Taking Another Career Option

by DJLowrider

Chapter 1: Taking Another Career Option

“You really should let me make you something new, darling,” Rarity said insistently. Before her, on a table, lay a somewhat worn and shabby-looking black jacket. “After how much you’ve changed, it only makes sense to freshen up your look. Not to mention that black, while slimming in a good cocktail dress, isn’t going to do you any favors in the halls at school.”

“It’s not that I don’t appreciate the offer, really,” Sunset Shimmer replied, picking her trademark piece of clothing back up. “But this jacket is kind of important to me all the same. I’d rather pay someone to get it repaired and cleaned up, and since I’m light on funds these days it only makes sense for me to get a job of some kind.”

Rarity grasped Sunset by her shoulders, her eyes pleading with her. “But fast food? Really? You’ll end up sullying even more of your wardrobe in the process with all that grease and sweat and who knows what other manner of stains that are just lurking in the shadows of whatever kitchen you’ll be slaving away in!”

“It’s a locally-owned part of a nationwide chain,” Sunset told her plainly. “It’s not some roadside truck stop diner or anything like that. They do have sanitation standards, y’know. Plus uniforms, so it’s not like I’d be getting any of my own clothes messed up.”

Rarity heaved a sigh and let go of Sunset. “Well you can’t say I haven’t properly warned you. At least tell me which one you’ve picked to work at so I can tell the girls. We’ll certainly want to come visit, though knowing Applejack and Rainbow Dash they’ll also offer their patronage as well. So help me those two will eat practically anything.”

Sunset beamed with pride. She liked the idea of having a job, after all. “Five Alarm Taco. Serving only the finest and hottest tacos around.”

Sunset may have had a lot of pride in her place of employment, but Rarity could not have been any less thrilled. “You do realize that restaurant chain’s acronym is ‘FAT’, right?”

“You just had to go there, didn’t you? Look, this is something I want to do. I know it’s not ideal, but… I still feel like I have a lot to make up for from how I was before, even after everything that happened at the Battle of the Bands a few weeks ago. A little honest work in food service might help my image a bit, plus get me the money I need to get my jacket fixed up. It’s not like I want to make a career out of serving up fast food tacos, I just… I want to feel like I’m actually helping someone have a better day.”

Rarity’s disapproving expression gave way to a friendly smile as she stepped up to Sunset, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I could think of a dozen or more other ways you could accomplish all of that, but those things would just be what I would do. What matters here is what you feel is right, and if this is how you want to handle this then I suppose I don’t have any right to tell you otherwise. At the very least I can appreciate your work ethic, darling. Even if I still think you’re using it at an establishment that doesn’t deserve someone of your quality working for them.”

“As generous with your compliments as always,” Sunset said with a small laugh before hugging her fashionista friend. “Thanks, Rarity. It means a lot to me to have your support.”

“I’m sure the rest of the girls will be happy to see you taking some initiative as well,” Rarity added after the hug. “But just remember if it doesn’t work out, my offer stands. I honestly think a nice white denim jacket with the proper accents would look stunning on you.”

“I’ll keep it in mind,” Sunset replied, laughing a bit again. “As it is, I won’t be the only new employee there. The manager said he just hired another girl the day before as well. We both start tomorrow.”

Rarity arched an eyebrow in curiosity. “Oh? It is anyone we know?”

Sunset shrugged at her as she donned her jacket. “Dunno, he didn’t mention her name. I’ll let you all know when I find out, though. I’m sure whoever it is I’ll be able to work with them just fine.”

Sunset stood wide-eyed and mouth agape as she was introduced to her co-worker at Five Alarm Taco. This was going to be a lot harder than she’d initially thought.

“Sunset Shimmer, meet your fellow new co-worker, Sonata Dusk” said the manager, Salsa Verde. He looked between the two curiously, noting their reactions. “Do, uh, you girls know each other?”

“You could say that…” Sonata said nervously.

“We’ve got a bit of… history,” Sunset added, practically staring through the girl with the blue and indigo-striped high ponytail.

Salsa shrugged and laughed heartily as he turned away from the two and began heading towards the kitchen. “Well nothing sparks camaraderie like hard work. We don’t open for a bit yet, so you two can catch up some while I make sure we’re stocked and ready to serve.”

The two girls watched Salsa head off into the back, only looking at each other again once he was out of earshot.

“What on earth are you doing here?!” they both asked accusingly in unison.

