Sucker for a Cute Face

by Eyeswirl the Weirded

Chapter 28: Chapter 28: Focus-Destroying Smorgasbord Shell

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"Neat ribbon, Adagio."

That was all it took for her entire first-period class to stop what they were doing and turn their heads, even if most immediately turned away again. Once more, Adagio distantly sympathized with Fluttershy, but kept any reaction from her face as she replied. "Thank you, Flash."

The instructor started things up a minute later, but there was no doubt that the bow had been thoroughly noticed now. She got more than a few stray glances through the rest of class, but pretended not to notice. Walking down the hall yielded similar results to the day Fluttershy's sketch went up; some students would turn, look at her with a collective blend of disbelief, confusion, and those little smiles before turning to get the attention of nearby friends and whisper their immediate thoughts. The ones Adagio made out were mostly somewhere on the spectrum of "Oh, man, she's up to something!" and "Omigosh, she looks like a doll!"

Adagio surprised herself in finding that she hoped they meant the soft, non-threatening kind, as opposed to the ones whose eyes were rumored to follow people around the room. Her dark eyeliner probably wasn't doing her a lot of favors in that department.


A little later, Adagio again paced the halls while reflecting on the looks she'd been getting. It might have made her a little self-conscious, but the overall response so far seemed to be positive, though the face Trixie made had suggested utter bewilderment. Still, people were smiling at her a little more, and she didn't quite get the impression that all of them were giggling behind their hands at her. A few, she was sure, but not all. It was a little embarrassing, but she found herself not hating this kind of attention.

Huh. Does this make me an exhibitionist too...?

Speaking of which, she approached the gym doors. Peeking through the little door-window, she saw exactly what she'd hoped to; her Sweetie strutting her stuff, her back to the door Adagio stood behind. She was apparently doing a return trip at the moment, leaving several seconds in which to enjoy the show. Grinning deviously, Adagio glanced around to confirm that the hallway was otherwise empty, flattened up against the wall when Fluttershy turned around again, and waited until she stepped out, looking quite pleased with herself.

Adagio called out to her. "Excellent form today!" To her immediate delight, Fluttershy froze where she stood and slooowly turned her head to reveal that precious little face, flushed crimson as it formed a guilty little smile.

"Uhm... t-thank you, I-"

"Although," she said with a coy grin, "I don't think I've ever seen you do it in heels, which-" she took a few steps to the side, facing away from Fluttershy and lightly brushing her hair aside to demonstrate, "-add a little more sway to your swing, if you see what I mean."

By the look on her face, eyes downward, Fluttershy very much saw what she meant, leaving Adagio to appreciate her admiring expression for a few seconds. However, as she knew the spell wouldn't last long, she opted to bring it to an end herself, primarily by bringing a hand to her own end with a sharp, percussive smack. Fluttershy shuddered as though she'd been the one slapped.

Grinning with impish glee, Adagio chuckled. "Just a bit of advice. Don't hurt yourself, Sweetie!"

More and more, she wished she could see things directly behind her somehow as she walked away, continuing to demonstrate the effect high heels had on leg and hip movement and leaving Fluttershy to continue in her studies.


After nearly a full period spent with her face buried in her textbook, Fluttershy's heart began to beat normally again. She was thankful for this, because there wasn't much to hide behind at lunch. Adagio's demonstration had been... educational, but more prominent in her thoughts were the whispers she'd been hearing from other kids about the ribbon tied in her hair. "Gossip Queen" Rarity in particular had a lot to say about it.

"-offsets the light theme of spikes she had going with her boots, belt, and the other hairband, but definitely her color!"

Fluttershy was quietly proud to have chosen well.

Chuckling, Applejack shook her head. "This is gonna sound a mite strange, but she reminds me a little'a Applebloom this way."

Pinkie beamed. "Ooh, does that make the other two Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo?"

Rainbow snorted. "I can picture it; they'd be all-" She, Applejack, and even Rarity performed the revised shout (though not actually shouting) in unison. "'DAZZLING FRIENDSHIP-FINDERS, YAAAAY!!'"

