"H-hello? Anypony home?"
"Come on in, I'm down the hall. Sorry 'bout the house being a bit cold, blame Doltstrike Flounderfire, door remover extraordinaire."
Chora stepped through the ruined doorway and followed Basstrot's voice. She jumped when she saw what was left of his 'early warning system' from earlier that day. He was currently balanced on top of it, doing his best to dismantle the ensemble without falling and getting crushed by a hundredweight of speaker cones and subwoofers.
"Are you okay up there?"
"Me? Pff, I'm f-fine," he called back shakily as he slipped, again.
"Oh goodness, hang on," Chora said as she gently flapped her way up to him. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not really, only I know how all these cables conne- Hayseed!" The cone he was standing on buckled and half of the whole assemblage cascaded to the ground. He grabbed Chora's leg as he fell, and being unprepared she was dragged down into the carnage.
"What was that?" Bolt appeared from the street outside just in time to witness the last few boom boxes crash to the floor. A total of eight white legs could be seen sticking out of the mess, flopping around madly like long grass in a gale. With a sigh, Bolt magically lifted some equipment out of the way to reveal Chora lying on top of Bass. Now free, she hurriedly scrabbled to roll off the pile of ruined apparatus and put some distance between herself and Bass.
"H-hi Bolt," she stammered, blushing furiously.
"Oi, a little help?" Bass was still mildly pinned under some wreckage. Instead of lifting it off him, Bolt slid away the material that was under him. Bass duly dropped on his head. "Son of a tail-scraping crib-biting flaky-hoofed baggy-eyed thunder flank!"
"You're welcome. I knew this contraption was dangerous."
"Wait, guys, please don't fight," Chora said as loudly as she could, given she was still unfathomably flustered at having been pinned on top of Basstrot. "That's how… everything started, remember?"
Now on his hooves, Bass eyed Bolt from across the room.
"Fine. Truce, but I swear if you damage any more of my possessions, house fittings included, you are losing that horn."
"Come near my horn and you're losing the rest of your ears."
"Fine!" they chorused.
"I must have fallen into madness; I think I just heard Basstrot and Boltstrike agreeing on something." Everypony turned to see the newcomer.
"Saving Guard?" called Bolt.
"… Close enough," said Grace as she entered the room. "I take it nopony found Wonderwhy then?" Silence. "Great. Let us hope Valorous and Brightsky had more luck." She cast a wary, weary eye over the remainder of Basstrot's 'early warning system' which looked set to collapse fully. "Do I want to know what… this, is?" Suddenly the whole shebang gave up the fight against gravity and spilled earthward in all directions. Grace's horn exploded in violet light as she magically caught the debris leading the charge. Her reflex to halt the front of the avalanche saved her and everypony else, but it meant that smaller items which had been on top of the pile were free to bounce off the suspended equipment, enthusiastically smashing some windows and the few photos Bass had on display. Even a small table was upended, spraying papers high in the air.
"Um... Basstrot, I didn't-"
"I don't even care anymore. Seriously. You know what, let's do this at Bolt's."
"Don't I get a say in that?"
"Chora, yerself an' me were in your house before and nothing happened. It's only my place that seems to be cursed. Let's go now before anything else happens." Bolt grumbled but agreed, and he led the way out the back door, across the garden he shared with Basstrot and through his own home's rear entrance.
Everypony sat in awkward silence, until Bass noticed Bolt's mane and tail.
"Dude… what have you done with your hair? Oh wait, lemme guess, you did it so Stuttershy wouldn't run a mile at the sight of you."
"You only know that because Fluttershy can't stand the sight of you. And no, she didn't have any eggs. Apparently her chickens all got scared by something that stole their eggs not long ago and haven't laid any since."
Bass maintained his poker face.
"So… what do we do now?" Chora piped up next to him.
"Well," Grace said slowly, "we can either wait until Valorous comes back with Brightsky, with or without Wonderwhy in tow… or we can all go out searching ourselves again." She looked out a window. "It's dark, I don't imagine he's too comfortable wherever he is." She heard Chora mumble indistinctly. "Come again? Did you say something?" Another incoherent muttering. Basstrot turned to face Chora.
"You alright there?" She looked back at him. She managed to draw strength from his concerned eyes and nodded with a small smile. Reverting to type, Bass said, "Right, out with it then, what's up?" Chora's face fell at the death of her friend's fleeting tenderness; nevertheless she steeled herself to address the room properly.
"I said I… I wish I could have done something. For Wonderwhy. To make him feel better. I tried to be nice to him but I think I could or should have done more." She bashfully directed her gaze at the floor. "I hope I get to meet him again, to make it up to him."