“You first!” Sonata insisted.

“Me?” Sunset replied in a bit of outrage. “I’m not the one who just tried to enslave the entire school just a few weeks ago! You’ve got a lot of nerve showing your face at all right now!”

“Like you never tried to do the same,” Sonata retorted, brushing off Sunset’s recollection of the Battle. “Oh wait, you did! Wait, that was you that did that, right? I keep getting you girls mixed up. Was it you, or the one with the poofy pink hair?”

“No… it was me,” Sunset admitted with a groan and a palm to her forehead.

Sonata peered more closely at Sunset after her admission. “Really? Because I wouldn’t have put it past that pink girl. Lemme tell ya, she gives me the creeps.”

Sunset looked at Sonata in disbelief. “Pinkie Pie.”

Sonata shuddered visibly at the mention of Pinkie’s name. “And with a name like that too? Yeesh.”

“Pinkie Pie creeps you out?” Sunset asked, still not understanding Sonata’s apprehension towards the party girl.

Sonata nodded at her several times. “All that cheeriness? I’ll bet she’s just hiding some nasty dark secret. Maybe in her basement. Or out in a shed somewhere. Or her laundry room. Y’know, change things up a bit from your usual psychopath.”

Sunset couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the notion. “Pinkie Pie is not a psychopath.”

“I’ll bet that’s just what she wants you all to think,” Sonata countered a bit smugly.

Sunset could feel herself losing patience. This was going nowhere fast. “Look, just… listen, I’m not like that anymore! I’ve changed for the better since then!”

“Well, how do you know I’m not trying?” Sonata asked back with a shrug. “I could be, like, trying to be one of the good guys now. Or at least a less bad guy. You never know!”

Sonata’s claim gave Sunset pause for thought. “That… well… is that the case?”

“Um… maybe?” Sonata shrugged along with her response. She reached back and twirled her ponytail a bit, seemingly at a loss. “I dunno.”

“This isn’t a ‘maybe’ kind of question,” Sunset told her, trying to push the issue.

“Geez, I don’t know okay? I just want to make a little money since Adagio and Aria are being all mopey and stuff.”

Sunset peered closer at Sonata, her gaze scrutinizing the girl. “Really?”

Sonata once again nodded at her several times. “Yes, for realsies. Well… that and I really, really love tacos.”

Sunset found herself with a quandary. On the one hand, she couldn’t help but be suspicious that Sonata might be up to something else here. On the other, Sonata and the other sirens no longer had their magic so just what would they be up to anyway? The fact that Sonata also mentioned Adagio and Aria being depressed certainly sounded genuine, but then again it could all be a ruse.

“So…?” Sonata asked after several moments of silence between the two of them.

“So… what?” Sunset asked in response.

Sonata rolled her own eyes now. “Ugh, I told you why I’m here. It’s your turn now, dur!”

“Oh. Um… same reason, basically,” Sunset replied. “Just trying to make a few bucks.”

“Oh, is that so?” Sonata asked, looking at Sunset slyly. “Well, you do realize what this means, right?”

Sunset suddenly found herself feeling rather uneasy as Sonata took a few steps towards her. Was she planning on making this a competition of some kind again? Maybe try to get her fired so she’d be the only employee? Her questions were answered as Sonata quickly stepped next to her, put an arm around her shoulders and gestured dramatically towards the ceiling.

“That makes us Buck Buddies!” Sonata pronounced gleefully.

“...Buck Buddies?” Sunset repeated in confusion.

Sonata nodded enthusiastically. “Yup! Just you and me, working away serving up delicious tacos and trying to earn a few bucks. Buck Buddies!”

“Um… can we call it something else?” Sunset asked a bit nervously.

Sonata stepped back a bit, looking at Sunset quizzically. “Why? Doesn’t it just roll off the tongue? Buck Buddies!”

“I just think maybe-” Sunset said, still fairly hesitant about the monicker.

Sonata, however, cut her off before she could voice her opinion on the matter. “Hey, d’you think they’ll let me wear a taco costume to advertise outside sometime?”

Sonata’s starry-eyed expression at the notion elicited a chuckle from Sunset. Maybe this wouldn’t be quite so bad after all.

“Fluttershy, would it kill ya to have a car that’s just a little cooler to use for driving us around town?” Rainbow Dash complained as she sulked in her seat some. The girls were once again in Fluttershy’s several-years-old minivan that she alternately used to either bus them all around or to help her with animal rescues. It was hardly the kind of vehicle in which Dash wanted to be caught riding around town.

