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Roommates - Ch. 39 (The Calm)

Sep 16th, 2016
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  1. Roommates has moved! You can now read it at Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/works/11250126/navigate
  2.  
  3. Roommates - Ch. 39 (The Calm): http://i.imgur.com/ZGJdneU.png
  4. Inspired by Weaver's Five Nights at Freddy's Apartment AU: http://i.imgur.com/LnDJVNL.png
  5. Part of an ongoing series written for the /5N@F/ General Discussion Thread at /vg/.
  6. Sincerest thanks to Weaver (http://tgweaver.tumblr.com/) for all of the invaluable assistance in writing, proofreading, and editing this story as well as for illustrating the chapter title cards.
  7. Additionally, thanks to Systemeth (http://pastebin.com/u/Systemeth) for proofreading and editing this chapter.
  8. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at http://roommatesau.tumblr.com/
  9.  
  10. ---
  11.  
  12. It's still dark outside, but today you're up early anyway. It's nice to simply bask in the quiet of the morning for once; the apartment's usual daily hustle and bustle will begin soon enough. For now, you aim to enjoy the peace.
  13.  
  14. The living room's mostly immaculate, having been freshly vacuumed just before everyone went to bed. The kitchen table's been wiped clean, and the dishes are resting neatly in the drying rack on the counter. Hanging on the door of the refrigerator is the chore chart you and Bonbon made together -- each column full of colored shapes signifying that everyone's duties were taken care of by day's end. Opening the door to the fridge, you observe with pride that it's been stripped, scrubbed, and restocked with fresh groceries; Bonbon got her "community task" for the week knocked out early, it would seem.
  15.  
  16. A bowl of cereal sounds great right about now, and you need something on your stomach in order to take your pain pills. Unscrewing the cap to the milk carton, you take a whiff only to immediately regret doing so. Looks like Bonbon wasn't quite so thorough in her cleaning. Ah well, close enough. You replace the cap and toss the container of rotten dairy sludge in the nearby trash can, deciding to settle for a bowl of microwave oatmeal instead.
  17.  
  18. It's been a few days since you came to stay with the residents of 87-A, and you're finally into December now. Turning over the calendar page from November felt like a massive burden being lifted from your shoulders -- both the good and the bad aside, you're just content to put last month behind you. Of course, you can't help but note with mixed feelings that the bright red circles on the paper indicate HumieCon's not far away.
  19.  
  20. That'll be fun.
  21.  
  22. Not that you need the calendar to remind you, considering that every morning Bonbon hurls Peanut's door open, enthusiastically screaming the countdown out to both of you at the top of her lungs. You're glad to have beaten her to the punch on waking up for once -- it's not even five AM yet, and she's still snoozing away in her bedroom. The temptation to kick her door in and shout in her ears is real, but you'll be nice and spare her.
  23.  
  24. For now, anyway.
  25.  
  26. Torn between maple and brown sugar or apple cinnamon oatmeal, you eventually decide that you're in more of a maple mood. After microwaving and eating your meal without even bothering to sit down, you rinse out your bowl, pop your pills, and head to the bathroom to get ready for your morning. As long as you're up early, you might as well make the most of it.
  27.  
  28. You're showered, shaved, and dressed before half past five and nobody's so much as made a peep. Fine by you -- you have someone you want to visit today anyway. Bonbon and the others will survive without you for a few hours.
  29.  
  30. Collecting your coat from the rack by the door -- and noting with a smile that it's hung up at the end of the rack next to all of its eclectic coat friends -- you head outside into the snow. The cold weather's finally begun to make the shift from "cold but invigorating" to "Spring can't get here fast enough", so you don't want to be out in the white stuff any longer than you have to be. Fortunately, it's a short walk over to Building 9, and Marion's been nothing but diligent about keeping the community's roads clear, partially because of all of the service trucks that have been in and out of the complex working on renovations.
  31.  
  32. Before the end of the year, April Marchand May will finally have an apartment to call her own, and you'll be able to move back home.
