proved the exception, however, and so she was forced to wait for her joe to be made, making her wish she’d just gone to the convenience store like originally planned.

“At least it’ll be fresh.” She sighed as she continued to wait, trying to find what silver-lining she could out of this unwanted delay.

Just as the coffee started to pour into the pot, Sonata heard the door open and looked to see who was entering the room.

“Principal Celestia!” She exclaimed in surprise.

“Oh, Sonata.” The principal replied in her usual pleasant tone. “I’m glad I ran into you. I wanted to thank you for coming in today. I know you weren’t scheduled to, so I apprecia-“

Celestia abruptly stopped talking as Sonata suddenly wrapped her arms around her in a great big hug.

“Thank you.” The Dazzling warmly and sincerely said.

“You’re…welcome?” Celestia awkwardly replied, feeling very confused at the moment. “Um, just to be clear, what are you thanking me for exactly, Sonata.”

“Just for everything, mo-er…ma’am.” Sonata wholeheartedly answered as she let go of her boss and looked up at her with fondness and admiration.

“Oh, well, I…appreciate your gratitude.” The principal then said, unable to think of anything else to say. “But if you’ll excuse me I need to…leave…now.”

And with that, Celestia left the room just as quickly as she’d arrived.

“Okay, bye.” Sonata innocently said just before returning to the coffee, having found nothing that had just transpired between herself and Celestia to be odd or unusual in any way.

Soon enough the coffee pot was filled and Sonata poured a cup for Twilight and a cup for herself. As she left the faculty lounge and headed back to Twilight’s room with coffee in hand, she found herself thinking about how lucky she was to have people like Twilight, Celestia, and her sisters in her life. People who saw value within her, even when she didn’t see it within herself.

Author's Note:

Forgive me if some of the science in this chapter is wrong. Science was never my strong suit. :twilightblush:

The next chapter will be the prelude to the finale, and will feature Adagio, Aria, and Sonata.