“You oughta at least be grateful she’s always so willin’ to drive us all over kingdom come, Dash,” Applejack said, rebuking Dash a bit. “Not to mention the rest of us either don’t own a car yet or if we do it won’t seat all of us. Unless y’all wanna ride in the back o’ my pickup.”

“An utterly unacceptable notion,” Rarity added immediately. “It’s not only unsafe, but can you imagine the havoc such a ride would wreak on an outfit? Or what would end up in one’s hair, even?”

“Oh I don’t think it’d be all that bad,” Pinkie noted with a shrug. Rarity immediately reached into Pinkie’s hair, pulling a fortune cookie from it.

“That’s because you already have who-knows-what in your hair anyway, Pinkie,” Rarity reminded her. “And… please tell me this isn’t from the restaurant we went to two weeks ago.”

“Um… no?” Pinkie said, sounding entirely uncertain of her answer as she snatched the cookie back from Rarity and placed it back into her mass of hair.

“I’m sorry about my van, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy finally said, only speaking when the road was clear enough for her to respond. She did pride herself on being a good driver, and while she wanted to talk with her friends she also didn’t want to get too distracted from the road.. “The critters don’t seem to mind it, though, and I do drive them around far more often than you girls.”

“At least consider a cool paint job for this thing,” Dash suggested, continuing to try and not be seen by passersby. “Like a wizard fighting a dragon or something.”

“Another utterly unacceptable notion,” Rarity said, sounding somewhat horrified. “There is nothing more gaudy on the road than seeing a car or vehicle with some ridiculous fantasy scene scrawled all over it. Or worse, flames.”

“I don’t know about doing anything to the outside of the van, but on the inside I do have this cute bobblehead at least,” Fluttershy said, tapping the head of the little smiling bunny figure that was affixed to her dashboard. She giggled a bit as she watched it bounce out of the corner of her eye while driving.

“Don’t let Dash’s whinin’ get to you, Fluttershy,” Applejack told her. “It’s your van and you don’t gotta do anythin’ to it you don’t wanna. We all appreciate you doin’ the drivin’, right gals?”

A general consensus of agreement came from the others, including Dash who added her approval a bit begrudgingly. Pinkie, then, pressed her face against the window as she looked ahead along the road.

“So Sunset’s been working here for about a week, Rarity?” Pinkie asked as she tried to keep an eye out for Five Alarm Taco.

“Yes, I believe she started a week ago today in fact,” Rarity replied. “I had hoped to get us all together to see her at work sooner, but school schedules are nothing if not difficult to work around.”

“I hope she’s having fun with it,” Fluttershy noted as she rounded a corner carefully. “Has she said much about her job?”

“To be honest, I actually haven’t seen her much to talk to recently after school,” Rarity admitted with a sigh. “The only thing I do know is she said there was another girl who was also starting at the same time as her. She didn’t know who it was, but I can only surmise things are going well if she hasn’t come to any of us about it.”

“We’ll find out soon, ‘cause there she is!” Pinkie said excitedly, pressing her finger to the window along with her face as she pointed. Sure enough, there was Sunset standing outside the restaurant with an arrow sign trying to direct passersby to stop in to eat. Fluttershy honked the horn of her van a couple of times quickly as she pulled into the parking lot and the girls all waved to Sunset as they passed her by. Moments later, the five girls met Sunset as she headed back towards the restaurant with her sign.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you guys today,” Sunset said as she set aside her sign to hug them each in turn. “You didn’t just come here to see me, did you?”

‘Of course not, we’re hungry after all,” Dash said, earning her an elbow in the arm from Applejack. “Ow! What? I’m just being honest.”

“I reckon what Dash meant to say was we coulda gone anywhere for lunch, but it was only right we come here so we could also see how the job was treatin’ ya, Sunset,” Applejack said on Dash’s behalf.

“Oh yeah, what she said,” Dash added nodding. “So can we all go inside so I can order now? I spent my morning practicing for a track meet, and my stomach’s gonna implode if I don’t get some lunch soon!”

“Sure, I needed to come in anyway for a break,” Sunset said with a chuckle.

“Darling, I have to say this uniform does nothing for you,” Rarity said as they entered. “Red and green shirt with black pants? It’s just a mess of solid colors.”