  33.  
  34. Climbing up the stairs to Building 9, you steel your nerves. You've been so busy over the last several days -- your all-day lunch outing with Fred, helping out around the new apartment, bouncing back and forth between both Mangles for costume prep, and being held captive for binge watching Bonbon's humie cartoons -- that you haven't even called, let alone visited since your "episode".
  35.  
  36. Raising your fist to the door, you gently pound twice before burying your hands in your pockets. Several minutes pass before heavy thuds ring out across the tiled floor. You cringe as the familiar sound of metal rhythmically striking fills your ears, slowly getting louder on the approach. Swallowing, you resist the urge to back up out of instinct.
  37.  
  38. Here, it's normal. Here, it's okay.
  39.  
  40. 93-B's front door swings open and a bleary-eyed, housecoat-frocked half-rabbit looks up to greet you with a yawn. "I'm awful sorry 'bout the noise, Ms. Presto, but for the last time I can't -- Mike?"
  41.  
  42. "Hi, Bonworth," you reply with a smile, tugging your jacket collar down. "Sorry for showing up so early without warning."
  43.  
  44. His ears snap straight up as he lurches toward you, enveloping you in a tight bear hug. "Not at all, Mike. We've been beside ourselves fretting about you," Bonworth murmurs worriedly, the metal in his arms pressing into your back so firmly you know he has to be in discomfort himself. "Only hearing bits and pieces, never gettin' the full story -- I don't know what hell you've been through, but you never had to go it alone."
  45.  
  46. "I've had a little help here and there," you respond quietly as he releases you. "I'm getting better, though."
  47.  
  48. Bonworth motions for you to step inside, closing the door behind you once you're in. "Well c'mon in and tell us about it. I'll go get Chica up," he says, limping towards her door.
  49.  
  50. "Nah, don't wake her up on my account, Bonworth," you reply, taking a seat in the living room.
  51.  
  52. "Sorry, Mike -- made her a promise that as soon as I heard anythin' I'd let her know immediately. Can't see anyone better to give her the skinny than the fella in question." He raps twice at her door before letting himself into her bedroom. Minutes later, you hear an excited squawk and a pair of thumps as Cheeky hurries out into the living room in her negligee, a red-faced Bonworth following right after.
  53.  
  54. "Well I had to put SOMETHING on," she mutters back to him. Aaand that explains his expression. "Mike! Oh, sweetie, how are you?"
  55.  
  56. "I'm -- doing better," you respond as she hurries over beside you, plopping down next to you on the sofa. "What was the last you'd heard?"
  57.  
  58. Cheeky and Bonworth exchange looks before she finally decides to take the lead. "We heard there was an -- outburst," Cheeky says slowly. "Fred Fazbear told everyone on our side of the complex the next morning to kind of, you know, keep our distance and give you some time to recover and readjust. I've wanted to come over and visit, but he didn't think that was a good idea."
  59.  
  60. "Been awful hard keeping quiet over here," Bonworth cautiously chimes in. "I mean, we wanted to come and drag you over here to our place where we could keep you safe. I sure didn't want you to think I only cared about you rescuin' my little sister, Mike, but the way this has all shaken out, I feel like we went and left you in the cold."
  61.  
  62. "I wouldn't have minded. You guys could've come over any time," you reply, frowning a little in the direction of the downstairs apartment. "I'm not sure why Fred would -- well, no, I know exactly why Fred would say something like that. I'm not going to lie, we didn't, uh -- we didn't part on the greatest of terms."
  63.  
  64. Bonworth settles into his usual chair, looking at you with concern. "Would it be too untoward of me to ask you for your side of the story, then?"
  65.  
  66. "Not at all. You guys are my friends, I figure you have every right to know." You unzip your jacket and gently drape it over Cheeky's lap as she nestles in next to you, enveloping your shoulders with a wing. "Hey, this is pretty comfy."
  67.  
  68. "I'm all about comfy," she grins before turning serious. "But really, Mike, if you don't want to talk about it..."
