“... and we are absolutely, definitely, no questions asked, not going anywhere near Sunset Shimmer,” Adagio declared, concluding her presentation of The Plan with a flick of her wrist and a bold flourish of the chalk she’d been scrawling on the blackboard with. “Are we clear?”
“... but she’s a bitch, so I thought it’d be funny to screw with her and do the exact opposite of that,” Aria explained to Sunset.
Sunset squirmed—the bathroom stall Aria’d dragged her into didn’t leave much room for them, but it was out of Adagio’s sight and scheming on a budget hadn’t left many better options.
“Ah,” Sunset said. She blinked, then held up a quizzical index finger. “Sorry, what did you have in mind, exactly?”
Aria shrugged. “I dunno. I guess, like, hang out and stuff. Piss her off, y’know.”
“Ah. So hanging out, just… more dangerous and edgy than usual?”
“I was going more for ‘badass’ than ‘edgy,’ but sure. Been too long since I was a good bad influence for someone.”
“Most people wouldn’t celebrate that.”
“Siren, remember? Bit more to it than lazing about in skimpy loungewear and bitching at the world for not building you a palace unprompted.”
Sunset’s mouth hung open for a moment, and then she shrugged. “Fair point. So, um…”
Aria started to reply, when, in the distance, a faint, grating screeching grabbed every other sound in the building and battered them all into hushed, demoralized silence.
“That’s Adagio. I should go.” Aria opened up the stall door, then turned. “We’ll, I dunno, set some fires after school sometime?”
“Not that, but sure.”
Adagio took the news pretty well, when she’d presented her plan for the day and Aria stood up to reject it.
“... So, while I’d love to go out ‘shopping’ and give you an opportunity to assert your dominance with large quantities of hair and cleavage, no. Sunset and I are going to a gig tonight.”
Aria stepped outside the door, and paused. One second passed. Two. Three.
Aria slammed the door behind her, cracked her neck, rolled her shoulders, and grinned. It’s gonna be a good day, she thought as she tread down on the phone book Adagio had thrown at her.
The bliss of making her entire day a metaphorical middle finger to Adagio’s face dried up awfully quickly when she reached the sobering realization that it was still Sunset she’d be hanging out with. Sunset, whose aura of unfalteringly trite happy-go-lucky naivete was palpable and whose reaction to the sea of spikes, tattoos, piercings and eye shadow was a quiet kind of wonder.
“So,” Sunset asked, folding her arms—which were sheathed in edgy, trying-too-hard black leather—as she walked next to Aria. “Who’s playing first tonight?”
Aria shrugged her shoulders—which were wrapped in badass, if-you-like-your-fingers-don’t-touch-me black leather. “ ‘Kicking Babies’.”
Sunset nodded. “They any good?”
“Dunno, haven’t listened to them in a while.”
“But you’ve liked them?”
“They’re death metal. They’re not trying to make you ‘like’ things.” Aria stifled a scoff, picturing Adagio scowling and fuming at home and letting that image make her smile as she tuned Sunset out.
The music started, and the world’s best kind of discord ushered her into a furious nirvana.
The music raged, pounded, and died a slow death, as all things must. One last heavily distorted chord was the tombstone, one last growling chorus a morbidly dignified funerary dirge.
And then there was Sunset, giddily giggling in brazen defiance of the gloomy event horizon every other soul in the building had long since passed.
To say it was embarrassing wouldn’t quite have been right—the moment Aria had discovered the feeling of shame, she’d found the part of her that made that feeling, savagely bit it out with her teeth, and never spoken of it again.
But it was annoying, so she dragged Sunset to the gloomiest of corners, the darkest, loneliest place in a sanctuary of absence and desolation.
“Could you keep it down, please?” Aria hissed under her breath. “People are trying to hate the world, and it’s hard if there’s someone enjoying it.”
“Oh. Oh, sorry.” Sunset cleared her throat, trembling with residual excitement. “Are they always like this?”
Aria glanced towards the now-empty stage. “Eh. They’ve never been the same after they decided to one-up their competition by setting themselves on fire. They’re still intense, though.”