The whole table giggled, and Sunset in particular was all smiles. "I saw it myself third period, it's not a bad look for her! Makes me wish I'd actually gone and changed my look, who knew a bow could make such a difference?"

"I knew," said Rarity with a meaningful bat of her eyelashes, "and it's still not to late for you, Darling. Stop by my workshop later today?"

Smiling somewhat hesitantly, Sunset nodded. "Uh, sure, okay. Just, nothing frilly, please."

Rarity scoffed good-naturedly. "Spoilsport."

There were more giggles, but Rainbow was the first to stop laughing. "Really though, is anyone else just a teeny bit worried about Queen Fluffylicious? She's been acting a little weirder every week lately."

Sunset frowned. "Oh, come on, who around here doesn't act weird now and then?"

"I mean like, weird even for one of those three, y'know? Scary-weird."

Applejack visibly chewed her thoughts. "Ah don' wanna go startin' nothin, but Ah reckon she's got a point. They're all actin' fine now, sure, but weren't that their whole song an' dance before? False sense'a security an' all that?"

"Huh," Pinkie thought aloud, "ya think they're doing the didn't-know-that-you-fell, oh-woah-oh thing with cute hair-wear instead of butt-shaking?"

Skeptical, Rarity crossed her arms. "You don't think Adagio might just be trying a new look?"

Rainbow shrugged. "I'm just trying to play it safe here, 'cuz no matter how I look at it, we got lucky last time. If they've got something else up their sleeve, who's to say we don't get Vinyl or somebody to help us out again?"

Frowning, Rarity nodded. "I suppose that's true..."

Scratching her head, Rainbow looked down at the table. "I mean, I really don't wanna go burning bridges or anything, but we know those three can be dangerous when they put their minds to it." Looking up again, she turned her head. "What do you think, Fluttershy?"

The table was silent as the group collectively took in her sad, almost pained expression. "Has anyone gotten hurt?" she asked quietly, "have they really been bothering anyone?"

"Not yet," answered Applejack, "but-"

"But what? 'But we should watch them like a hawk until something happens? Make them feel guilty even when they've been on their best behavior?' No one should be treated that way." Fluttershy wasn't sure if it was the statement or that she had interrupted someone that stunned the others, but she calmly kept going. "I won't say you should never be careful, and I haven't forgotten what they were like before, but if we never let go of what they used to be, how can they hope to?"

There was a short silence.

Sunset frowned too. "She's right. I mean, you guys gave me a chance when nobody else would, why are the sirens any different?"

Rainbow answered with a perfectly straight face, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "They never even said they were sorry."

For a moment the table was silent. Sunset glanced over her shoulder at the Dazzlings before looking back at her friends, raising a hand to her throat, and whispering. "You probably wouldn't either, y'know?"

By the way their eyes widened, the others very much understood, Rainbow in particular wincing. "Ooh, dang, yea... forgot about that." She glanced over at the Dazzlings' tuneless table. "No way to fix that, I guess?"

Fluttershy paid close attention to Sunset's answer.

"Twilight's been pretty busy with other stuff, but when I asked, she said even she has no idea how to bring back their voices without also bringing back their magic." And nothing more needed to be said.

Rainbow shook her head. "Oh, well." She managed to crack a little smile. "Maybe I'm just weirded out by her of all people wearing a pretty little bow in her hair. Reminds me of one of those creepy dolls in that one cabinet at Applejack's place."

The farmer scowled. "They're heirlooms."

Pinkie giggled. "Creepy heirlooms!"

Raising her nose in mock indignance, Applejack hmphed. (Rarity squee'd a little) "That's how ya know they're authentic."

The tension broken, the table giggled once more, Fluttershy glancing over at the Dazzlings table. What she saw made her jaw drop.


Adagio, well across the room, but still quite visible, was eating a taco. It was Taco Tuesday. The manner in which she was eating it, however, was what drew attention from more than just Fluttershy. She slowly, tenderly licked the edges of the shell to savor the flavor, delicately nibbled and gnawed pieces off, and gently pulled them in with her tongue before going in for more.