“She could double as a traffic light,” Pinkie noted. “But then you’d have to be standing out in the street to direct traffic and that’s no bueno.”

“I’m not exactly worried about dressing to impress when I’m on the job, Rarity,” Sunset reminded her. “Besides, they’re the same colors as the restaurant so it only makes sense.”

“Yet another reason I still say this place doesn’t deserve you,” Rarity commented.

“You must be enjoying it if you’re still at it after a week, though,” Fluttershy noted.

“It certainly keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure,” Sunset said. “But we all work as a team here so everything can get done.”

“Speaking of team, Rarity said someone else was startin’ with ya,” Applejack said as they got in line to order. “She around today?”

“Well… um…” Sunset said, her voice full of hesitation. Unfortunately, she had no time to try and explain things further as the co-worker in question took to the register.

“Welcome to Five Alarm Taco!” Sonata pronounced with a smile. “May I take your-”

Silence hung in the air for several tense moments as the five girls and Sonata all stared at each other.

You?!” the five girls said in unison.

Please don’t rainbow me again!” Sonata pleaded, quickly putting her arms up to defend herself.

“Guys, it’s okay,” Sunset said, stepping between Sonata and her friends. “She’s totally harmless.”

“That’s sure not how I remember things from the last time we saw her,” Dash said, her eyes staring daggers at Sonata.

“Dash, please,” Sunset said, stepping closer to the rainbow-haired athlete. “Sonata’s been working here with me for the past week and it’s been fine.”

“You sure she hasn’t done any weird singing magic or anything on you?” Pinkie asked, leaning in close to look in Sunset’s ear as if it was a way of determining such a thing.

“Pinkie, we destroyed their necklaces, remember?” Sunset told Pinkie, pushing the pink-haired girl back just a bit.

“Something wrong out here, girls?” Salsa Verde asked as he joined Sonata at the cash register.

“No, Mr. Verde,” Sunset said quickly. “Just my friends showed up to visit me at work is all. And they came to have lunch too.”

“Ah, well then you should take some time to be with them,” Salsa replied with a smile. “Sunset, you go clock out so you can sit with your friends. I’ll take over the register. Sonata, why don’t you take the sign back out front and see if you can drum up some more business for us?”

“Uh, sure…” Sonata said, heading outside while keeping an eye on the girls to make sure none of them made any sudden moves towards her.

“I’ll go clock out,” Sunset told the girls once Sonata was outside. “You girls go ahead and order and I’ll meet you at your table here in a minute.”

Heading back to the employee area of the restaurant, Sunset could only dread the conversation that was undoubtedly forthcoming. She just hoped she could run damage control well enough to prevent any kind of scene that might get either her or Sonata fired. Or worse, both of them.

“I just wanted to assess the situation on my own was all,” Sunset said to the girls as they ate their lunch. “I was as surprised as any of you when I came in for my first day and she showed up. But I quickly realized two things that led me to want to wait things out. First, and most importantly, the Sirens had their magical stones destroyed by us at the concert. They can’t use their magic anymore. They can’t even sing anymore for that matter. Sonata demonstrated that for me herself. It wasn’t pretty.”

“I suppose that does allay a fair bit of the concern over her being out in the public again,” Rarity noted. “Without their magic, the Dazzlings really are just normal girls like everyone else.”

“Except us, of course,” Dash added proudly with a large grin.

“You ever gonna not brag about that?” Applejack asked Dash, sounding annoyed.

"Hey, we’ve saved the whole school... heck, the whole city for that matter twice now,” Dash replied matter-of-factly. “If anyone around has the right to brag, it’s us. We really are just that awesome.”

While AJ groused some at Dash’s smugness, Fluttershy decided to continue the discussion with Sunset. “So what was the other thing you realized?”

“That of any of the three of them, Sonata’s probably the least likely to try something,” Sunset replied with a shrug. “She’s… well… she’s not a whole lot different from Pinkie.”

Sunset gestured over to Pinkie, who was somewhat furiously attacking her taco salad. She looked up from her eating at the rest of them after a few moments of the girls watching her, bits of taco shell, salsa, and vegetables stuck to her cheeks. “What? Is there something on my face?”

“It’s more a question of what isn’t on your face, darling,” Rarity noted, leaning back a bit from the pink party girl. She offered Pinkie a napkin at arm’s length, which Pinkie accepted and began cleaning her face off before having something outside the window she was seated next to catch her eye.