“They were definitely that. I guess tuning is too conformist for some?”
“Tuning makes you a puppet of The Man.”
Sunset giggled. “Or of the twelve-year-old boy, if it’s Drop-D.”
“You are so awful, you—” Aria paused mid-eye-roll and—not eagerly, because eagerness was for the pointlessly hopeful—focused her eyes on Sunset. “Did you just make a shitty guitar joke?”
“Yeah, not my best, I know. Uh, hang on, maybe I can—”
“Yeah, but it was a shitty guitar joke.”
Sunset’s eyes brightened as her grin returned. “Oh, right, gotcha. Yeah, I play a bit.”
Aria cocked an eyebrow. “Electric? Or bitch?”
Gears turned in Aria’s head. “You know…” She cut herself off, remembering she was talking to Sunset, and rolled her eyes. “Oh, but let me guess: Daisy Rock?”
“What? God, no!” Sunset scoffed indignantly. “No, I’m not prepubescent, I don’t have a Daisy Rock. Try Flying V.”
Aria underwent a mild existential crisis.
Sunset frowned worriedly. “Is everything okay? You’re kinda spacing out.”
“Wha? Oh, right. Yeah, uh, totally. No, I’m just kinda freaking out because I’m allowed to like you now and it’s kind of turning my world upside down.”
Sunset shrugged her shoulders—which were clad in sorta-cool-if-you-squint black leather. Her mouth opened, then her attention twitched away from Aria. “Oh! Looks like the next band’s…”
“Huh? Oh, right.” Aria cleared her throat, and an initial wave of applause and tumult drowned out her mumble of “We’re seeing each other again.” By the time she finished saying it, Sunset’s hair had started whipping, and she couldn’t help but join in.
The garage, Aria’s home-away-from-bedroom, had almost gone quiet.
“... You are a hair’s breadth from being dead to me.”
“Oh, come on.” Nervous giggles spilled out of Sunset like she was a toddler’s freshly-punctured balloon. The shame she felt was palpable as the echoes of the first few aborted notes of her peppy pop-rock song faded away. “That’s not fair.”
“Fine, you’re not dead to me.” Aria rolled her eyes. “But there’s six feet of snow on the ground, the nearest shelter is on top of a mountain, there’s a bear on your heels, and you’re naked.”
Sunset tilted her head, then looked down at herself and shrugged. “...A hypothermia patient's gotta do something to get to the front of the hospital queue, right?”
Aria refused to follow Sunset’s gaze—she didn’t want to feel like Sunset deserved a compliment. “Seriously, though, what the fuck? You blew the money on something this cool and then only use it for boring shit like that?”
“No, I only use it for ‘cheerful’, um… stuff.”
“Same difference. C’mon. It’s a guitar. You’re wasting its potential by stifling it like that. You’re clipping its wings by playing it when you could be rocking out with it. You’re—anyway. We’re here to rebel against Adagio’s oppressive regime, and that means we want to tell all those wholesome boundaries you might’ve liked to fuck off and die screaming in the deepest, loneliest pit we can find.”
“Huh. Okay, yeah, I’m game.” Sunset looked at Aria for a moment, looking as though she was about to say something; her smile changed for a moment.
Aria lifted an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”
“Hmm? Oh, no, just the opposite.” Sunset ran her fingers over her guitar, looking down at it thoughtfully. “I was wondering why you bothered with this stuff when you had your magic, but I think you just answered it.”
“Yeah, well. Siren magic’s great for ‘look at me, I’m the prettiest,’ not so fantastic for ‘eat a dick’, y’know?”
“No, but I think I understand.”
“Good.” Aria killed the moment with fire before it could infect any more of her time. “Right, so, Adagio and Sonata are probably gonna be back in a half hour or so. Let’s give this another try.”
“Okay,” Aria said, half-smiling as a final flick of her wrist sent a jagged, badass chord out to pummel the weak, conforming air into submission. “We’re gonna do it exactly like that, just less like we’re perky schoolgirls and more like we’re crotch-hunting sledgehammers.”