At last, she understood Sonata's fascination! Or so she'd thought, because looking up at her companions, she found Sonata blushing brighter than Fluttershy usually did and Aria looking at her wide-eyed.

"Uh... D-Dagi? What are you doing?"

She gave them a completely natural smile. "Just thought I'd try savoring it." Following a moment's silence and two bewildered stares, she shrugged. "No good? Very well." She then tore into the taco with reckless abandon, crunching and shredding it to pieces in her teeth. Doing so helped hide a wicked grin as she glanced at the Rainbooms' table to see five of them standing up and gathering around a fainted Fluttershy.

Not sure how to interrupt the freaky feeding frenzy, Aria looked at Sonata, whose nose had started bleeding while she stared at their shameless leader. "Nata? You okay there?"

Sonata wore a happy, dazed expression that could only be called 'love-struck schoolgirl' as she dumbly nodded. "Okay."

"No, no, I'm asking if you're-"


Aria said nothing.




Aria returned her blank stare to Adagio, who was tasting her yellow fingertips after having finished her war crimes on that taco.

Adagio looked back at the two of them, her expression cheerfully innocent. "Something wrong?"

Sonata finally snapped out of her stupor, blinking rapidly. "Eh, huh, wha? What year is it?"

Glancing back and forth at the two of them, Aria facepalmed. "You guys are so embarrassing."

Chuckling as she saw Fluttershy being carried off the nurses' office out of the corner of her eye, Adagio gestured to the bow on her head. "On that note, what do you think?"

Aria tilted her head a little. "A... bow? Is that what people have been yakkin' about all day?"

Sonata beamed. "It's shiny!"

"You would notice that, Nata."

"Bite me, Ria."

Giggling at antics that once only served to aggravate her, Adagio took a moment to appreciate just how much she'd come to enjoy her companions' occasional banter. When she was done, they were smiling at her too.

"So," Aria guessed, "this is that plan you were talking about? Play up the 'cutesy' thing for all it's worth?"

She nodded. "Something like that, but within certain constraints. For one, I maintain that putting on an act won't do us any favors in the long run, but an accessory or two won't hurt anything."

Aria disagreed. "Other than our dignity?"

"Not as much as you'd think, and it's a worthy sacrifice, I assure you." She grinned cheekily. "In fact, you might pull it off even better than I do. You've already got that hairstyle, that little vest, not to mention that pouty widdle face you make~!"

Tinting red, Aria crossed her arms and grit her teeth, grumbling in her usual, pouty-faced fashion.

Sonata, ever the team-player, beamed. "Agitated growling, not bad either!"

Aria turned away. "You both suck!"

Despite her blush as the others giggled at her expense, Aria felt a little lucky, a tiny smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. She knew how most of the school reacted to her 'grumpiness,' but the way Sonata and Adagio could see a little more than that always meant something to her.

...I'm not wearing any damn ribbons, though!

Author's Notes:

I know Rainbow gets cast as The Jerkface entirely too often, but I know that's only because she fits the role so well, at least more-so than any of the others. Even if Sunset's reformation had been slower and let her stay kind of a snarky jerk, I don't think I could have had her objecting here anyway, given the context. That said, I hope she didn't come off as a bitch here so much as exercising healthy caution.

Speaking of healthy caution, there are times I earnestly wonder if I'm stretching the 'Teen' tag a little too far...

Would have liked that little sentiment with Aria to be a little less ham-handed, but flat-out stating it was the best way I could think of to show that she kind of appreciated the 'teasing' she gets from the others without risk of it just being drawn out into something too subtle to not be confusing. Maybe I could have built a whole scene around Aria for that purpose, but that would have been a bit of a long detour for a minor detail.

28 chapters later and I'm still not great with weaving exposition into the narrative all the time.

Next Chapter: Chapter 29: Simple Questions and Tiny Pants Estimated time remaining: 10 Hours, 44 Minutes
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