  69.  
  70. You gently shake your head. "As long as I don't get too caught up in the details, I'll be okay. So Bonworth and I had gone to the restaurant with Fred, and then you both were there when we brought Beanie back to Fred's apartment, uh... Mangle came and got you for the massage, and--"
  71.  
  72. "Which was excellent, by the way," Cheeky gleefully interrupts. "Holy shit, Mike, you weren't kidding. I slept like a freakin' brick after that, and when I woke up my feathers felt softer than they ever have."
  73.  
  74. Chuckling, you're glad to know the gesture wasn't wasted on her. Thinking back to your own impromptu, unsolicited massage, it DID feel pretty amazing, even if you were more than a little pissy about feeling violated at the time.
  75.  
  76. "Chalk it up to those infamous 'healing paws', I guess."
  77.  
  78. "You're telling me." She yawns, wiping some of the smeared makeup from her eyes with the back of her fist. "Mike, you've GOTTA get me onto Foxglove's regular client list. For, uh, you know -- physical therapy purposes."
  79.  
  80. "I'll see if I can pull some strings," you reply with a wink. "So, uh, I guess we're picking up after everyone left for the night. Let's see..."
  81.  
  82. You proceed to give Bonworth and Cheeky an abridged version of the events that followed, sparing as much intimate detail as you can while making sure they get the gist of what went on. You touch only briefly on your nightmares and hallucinations, explaining most of it away as the aftershock of your ordeal at Jeremy Human's -- a mutual trauma you know they'll be able to empathize with.
  83.  
  84. With reluctance, you finally force yourself to the end of the recap in which you offhandedly mentioned Goldie in front of everyone, which culminated in your public sedation and subsequent ousting from 93-A. Bonworth and Cheeky listen ashen-faced to your entire retelling, taking extra care to not interrupt you even once throughout.
  85.  
  86. "And then I ended up heading back home to my old apartment for the night before moving in with Bonbon the next day. I've been at her place since," you finish, drumming your fingers on your lap. "That's pretty much everything."
  87.  
  88. "Ugh. I feel horrible." Cheeky tugs you close, resting your head on her soft down. "I knew it. I knew I should've never gone and left you that night. I bet you could have avoided so much of this mess."
  89.  
  90. "Maybe it's for the better, you know? Maybe I just needed to work it out of my system." Sighing, you lean into her, staring out the window. It's still dark as pitch; the sun won't be rising for another hour or so. "I still can't shake the feeling that it wasn't just a hallucination; I mean, you could have convinced me I was actually talking to Goldie Fazbear. He looked as real as either of you do right now."
  91.  
  92. Quiet settles over the room. Bonworth seems lost in thought, while Cheeky's simply content to hold you close.
  93.  
  94. "What was he like?" you murmur after a few seconds of silence. "Goldie, I mean. When he 'appeared' to me -- he seemed like a calm, professional, level-headed kind of guy. Soft-spoken but confident."
  95.  
  96. Cheeky nods in agreement as you ease off of her shoulder. "That sounds about like him, yeah. Goldie was a consummate professional -- hell of a nice guy, too. He was the one who hired me on. Did my interview and everything."
  97.  
  98. "Same," Bonworth adds, pulling himself up from his seat. "'Course, it helped that I was a mutual friend of the owner's brother." He ducks into his bedroom for a few moments before coming back with a photo album. You scoot over on the sofa to give him room to sit between you and Cheeky; it's a snug, but not uncomfortable fit.
  99.  
  100. "Here we are," he says, laying the album across his lap. Bonworth flips through the pages with surprising proficiency, quickly moving past family photos to an unlabeled section all the way in the back of the book. You recognize a few of the photos from Fred's office message board, but as he reaches the end of the album you recoil upon seeing a large-scale print that takes up the entirety of the last page.
  101.  