“What I mean is, there’s a similar kind of innocence to Sonata,” Sunset went on to say. “After hearing her talk about her time with Adagio and Aria while we worked together, it’s clear she was never the one who instigated things in their group. She was really just along for the ride.”

“That still don’t excuse all the things she did ‘round school as part of The Dazzlings,” Applejack quickly added.

“No it doesn’t, I agree there AJ,” Sunset replied. “Furthermore, I’m not sure she thinks what they were doing before was bad. She certainly hasn’t tried to apologize for anything they did yet. At the same time, though, I don’t know that she’s ever been given the chance to have her own opinion on anything. Adagio and Aria basically just bullied her into going along with their plans. Working here, on the other hand, is something she wanted to do herself. No one put her up to it.”

“So you think maybe she could turn things around if given the chance,” Fluttershy deduced from Sunset’s breakdown of things.

“Do you really think someone like her could do it?” Dash asked skeptically.

“Why not? I did,” Sunset replied simply. “I kinda have to believe that anyone is capable of turning their lives around.”

Dash shifted a bit in her seat as Pinkie poked her with a finger on the shoulder. “Yeah, well, don’t expect me to be ready to give the other two a pass so quickly.”

Dash then brushed Pinkie’s hand away as her poking became more insistent. “You were one thing, Sunset, and you’ve proven your awesomeness. Plus you were sorry for what you did. That went a long way towards us trusting you.”

Dash pulled her shoulder away as Pinkie tugged at her shirt sleeve. “If Sonata’s not even apologizing for what she and the Dazzlings did, then I’m not sure we should waste our time and energy trying to turn her around like we-”

With one last tug on her sleeve, Dash finally snapped. She whirled and looked at Pinkie, who was still staring out the window. “For crying out loud, Pinkie, what is it?!”

Pinkie simply put a hand on Dash’s cheek and turned her face to look outside as well. Once she was looking outside, Dash saw exactly what Pinkie was trying to show her and was likewise dumbstruck. The rest of the girls quickly followed suit to see just what was happening.

Sonata was out in front of the restaurant with the sign, but apparently she hadn’t been content with merely standing there and holding it. She was spinning it in her hands, over her head, tossing it into the air and catching it, and all the while dancing to whatever song was in her head. At one point she tossed the sign high into the air and spun herself around, her long ponytail whipping through the air around her. She caught the sign as it came back down, spun it again, and then held it out towards the restaurant again, pointing and nodding her head in time to the beat in her head.

The girls slowly turned to look at each other and then quickly headed outside. Upon seeing the girls running towards her, Sonata held the sign up in front of herself in an attempt to use it as a shield of some kind.

“Sonata, where’d you learn to do that?” Sunset asked, keeping herself in front of the pack of girls once they arrived.

Sonata cowered behind the sign, bracing herself for whatever blast of magic might come from the six friends. “I just, y’know, got bored just standing out here so I started fooling around with the sign. I’ll stop! Just please don’t rainbow me!”

“Are you kidding?!” Dash said, stepping up past Sunset. “That was awesome!

“...Huh?” Sonata replied in blinking disbelief.

“It was like you were doing martial arts or something with the sign!” Dash said, making a few moves of her own in the opposite direction of Sonata.

“I thought it looked more like she was dancing, myself,” Fluttershy added, her own admiration for Sonata’s sign spinning evident.

“I just thought it looked incredibly fun!” Pinkie also added, bouncing up close to Sonata. “Can you teach me how to do it?”

Sonata grimaced and leaned back from Pinkie some at the invasion of her personal space. Sunset sighed and took hold of Pinkie by the shoulders, pulling her back some to give Sonata some relief.

“What we’re trying to say is we all found it to be a most impressive display,” Rarity said, trying to inject some calm into the situation. “Certainly nothing to be ashamed of.”

“So… you’re not gonna rainbow me?” Sonata asked, still sounding wary.

“No, Sonata, we’re not going to ‘rainbow’ you,” Sunset assured her. “But if you could do this kind of thing all along, why didn’t you?”

“I’ve always been the one at the end of the pecking order,” Sonata replied, finally lowering the sign. “Adagio’s always been the brains and the boss, and Aria’s always shooting my ideas down. I guess I just kinda figured what I thought didn’t matter at all. I couldn’t go against both of them, either. Two against one… not good odds.”