“... So after she threw you out, Adagio said I was grounded,” Aria said as she sank a little deeper into Sunset’s couch, “and then her voice went so high I couldn’t hear her anymore, so I just kinda sat there and stared until she got bored and stormed off to her room.”
Sunset nodded sagely. On the screen in front of them, at the behest of Sunset’s fingers and the controller they grasped, a violent defenestration sent a torrent of person-bits into the air. “Siren thing?”
Aria nodded. Her virtual representation skateboarded down the side of a skyscraper slick with sticky person-juice. “Siren thing.”
“So if you’re grounded, how’re you…”
“Oh, she probably knows I’m gone by now. I’m just hoping she doesn’t know where you live.”
“Huh.” Sunset looked contemplative for a moment, then eyed the game console they’d been glued to. “I could bring this the next time I come over, you know.”
Aria looked at Sunset. “Hmm?” In her moment of distraction, a monster truck pancaked her character into the ground.
“Oh, well. If you stay home, but also play loud video games, you’re kinda doing what she asked you to do, just, y’know, totally not doing what she wants you to do.”
Aria thought for a moment, then grinned. “I like the way you think.”
It was like nothing had changed except for the scenery; only half-aware of how she’d ended up there, Aria sank into her couch, eyes idly glued to the television in front of her while Sunset joined her.
“I’m kinda surprised you don’t have anything like this yourself, to be honest,” Sunset said as she picked up a controller.
“Eh.” Aria shrugged. “I had other things to do, and pissing off Adagio wasn’t worth it until it started being funny.”
Sunset nodded. “How is she, by the way? The way you talked about her, I’d think she’d have some choice words when you came back home after last time.”
“Well, first of all, I had about sixty bajillion texts with pictures of all the ‘fun’ she and Sonata were having without me.”
Sunset tilted her head and looked to Aria. “When you say “ ‘fun’ ”, what do you…”
“Oh, she and Sonata apparently dragged your old boytoy out to a mall with them, dressed him up like a ballerina, and then ran about ninety thousand skimpy outfits by him so he could think about all the action he wasn’t getting.”
A pause, and then Sunset giggled. “You’re showing me those pictures later, because that sounds adorable.”
Aria cracked a leering grin and suavely leaned back on the couch. “Then I found a dismembered mannequin painted and dressed like me in the garage.”
Sunset’s eyes went wide. “Wow. Sounds like Adagio—”
“So she actually took it pretty well, all things considered.”
“Oh. I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, she doesn’t believe in half-assing.”
“Talking of which…” Sunset groped for the remote, jacked up the volume, and threw her head back to hurl out a theatrically exaggerated cackle.
Aria’s lips spread into a broad grin. “Yeah, Sunset!” she shouted. “Kick his ass! Stab hi—oh, that motherfucking horse!—no, no, stand by that big plate thing—fuck yeah!—up the club, skewer that—”
Just as Sunset whooped with the pure unadulterated joy that could only be brought out by wanton virtual cold-blooded murder, a slamming door upstairs made the whole building shake.
Aria and Sunset shared a look, then snickered.
Upstairs, another slam, a startled, girlishly squeaky “D—Dagi? What’re you—?” and then another slam heralded Adagio’s meteoric descent down the stairs, dragging Sonata by the arm to, without once acknowledging Aria’s existence, march out the front door.
Aria and Sunset shared another look.
What followed was, without question, the most satisfying high five of Aria’s life.
The real trick to being rebellious, Aria knew better than most, was making it not just a habit, but a lifestyle. Which meant practicing it in the times most people wouldn’t.
Take lunch, for example. She could’ve just sat down next to Adagio’s seat, business as usual. Instead, as she neared the table, she stood in front of her seat, took a step to the left, and craned her neck to peer through the crowd of shambling, lunch-seeking students. “Hey, Sunset, over here!”
It didn’t take long for Sunset to show her smiley face. “Hi Aria!” She eyed the table. “Where’re…”
“Ah, don’t worry about it.” Aria gestured to the chair she’d have sat in any other day. “Hey, why don’t you take this one? I wanna… have a better view of the windows anyway. Or something.”
“Sure. So. How’re things?”