  102. A pair of familiar faces are posing together for a group picture. To the left of the photo is an easily-recognized young Bonworth, wearing the standard-issue Jeremy Human's employee uniform. On the far right side of the picture is a large cardboard cutout of the smiling, cheerful cartoon version of Jeremy Human (obviously off-model), but the person in the center of the group is the one your eye can't help but be drawn to.
  103.  
  104. Goldie Fazbear stands prominently in the middle of the picture, staring into the camera with tired eyes and a hesitant smile. His glistening fur shines like his namesake, almost sparkling in the camera's flash. His purple silk hat rests neatly over his chest, supported by one paw while the other is placed on Bonworth's shoulder. He's dressed very nicely in his trademark fancy violet clothes, not unlike Fred's own choice of formal attire when he was "working" his shift as the manager.
  105.  
  106. Looking at the photo for reference, it's amazing how accurate your perception of him was. He looks exactly the way you remember seeing him.
  107.  
  108. "Opening Day," you murmur, tracing a finger along the labeled edge of the photo.
  109.  
  110. "He was so damn proud of that place," Cheeky quips as she squints down at the page. "You wanna talk about someone who was married to their work? Goldie spent every waking moment walking the halls, mopping floors, waiting tables, filing paperwork -- even when the franchise expanded he was still magnetically drawn to that building downtown."
  111.  
  112. You nod, taking this information in. "So that's where Fred got it from?"
  113.  
  114. "Sorta. Fred was kind of rambunctious before Goldie died. Something in him changed afterward, though." Cheeky tugs at the hem of her negligee. "But that's not really my business to comment on, so I'll leave it there."
  115.  
  116. "Y'know, it's peculiar to me." Bonworth taps the picture idly, but his own gaze is elsewhere. "You and my little bun seeing the same thing. It's somethin' of a corker, since she swears she hadn't been talkin' to you about it, so I'm not really sure why it's Goldie Fazbear of all people you're seeing."
  117.  
  118. "What're you thinking, Bonnie? Our apartment complex is haunted by the ghost of Fred's brother?" Cheeky deadpans, coughing slightly. There's a little bit of unevenness to her voice as if she's struggling to decide whether she finds it funny or not. "I never, uh -- never really figured you for the occult type, Bon."
  119.  
  120. "I ain't," he says quickly. "No, no. Look, I know my little sister has her burdens to bear. But hearin' Mike say all this? Well, it just sounds so much like everything she's been saying for the last couple years. Like I'm hearing it all over again."
  121.  
  122. "Yeah, but her situation's different from Mike's." Cheeky chews at the tip of one of her wrist feathers in thought before making a face and plucking it loose from her wing. "Isn't it?"
  123.  
  124. Bonworth turns to her, a shaky smile on his mouth. "Well, sure. She's... been through a lot. Not that you haven't, too, Mike! But for as much as I know she has some trouble telling what's real when it comes to him, Chica, she's never been a liar. Not to me. You haven't heard the things she's told me in confidence."
  125.  
  126. Laughing nervously, he pulls at his ear the way you've seen him and just about all of the other rabbits do in moments of stress or pressure. "I mean, in a way, she ain't lying, right? If she says she's seen Goldie, I know at least that she believes she has. And I'm sure Mike believes it, too."
  127.  
  128. Frustrated, you lean back against the couch. "At this point I don't know what the hell to believe."
  129.  
  130. "It's not real," Cheeky adds, warningly.
  131.  
  132. Bonworth immediately nods agreement. "Yeah. Yeah, I ain't saying it is. But it's real to them."
  133.  
  134. "Maybe I should talk to Beanie about it," you interject. "It'd do some good for the two of us to get in touch anyway, since I haven't seen her after, well, everything."
  135.  
  136. "Maybe," Bonworth somberly echoes. "But... just, be careful, okay Mike? On the one hand I could see her gettin' some catharsis outta having someone to commiserate with. On the other, she probably wants to put it all behind her. And the truth is I don't rightly know what'd be better for her. All I know is we're not supposed to be feeding her... delusions. I could get my mom's opinion, but she's just a small town physician, not a shrink."
  137.  