“But what about now?” Sunset asked, trying to press the issue. “You don’t have the necklaces anymore, so none of you have magic available. You’re just ordinary girls like everyone else.”

Sunset then quickly looked at Dash, who was starting to open her mouth. “Like everyone else. Right, Dash?”

“Yeah, yeah…” Dash said with a roll of her eyes.

“My point is, you don’t have to let them control you anymore, Sonata,” Sunset said, turning her attention back to her ponytailed co-worker. “And you sure don’t owe them anything either.”

“They’re still all I’ve got, though,” Sonata said, getting back to Sunset’s question. “I can’t just, like, leave them. I mean, I’m not all that smart and I don’t know how to do much. Besides make tacos and messing around with a sign, that is. Not that either of those things is much good.”

“I reckon you oughta check the parkin’ lot, sugarcube,” Applejack said, pointing a thumb towards it. “I think your little stunt got a bit more attention than just us.”

Sure enough, cars had been flooding into the parking lot of Five Alarm Taco even after Sonata had abruptly ended her sign spinning. A few of them slowed down to look over towards Sonata on their way in, hoping to see more of her moves.

“All these people stopped by… because of me?” Sonata asked, again in blinking disbelief.

“I think maybe you should pick up where you left off,” Sunset suggested as she started trying to usher her friends back into the restaurant. “You wouldn’t want to keep your fans waiting, right?”

“Are… are you sure?” Sonata asked again.

“Absolutely,” Sunset replied with a smile.

“For realsies?” Sonata asked further, apparently needing even more approval.

Sunset giggled a bit and nodded at her. “Yes, Sonata, for realsies.”

Sonata, suddenly starry-eyed and giddy, threw herself back into her sign spinning routine much to the delight of the customers who had just arrived as well as passersby on the road.

“Do you think this is for real, Sunset?” Rarity asked as they headed back inside.

“I can only hope it is,” Sunset replied as she held the door for her friends. “Even if it isn’t, I feel obligated to at least give her a chance. You girls did the same for me, after all.”

“What about the other two?” Applejack asked, stopping at the door to pose the question before heading in. “I can’t shake the feelin’ that they ain’t gonna be anywhere near as willin’ to move on as Sonata seems to be.”

“I don’t know, AJ,” Sunset said with a sigh. “But we’ll cross that bridge when we reach it. I just hope when we do reach it, Sonata’s brave enough to be willing to cross it with us.”

After setting her sign by the door, Sonata sat down in a booth seat in the restaurant to catch her breath. Sunset was behind the counter, starting to work on closing things down for the day. Salsa Verde had been so pleased by the extra business her sign spinning had attracted for them earlier that week that he’d made it part of her duties to spend at least an hour doing it anytime she had a shift. Sonata certainly didn’t mind it, nor did she mind the increased pay she was getting as a result, but it was nonetheless exhausting.

“Seems like the sign spinning is really working out for you,” Sunset said as she brought out a tray for Sonata that had a cup of water and a couple of tacos for her. Sonata quickly sat up and began partaking of the food. She hadn’t had dinner yet, after all.

“I kinda wish I had music to go with it,” Sonata said after washing down some food with the water. “It’s not like I can magically conjure up a backbeat or a melody anymore. And I can’t sing to go with it either. Which I gotta say, still really sucks.”

“Yeah, that is one thing Equestria had going for it that this place doesn’t,” Sunset admits, sitting down across from her. “But this place has its charms too, you know.”

“I guess…” Sonata said as she hesitated to eat more. “I used to think this place was terrible. Like, the pits, y’know?”

“I’m familiar with that feeling, yeah,” Sunset admitted.

“But… I dunno, I guess if you let yourself think like that, then that’s all you’re gonna see,” Sonata said, reclining in her seat and rolling her head back to look at the ceiling. “After working here with you, and talking with those other girls - even the pink one - it’s… I dunno. Stuff hasn’t sucked as bad lately. Like I’m starting to think maybe-”

Sonata cut her thoughts short as she heard the restaurant door open, and as soon as she caught sight of who had entered she felt a pit form in her stomach. Adagio and Aria stood glaring at her from the doorway. Sunset quickly got up from her seat and turned to look at the two as well.

“So this is where you’ve been sneaking off to lately,” Adagio said, her eyes narrow as she looked at Sonata.

“A-A-Adagio…” Sonata stammered as she got up from the table. “How did you-”

“They’re talking about you all over town,” Aria told her. “The blue ponytailed girl spinning a sign at the taco shop. It wasn’t hard to figure out. Well, maybe for you it would be.”