“Ah, y’know.” Aria dropped herself into the chair in front of her. “Adagio’s probably had a few violent hate-frigging sessions this week, so I’m calling it a good one.”
“But she hasn’t, like… I dunno…” Sunset sounded vaguely concerned, which was probably a good way to be talking about Adagio.
“Nah, she’ll be fine. We’ve pulled this kinda shit on each other before. She’ll fume for a little while, but once she gets her act together she’ll figure out some way to get back at me, and then I’ll get back at her, and then we just kinda spiral off into an endless cycle of bitchcraft.”
“Huh. Well, I’m—”
A flicker of Sunset’s eyes was the only warning Aria got before a mass of shiny fluffy hair filled her vision and a warm, shapely mass tightly squeezed by skanky, attention-demanding fabric plopped into her lap. “Wha—Adagio, what the fu—”
“You were in my spot,” Adagio said, calmly pinching her fork between two dainty fingers as if it wasn’t a squirming badass teenager she was sitting on. “But it’s still my spot.”
A growl rumbled up out of Aria’s throat before she heard a cheerful, Sunset-ish giggle and her “Don’t be a lil’ bitch” instincts kicked in. She cleared her throat, coolly folded her arms—she gave up trying to look past Adagio’s gigantic thundercloud of hair after a moment and settled for boring into it with her eyes—and said, “So, does this make you my lapdog now?”
A snicker from across the table turned her defiant stare into a smug one.
Adagio set her fork down and leaned forward. It would’ve been impressive, how seamlessly she could shift from, “Domineering bitch-queen from Tartarus” to “Hopelessly distressed damsel,” if the resulting simper wasn’t so grating.
“Sunset, you—you’re the magic expert around here, aren’t you? Go around solving magic problems, that kind of thing?” Adagio leaned forward, and her whisper took on a conspiratory tone that might as well have been a slap in Aria’s face. “My chair’s talking to me. Think you could look into that one of these days?”
Aria clenched her teeth, something white-hot and roaring blazing to life in her heart. She opened her mouth, ready to let that furious torrent reveal itself—
—Adagio slowly, calmly stood up, flicking her hair just so to flash a glimpse of her rarely-seen, obnoxiously smug rump. “Well, girls, it’s been lovely, but all this talking’s ruined my appetite. See you around!” she sang as she sauntered off.
Curling her lip, clenching a hand into a tight fist, Aria started to rise only to stop when Sunset leaned across and put a hand on hers. “Hey, let it go. We’ll get back at her later anyway, right?”
Aria glared at Sunset, then at Adagio’s undulating, increasingly-distant backside.
“Yeah,” Aria said eventually. “Yeah, we will.”
Later that afternoon, the sounds of Aria and Sunset’s guitars had just started to die out, a hectic, frenzied song concluded. Aria huffed out a breath, slumping into the couch. “You know…” She looked upwards, towards what she knew to be the floor of Adagio’s bedroom. “She hasn’t stormed out yet, and she hasn’t come down to yell at us either.”
Sunset frowned. “Huh. I hadn’t realized, but yeah, we’ve been at it for a while now.”
Aria swore under her breath. “She might be getting better at tuning us out.”
“You think so?”
“One time, she went a whole day pretending Sonata didn’t exist so she could have a funeral for her old hair drier in privacy. She can be awfully hard to distract, when she puts her mind to it.” Aria sank back into the couch, folding her arms. “Which means loud noise might not cut it anymore.”
Sunset put her controller down and tilted her head thoughtfully. “What if…” Her voice petered off for a moment, and then she cleared her throat. “No, that’s, um—”
Aria cocked an eyebrow. “What were you thinking of?”
“Never mind.” Sunset waved her hand. “It’s stupid.”
“If you’re trying to discourage me, you’ll need a different strategy.”
“Fair point!” Sunset giggled. Then she turned to face Aria. “Right, so. It’s not just the noise Adagio dislikes, right? She’s also not a fan of you spending time with me.”
Aria nodded. “Yep.” She felt an unrequested-but-not-unwelcome smile playing on her lips. “Where are you going with this?”