  138. "Speaking of shrinks..." Sighing, you scratch your head as you look over the photo of Goldie one more time. "Do you guys think I'm crazy?"
  139.  
  140. "Nope," Cheeky drawls. "Do I think you've been through some crazy shit? Yeah, I'd say so. Do I think you're crazy for it? Not unless you want to be."
  141.  
  142. "Mike, I don't think my little sister's off her rocker, and she's been tellin' me stories like this for I don't know how long. You had a bad couple nights. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, but havin' a few bad encounters, that doesn't change what you are. Me, I say you're what you do, not what you think." Bonworth nudges your shoulder with a wink. "Now if you start actin' loopy, then maybe we'll see 'bout getting you fit for a straitjacket."
  143.  
  144. "Oooh! Let's get him one anyway!" Cheeky claps her wings, rubbing her wingertips together with a fiendish smile. "Then I can wear my nurse outfit and we can crash Marion's next costume party!"
  145.  
  146. "Oh, god." You're imagining her pushing you around the room in a wheelchair while you try to eat cocktail sausages off the snack bar without the use of your hands. "If it's all the same I think I'd rather borrow Carrol's stethoscope and just go as a doctor instead."
  147.  
  148. Winking, Cheeky reaches around Bonworth to tease your cheek with a feathertip. "I'll play doctor with you anytime if you'd like, Mikey."
  149.  
  150. "Why, Nurse Cheeky, I thought you'd never ask. I didn't get my medical license for nothing, you know. In fact, I didn't get my medical license at all!" You raise an eyebrow, rubbing your chin in an exaggerated display of comical lechery as Bonworth groans.
  151.  
  152. "Lord help me, there's two of 'em now," he chuckles, closing the photo album and setting it on the coffee table. "Y'know, Chica, you reminded me -- speakin' of ol' Marion, I imagine he could probably use some help down at the front desk again, so I'd better get dressed."
  153.  
  154. "Oh, you're still working down there? Good for you, Bonworth," you reply.
  155.  
  156. Bonworth shrugs, tightening the straps on his prosthetics before forcing himself off of the couch with gentle assistance from Cheeky.
  157.  
  158. "Something to keep busy, I suppose," he says, ambling towards his bedroom door. "All that being said, maybe you're right, Mike. Might be good for you to swing on by an' talk to the lil bunny later, even if it's just to say hello. She hasn't mentioned anything to me, but I imagine she's probably worried about you too."
  159.  
  160. You nod, making a note to visit Beanie later. The thought's occurred to you to do so a couple of times over the last few days, but Bonbon's crew has kept you so busy you haven't had much time for yourself at all -- hence why you're up and out so early this morning.
  161.  
  162. "Will do, Bonworth. Have a good day at work, then," you offer, standing up from the couch. Cheeky pulls your jacket off of her lap, brushing one of her loose feathers off of the left cuff before handing it back to you. "Oh, thanks. I guess I'd better get running too, then."
  163.  
  164. "Sure thing. Get well soon so we can start hanging out again, and by hanging out I mean having you cook for me. I miss having a steady source of edible, non-frozen food."
  165.  
  166. Snorting, you tug your jacket on with a smile as you head for the entrance. "Glad to know I'm appreciated. See you later, guys!"
  167.  
  168. "See ya, Mike!"
  169.  
  170. "Yup. Later, Mikey."
  171.  
  172.  
  173.  
  174. The first thing you smell upon returning to Bonbon's apartment is the stench of spray paint. It's strong, too; the fumes are nearly enough to make you gag as you walk inside. Covering your mouth with your sleeve, you press forward into the common area to see a masked Mango hunched over the kitchen table, furiously shellacking the acrylic components for your costume with chrome spray paint. You note with a twinge of pride that newspaper and cardboard are spread around neatly in an effort to contain the mess.
  175.  
  176. "Oh, hello, Mike!" she calls out, her voice faintly muffled by her mask. "I didn't know you'd gone out. You're up early today!"
  177.  