“Leave her alone,” Sunset said defensively. “She’s here working because it’s what she wants to do. I’m sure you two aren’t minding the money she’s been making.”

“You…” Adagio said with a voice full of contempt as she turned her attention to Sunset. “You’re the one responsible for our being in the state we are now. Not satisfied with ruining our lives as much as you already have, hm?”

“You brought it on yourselves,” Sunset retorted. “I’m sorry if you’re having a hard time adjusting, but I refuse to apologize for doing what I thought was right in protecting my friends and the town.”

“It must be nice to think you’ve got the high ground,” Aria added snarkily. “You’re not the one who lost everything. And on top of it, now we’re permanently stuck in this miserable hole. It’s just the worst.”

“...No it isn’t,” Sonata said quietly.

“Excuse me?” Aria asked, cocking an eyebrow as she looked back at Sonata.

“I didn’t stutter, Aria,” Sonata said, stepping up next to Sunset. “There’s, like, not-so-sucky things about this place. I get it now, I think.”

“You think?” Adagio repeated with a scoff. “There’s a shocker. I wasn’t aware thoughts ever entered that empty head of yours.”

“Why do you two always have to be like this?” Sonata asked, discarding Adagio’s insult. “I’m a Siren too! At least I was, before… y’know, everything. I guess you two don’t remember, but we used to have fun singing together. Yeah we found out we could get others to do stuff for us with our singing, and that was cool for a while, but we let it mess with us. We became not-fun. Adagio, you got all bossy and stuff, and Aria… you just became a meanie. And then we got sent here and everything sucked. And then we lost at the concert and lost our singing and everything sucked even more. I just… I got tired of it. I’m sick of all the not-fun. I found something fun again! I like doing this stuff!”

“You would,” Aria commented, looking away from her.

“Well I hope you had enough fun,” Adagio said with a snort. “You’re not coming back here again. You’re coming with us.”

“To do what, Adagio?” Sonata asked pointedly. “Sit around somewhere and sulk more about how your plan failed?”

Adagio now scowled at Sonata, but clearly Sonata wasn’t done saying her piece. “Yeah, I went there! We’re in this mess because of you! You never let me or Aria have ideas or try to do stuff. It’s all gotta be you! Well, I’m tired of only doing what you think we should do. I like working here, and I’m not gonna stop. And… well… there’s nothing you can do about it!”

“Oh really?” Adagio said, smiling slyly at her. “And what if your boss found out you were a rather big part of that incident a few weeks back where the entire town was almost enslaved? Think he’d be so willing to let you keep working here if that slipped out?”

“Actually, I would,” Salsa said as he stepped up behind the counter. All those present turned to look at him. “See I’ve got kind of a history myself, miss. I did a lot of things when I was younger that I regret doing now. But I was given a chance to turn things around by the folks who run this chain of restaurants, and here I am today. It might surprise you to know I hire delinquent kids to work for me all the time. I try to give ‘em another chance to turn things around like I did. So as long as she wants to work here, Sonata’s got a job waiting for her.”

Adagio practically snarled as she looked back at Sonata. “So that’s how it’s going to be, then? You’re choosing this over us?”

Adagio then pointed at Sunset. “You’re choosing her over us, even?”

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Sunset said a bit pleadingly. “We could all figure something out together.”

“I’m not in the habit of forgiving those who ruin my life,” Adagio shot back at Sunset. She looked back at Sonata, then, sneering once again. “Well? What’s it going to be?”

Sonata looked quickly between the two groups over and over again as she struggled to make up her mind. Adagio and Aria had been with her longer than anyone, and seeing them both so upset with her made her quiver inside. She took one last look at Sunset, who was trying to smile reassuringly at her, and it reminded her of everything that had happened at the restaurant since she’d started: The fun of learning how to make the tacos she liked so much, as well as other foods, the stories she and Sunset had shared with one another about their previous lives in Equestria, and especially her sign spinning routines that had been bringing in even more customers. It made her feel good again. It made her smile. It was fun. When she realized all of that, only one choice made any sense for her to make.

“Like I said, Adagio,” Sonata finally said timidly. “I’m tired of all the not-fun. I don’t wanna have to choose, but if you’re gonna make me… then I’m staying. And you really can’t make me quit. We don’t have magic anymore, after all.”