“What if, in front of her…” Sunset swallowed, biting her lip—a faint blush came to her cheeks. “... we kissed?”
Aria looked at Sunset for a moment.
“Bitchin’,” she said,” let’s do it.”
“You’re sure? If you don’t want to, I’ll—”
“No, really, I’m just retroactively deeply offended that it took so long for you to suggest it.”
“Alright,” Aria said, checking the time on her phone. “I think they’re coming home soon.” She eyed the front door to her house, then looked to Sunset. “You ready?”
“I think so. How are we gonna… y’know, like just a quick peck, or—?”
“Eh, I was just thinking we’d wing it. Scheduling it’s sucked a lot of the fun out of it anyway, I bet. No reason to make it worse, right?”
“Fair point. Right, so—”
“You don’t have to, you know. I mean, if you’re having second thoughts or performance anxiety, I’d, you know, I’d get it. We could, like, turn all her clothes inside out or something, if you—”
The door opened.
Aria tensed, froze, and suddenly a pair of lips were mashed against her own. She didn’t know who initiated it—it had happened just the same, and it made her feel warm and sexy and—
“Hi girls!” Sonata chirped as she skipped past with her trendily flouncy skirt swishing merrily. “I wanna cook, so keep your smooches out of the kitchen, ‘kay?”
Aria’s eyes went wide; intimately close to hers, Sunset’s did too. They separated quickly, and the pleasant heat from the kiss quickly turned into a flustered, frantic one.
And yet a pair of darting glances showed no sign of Adagio.
“One sec,” Aria said, gesturing absent-mindedly to a still-dazed Sunset as she lurched after Sonata and cornered her in the kitchen. “Sonata, is Adagio with you?”
“Hmm? Oh, no, sorry—” Sonata shoved a big bowl into the microwave, pressed a few buttons, then spun to face Aria. “On the walk back, she saw a cute couple taking a selfie in the park, so she photobombed, flashed them, and then ran off cackling while their new crippling inadequacy set them on a path for a nasty breakup.”
“At least she didn’t charge them for the privilege this time,” Aria said.
“I think they tried to throw some money at her as she was going, though.” Sonata turned and eyed the microwave as if it shared her tendency to burst into action the second it looked like she had even the slightest bit of attention. “But that’s the last I saw of her. She’ll probably be back in a bit.”
Aria stared for a moment, then abruptly spun on her heel and hurried back to Sunset.
Sunset faced her, coolly. Aria went up to her, with exactly none of her usual thuggish swagger compromised by the warmth in her face, and stuttered—suavely stuttered, because she was Aria fucking Blaze: “So… I guess we’ll have to do this some other time?”
There was a faintly audible ding, and then Sunset shrugged and nodded. “... I’m pretty okay with that.”
Aria nodded—she was very definitely not pleased, not really, just totally ambivalent because duh who the fuck would be stupid enough to turn down an offer to kiss her again what was that pounding was that her heart why couldn’t she shut that damn thing off—
She shook her head. Then nodded, and—suavely, still—leaned against the door. “... You know, she’ll probably be even more pissed if we’re better at it—
Sunset kissed her, Aria felt warm and fluttery and sexy, and Sonata crunched loudly on a piece of popcorn.
Aria and Sunset looked towards Sonata, who was sitting with a big bowl of fresh popcorn in her lap, unblinking eyes trained squarely on them.
“Oh, don’t mind me,” she said, waving her hand and doing the exact opposite of looking away.
Aria rolled her eyes. “You’re making it weird, Sonata.”
“... and one of the most iconic landmarks of this great old city was its Great Library. It was founded by Star Swirl as a repository of knowledge, a shrine to the nine goddesses of the arts—the Muses, as they were called—and it endured up until…”
The teacher droned on and on, his voice somehow combining the inexhaustible drone of a manic beehive and the timeless stupor of a sloth drowning in honey.
Aria rolled her eyes. She peeked underneath her desk, where she cradled her phone in her hands, extracted the essence of her current state into a word, and sent it to Sunset via text.
A few moments later, her phone buzzed. Yeah, same. Know this stuff from horse.
Aria frowned. … ‘horse’?