"You're kidding. You're kidding, right?" Her ears perked up at the sound of Basstrot's voice. "Chora, you were like a shining beacon of exemplar etiquette in a thick fog of inequine hostility."
"That was amazingly deep for you, try not to drown," said Bolt.
"I'm a musician, of course I'm deep."
"Oh are you now? Well, see that stain on the wall there? That was me, I'm a painter."
"Ha bloody ha, just because you don't appreciate my art form."
"Obviously I don't, I have ears. Not that you'd understand," Bolt remarked with a look at Basstrot's torn auditory structures.
"Bass?" Chora whispered, only partly to stop another row. "Did you really mean that? Really?"
"Of course I did silly," he laughed. He returned his eyes to hers. For a moment, Chora felt the side of Basstrot she so adored bubble back to the surface, and she tingled inside when he even reached over and patted her shoulder. "Sorry, you had a speck of filth there, but I got it." Thus the moment passed. "Anyway, you were heaps good compared to me. Geez," he sighed as he thought back on the event, "what a mess. I don't know what came over me… that's a lie; I was confronted with something I didn't expect and couldn't accept, and I was obnoxious in stating as much. I don't know why though… that's a lie; I'm an insensitive oaf. I'm a moron." His head drooped. "I… I didn't know."
"Chin up," Bolt laughed quietly from across the room, "as Saving Guard said, it's me who's an im- Uh, what was it again?"
"Impolite, insensitive, impudent foal of a pony?" Grace offered.
"Right, um, thanks."
"Actually Bolt she said that about me," came Basstrot's muffled voice. He now had his head in his lap with his forelegs wrapped around his face.
"Oh, sorry. But still, I was insensitive too. We needed to offer our support to him, but, regardless of whatever everypony else did and didn't do, I failed." He fiddled with the circlet bands on his legs. "I need to tell him he's still my friend despite what I did and didn't say."
A sharp intake of breath drew everypony's attention to Saving Grace.
"While we're at it, I wish it to be known that I, too, have reflected on my participation in this evening's activities. I am as sorry as the rest of you, and I hope to apologise to Wonderwhy as well. It was incorrect and inexcusable for me to act so brusquely and without delicacy, which was what was wanted."
The four ponies fell quiet. Grace stared blankly at a wall; Bolt continued fumbling with his bands; Bass was sitting up again but was still slouched and gloomy; Chora had a foreleg lightly draped around his shoulder while she stared at the floor.
"I can't do this," Grace announced suddenly, startling the others. "I cannot sit here doing nothing. Wonderwhy must be finding it hard to see and walk in the dark and he doesn't know the area. We have to look for him again." Before anypony said or did anything further, sounds of knocking came from the front door. Mass gasping ensued when the door opened to reveal Valorous.
"Calm yourself Gracie, he's right here." She stepped aside to let Wonderwhy enter the building. A deafening silence descended. It was none other than Wonderwhy who eventually broke it.
"Guys, there's no point not telling you all that Val and I got back just as you moved from Bass' place. We were going to announce ourselves, but, you were so into your discussion that we waited. And listened." There was a collective holding of breath. "I don't think anypony behaved quite right today. But, it's done." He turned to Val with a smile. "It's in the past, meaning we can learn from it. We all know what we did wrong, so we can avoid repeating any of this." He started to laugh. "Hay, I overreacted too. I'm not going to forget that you're all my friends because of tonight." He strode across the room to Grace. "I look forward to catching up properly after all these years." He bent down to hug the bemused but relieved unicorn before sidling across to Bolt. "I know you don't like having to deal with lots of change quickly, it's not your fault you weren't warned." He raised a foreleg for a hoofbump. Bolt, a unicorn just as bemused but relieved as the last, went through with the gesture. Only when he almost fell off his stool did he remember that his old friend had always performed a mean hoofbump, once attributed to his great size but now seemingly an independent trait. Wonderwhy then crossed the room again to stand before Basstrot. "You know, it's oddly pleasing to see you're the same old bonehead."
"Well I do aim to please," Bass said with a smile as he too weathered a killer hoofbump. Finally, Wonderwhy turned to Chora.
"I look forward to hearing more about you," she said cheerily.
"And I you, Chora Featherstep." They shook hooves for the second time. "A friend of Basstrot is a friend of mine."
"So, um, what would you like me to call you, sir? I hear that your nickname used to be, well, Bee," she said with a giggle. "Is that still alright?"
"I call him Blue myself," Valorous chipped in. Wonderwhy smiled as he turned to a mirror hanging on the wall. In it, he saw reflected his friends of white, blue, purple, green, black, and yellow, with his own blue and purple self in the middle.
"You can call me either. After all, they're both me, Wonderwhy."