Sunset braced herself as Adagio growled her disapproval with Sonata’s decision. She held her ground as the curly-haired girl glared daggers at her, then whirled on a heel and stormed out of the restaurant with her mass of curly hair swaying as she did. Aria followed suit, stopping at the door to also shoot one more dirty look back at Sonata.

“You really are the worst, you know?” Aria told her, again snarkily.

“Not anymore I’m not,” Sonata replied, standing her ground despite feeling somewhat weak in her knees. Aria snorted derisively and continued off after Adagio, leaving Sonata quivering in place where she stood.

“You gonna be okay?” Sunset asked, putting a hand on Sonata’s shoulder.

“Okay?” Sonata repeated quietly. She then suddenly smiled a rather large smile. “I feel great! Oh geez, I’ve wanted to tell them off for, like, ever! Holy cheez whiz that felt so good!”

“I’m glad you’re staying with us, Sonata,” Salsa told her with a chuckle. “And not just for all the business you’ve been bringing in lately. Now, you finish your food and then we’ll close things down for the night. Oh, and Sunset, I’ll bring you some food as well here. Gotta keep my two star employees well fed, after all.”

“Thanks, Mr. Verde,” both girls said in unison.

“I’m sorry Adagio and Aria weren’t willing to come around,” Sunset said to Sonata as they sat back down. “Do you think maybe they ever will?”

“Anything’s possible, I guess,” Sonata said with a shrug. “I mean, I did, right? And you did too, right?”

“That is true,” Sunset said, chuckling a bit as Sonata came to the same conclusion she herself had. “So does this mean you’re one of the good guys now?”

“I dunno,” Sonata said with a mouthful of taco. She swallowed before continuing. “Can I be one?”

“I don’t see why not,” Sunset told her.

“For realsies?” Sonata asked, again apparently needing further approval.

Sunset laughed a bit harder and nodded at her. “Yes, Sonata, for realsies.”

The following weekend, Sunset and the girls were part of a small crowd that had gathered in the parking lot of Five Alarm Taco. They were all there to watch Sonata put on another sign spinning routine. This time, however, there was something extra to it. Sunset had talked to Vinyl Scratch some and, after having her and Sonata meet, Vinyl had agreed to provide some background music for Sonata’s routine.

Sonata took her spot in front of Vinyl’s car, which had been shifted to its “mobile concert” mode and looked a little nervously at the crowd. As soon as she spotted Sunset, though, she smiled and gave her a “thumbs up”, which Sunset returned in kind. Sonata then turned and nodded to Vinyl, who proceeded to lay down the music and beats for her routine. Maybe this wasn’t as lavish or privileged a life as she might have had, but it was fun. It wasn’t being mean. And she was still getting the cheers from the crowd that she loved to hear. For Sonata, that was more than enough to go on.

As Sonata’s routine went on with everyone enjoying it and cheering her on, Sunset stepped back a bit from the crowd to pull the book she used to communicate with Twilight out of her backpack along with a pen. She opened the book to a fresh page and set to writing while nodding her head to the music.

Dear Princess Twilight,

We’re all still missing you, and are hoping you can come visit sometime soon. We’ve added a new friend to the group that I think you’ll be surprised to see when you do. I was certainly surprised at how things turned out myself recently. But I’ve come to realize just how powerful a force friendship can be. It can utterly transform someone if you’re willing to give them a chance, even if they’re someone who’s wronged you in the past. Of course, not everyone comes around so quickly or easily, and there are some who’ll even reject friendship when it’s offered. But that’s no reason to close your heart to others. New friends can be found in places you never thought you might find one. All you have to do is be willing to give things a chance.

Your friend,

Sunset Shimmer

Author's Notes:

Bonus points to anyone who sees what I did with this story's title, heh.

So yeah, I loved Rainbow Rocks. And I've been wanting to write an Equestria Girls story for some time now. This one just came to me not long after I saw the movie in the theater with my family, and I just had to run with it. If this gets some interest in it, I might convert it to a short series and see if I can tackle Aria and Adagio as well, but for now I'm very happy with how this turned out just as a one-shot. As always, I hope you enjoyed this story as well as my others.

Also, again, a big thank you to jankrys00 for the use of her art for this story's cover art. Her style is just so sharp and adorable, I love it. She also runs the Ask Sonata Dusk and Friends Tumblr. Go check her stuff out.

Until next time, friends, I hope you all shine like rainbows.

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