Faster to type.
A moment passed. Aria rested her cheek on her palm, letting her rolling eyes drift towards Sunset, who sat two rows over and sent a weary look in return.
Aria muttered, then looked up at the ceiling. Then she tilted her head and eyed Sunset again.
… Are you wearing lipstick?
Sunset looked down at her phone, then over to Aria. She shrugged. And then she winked coyly. Coquettishly, even!
And let it never be said that Aria didn’t respond to coquettish winks like a champ.
Aria flipped through her textbook, then picked up her phone.
I’m gonna send you a dick pic.
She heard a stifled-but-audible snrrk, and glanced slyly over to see Sunset covering up a rebellious smile. Sunset stole a look, then almost let out a snicker when Aria sent a text and waggled her eyebrows.
A pause. Sunset snickered again, then lurched to stillness when the teacher twitched, though she couldn’t hide her dopey grin.
Aria’s phone twitched.
… This is a picture of Star Swirl.
Aria and Sunset shared another glance—the former shrugged.
If he’s too small, I’ll find you another one, but he’s the biggest dick I have on hand.
Sunset covered her brow with her palm.
“Hey,” Sunset said as she caught up to Aria, after class had come to a merciful end, flashing a perky grin. “You doing anything after school?”
Aria stuffed her hands into the pockets of her fetchingly-torn jeans. “Planning that far in advance cramps my style. Why?”
“Oh, I was just wondering if you… maybe wanted to stop by Sugarcube Corner with me afterwards. Get milkshakes or something.”
Aria hesitated for a moment. First time Sunset had suggested something outside of the ‘screw with Adagio’ goal, and that was what she’d come up with? “Oh. Like… on the way back home, you mean?”
“Y—yeah. It’s pretty much on the way for you, right?” Sunset’s own enthusiasm seemed to be waning a bit too.
“Y’know, I… should probably walk Sonata home. Don’t want her getting lost or anything.”
“You live, like, five blocks away. How lost can she get?”
“Last time? Saddle Arabia.”
“Ah. Well, um. She could come too, if she wanted to?”
“Eh… babysitting’s kinda shit, as far as first dates go.”
“Oh. Oh, you, uh…” Sunset faltered slightly. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
Aria’s heart chose that moment to inflict sadness upon her with its perverse witchcraft.
“... Y’know, just, like… stay home this weekend, text me an address sometime, I’ll wander over or something, and we can skip this boring awkward talky crap.”
It wasn’t much, but Sunset’s face brightened. “Sounds good! See you… sometime, then?” Sunset had already started walking away, but she kept facing Aria long enough to wave her a goodbye.
“Yeah,” Aria said. “Let’s go with that.” She doubted Sunset heard that, so she set off.
She could give Sunset a chance, right? She’d gone along with the whole Adagio scheme.
Surely she could think of something more fun, right?
Aria stared at the lanky, temptingly-fragile gateway to the stygian hellhole Sunset had dragged her out to: a coffee shop that somehow managed to be obnoxiously inoffensive.
“Seriously?” she said. “This is the best you could come up with?”
Sunset let out a long sigh of relief. “Oh, good, I was worried it was just me. Wasn’t sure what else to suggest, though. Do you wanna go try to find someplace else? There’s plenty of time to—”
“Nah, I walked, like, a mile to get here, and I’m never getting that time back.” Aria looked to Sunset and leered. “And I’m not gonna pass up something to give you shit about later.”
She didn’t see Sunset’s playful indignance, as she’d already started in, but she heard it taking form in a voice: “Oh, that is dirty.”
“Yeah it is.”
For the next few minutes, Aria put her Boring People Things filter on and a delightful haze of apathy fell over the world.
When it lifted, she was sitting across a table from Sunset, who was talking. “I did have a few other ideas, actually. But I thought I’d play it safe for now and y’know, save the bank robbery for the second, um… date.”
Clarity and moist, throbbing vigor sprang into Aria’s overcast world. “Okay, I’m gonna need you to stop that train of thought, because either you’re joking and I don’t wanna be disappointed or you’re not and I am so down and we can’t talk about it in public.”
“Let’s… maybe file that one away for when the world-hating and Man-sticking hits ‘blaze of glory’ territory.” That was such a Sunset thing to say.
Aria nodded. “That sounds cool.”
Sunset nodded. “Right.”
A moment or two passed. Aria’s BPT filter started to make a comeback, which… left her oblivious to almost everyone, instead of everyone like usual.
“So, um.” Sunset dithered. “I haven’t been on a date in… a long time.”
Aria shrugged. “Eh. Same as what we were doing before, basically, right? Just less of the pissing off Adagio and more excluding all the less-hot people.”
Sunset giggled. “I guess so, yeah. So, talking of Adagio…” Pause for dramatic effect and cheeky grin “…she’d probably flip out if we broke the news to her, right?”
A moment to reflect, and then Aria matched the grin with her own. “Fuck yeah, she would.”
“You wanna do that soon?”
“We have to now, right?” Aria let out a ghoulish cackle, then pursed her lips. “I hate to say this, but I’m thinking we cut her some slack afterwards, though. She was annoyed enough the other day that I was worried she was gonna get the guillotine out.”
“... You have a—”
“Sonata thought it’d be good for cutting pineapple.”
And then there was silence.
Silence and coffee.
Sunset eventually looked around. “This is really boring.”
“I know a place that does an open mic thing. Wanna do that tonight instead?”
Aria rolled her eyes. “It’s probably run by those jackasses who freak out whenever you start singing about how the world’s gonna end so there’s no reason not to arson. How’re we supposed to have fun when there’s someone like that involved?”
Aria paused just long enough to straighten her sexy leather jacket and brush some of the fresh coat of dust off before turning, flipping off the bouncer who’d just punted her out the door, then jamming her hands into her pockets and trudging off down the sidewalk. Sunset followed along beside her, casting a withering glare over her shoulder periodically.
They walked a little ways in dead, furious silence, then turned a corner that took them out of sight of the bar.
And then, the sound of merry giggles burst out of hiding to keep the exhilarated tapdancing of Aria’s pulse company.
“That was amazing!” Sunset sang, gleefully grinning as she raised her palm for Aria to smack it. “I thought for sure we were gonna be disappointed when you hit that bit about the babies and the dismembering tree, but somehow you kept it going!”
Aria snickered through teeth clenched into a leering grin. “Well, y’know. When it’s only the bleakest of nihilism that gets you out of bed in the morning, this kinda thing comes pretty naturally.”
“No idea how that works, but I love it!” Sunset practically dove forwards, hurling her arms around Aria’s neck and diversifying the practices of her tongue.
Which Aria was pretty cool with. No startled squeak—who’d be that lame?—and certainly no breathy murmur of a sigh; who had time for that sappy shi—fuck it she wasn’t gonna lie about enjoying the perks of a hot, um… friend-with-bene—nope, too long, fuck it, girlfriend it was.
They stopped when a jackass pedestrian started staring, flipped him off in unison, and then started the walk home pressed to each other’s side.
“I could get used to this,” Aria said.
“I’m kinda liking it so far too,” Sunset replied. “Wanna knock on Adagio’s door and tell her it’s official?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
“Hey, Adagio, I’m—”
A long, deep moan punctuated by wet smacks and the rustling of fabric being shed beat Aria’s sentence over the head with a brick, made it go down like a limp sack of potatoes, and chucked it out the window.
Sunset and Aria stared for a moment.
“So,” Sunset said at last. “Um.”
“Oh, Sonata…” Adagio’s husky, sensual voice, which grated on Aria’s ears with all the grace of the world’s angriest curbstomp, suffused the air with indefatigable awkwardness.
Something flew through the air and landed on her face.
“Huh. So that’s what that feels like,” she said as she tugged Adagio’s freshly—and very enthusiastically—removed bra from her head and flung it aside.
“We could come back later,” Sunset suggested. “Make the announcement another day?”
“Eh.” Aria shrugged. “Formalities are bullshit anyway. Wanna head back to your place and skip to the consummating part?”
Sunset quirked her lips, then nodded. “That sounds pretty good.”