  178. "Morning, Mango. I went to visit some friends in the other apartment." You quickly hang your coat up before snagging a clean shop rag to use as a makeshift breather. "I don't suppose we could take this outside so we don't stink up the house with paint fumes?"
  179.  
  180. "No, sorry," she laments, adjusting the nozzle on her spray can. "Between the cold and the snow, the paint would ruin. It has to be done in here where it's warm and dry. I'm almost done, though!"
  181.  
  182. You nod, keeping your distance as she resumes her frenetic, energized painting. True to her word, she's finished with the task in just a few minutes.
  183.  
  184. "The laundry room's well-insulated and I don't think anyone will be using it today, so would you mind setting these in there to dry while I clear the table?" Mango asks after doffing her mask.
  185.  
  186. "Not a problem. What is all this stuff, anyway? Looks like the Bobulator, maybe?"
  187.  
  188. "That's right." She pulls a reference picture of Bob out of one of the pockets on her painter's smock to show you. "Once the paint dries I'll be able to assemble it all together using cyanoacrylate."
  189.  
  190. "Cyano-- what? Acrylic?" you ask, hefting the cardboard tray.
  191.  
  192. "Cyanoacrylate. But you probably know it better as 'super glue' -- it's that really strong glue that comes in the little metal tube. It's really powerful adhesive, but I wouldn't want to risk using anything else unless you want your costume to literally fall apart at the seams."
  193.  
  194. "Ah, gotcha. I think I remember my dad once trying to fix the broken handle on our old refrigerator using that kind of stuff." You smile wryly, thinking back to the incident. "He ended up giving up after gluing his work glove to the fridge instead."
  195.  
  196. "Oh, is that all? Sounds like he came out of the exchange better than poor Freddy did last time he tried using it."
  197.  
  198. You wince, pausing halfway to the laundry room. "Oh geez. Do I even want to know what happened?"
  199.  
  200. Pressing a clawtip to her messy lipstick (most of which seems to have rubbed off inside her mask), Mango smiles lightheartedly. "He popped a seam in his favorite pair of trousers right before his shift and decided to repair it with glue. We ended up having to take him over to see Dr. Rabbinson. Let's just say that he'll use a needle and a thread next time."
  201.  
  202. "Yikes." You deposit the slab full of painted pieces on top of the washing machine's lid before returning to the living room to finish helping Mango neaten up the table.
  203.  
  204. "So, Mango, we haven't really had much opportunity to get to know each other over the last few days. You're usually gone from the house all day and then, you know, we typically end up watching whatever Bonbon wants to watch on TV when you get in."
  205.  
  206. "That's a good point, we haven't really talked much, have we? I confess I've been pretty curious about you, since you're new to the community and all."
  207.  
  208. The vixen takes off her smock, revealing a teal-and-white paisley-patterned dress underneath. Tossing the used smock in the laundry hamper designated for her use (as part of establishing boundaries for household chores, every member of the apartment now has their own laundry basket stationed directly outside their bedroom door), she proceeds to the kitchen.
  209.  
  210. "Well, I suppose we could do what I do with my kids," Mango muses aloud as she turns the sink faucet on, lathering her paws with lemon-scented soap while the water warms up. "We take turns asking and answering questions about each other. Why don't you start by asking me a question, and then I'll do the same?"
  211.  
  212. Sounds easy enough. "Alrighty. So are you a private tutor, then? Or do you work at a school?"
  213.  
  214. "Oh no, just private tutoring; I prefer a hands-on, one-on-one approach to teaching," Mango replies as she dries her paws off on a towel hanging from the oven door handle. "I run a regular ad in the community newsletter, and I'll answer just about any job, even if it's something as simple as babysitting."
  215.  
  216. You lean against the kitchen counter while she begins ferreting around in the cupboards for a coffee mug.
  217.  
  218. "That's pretty cool! You seem like the type that'd be good with kids." Mostly because the entire apartment might as well be full of children. "Okay, your turn."
  219.  
  220. "Hmm. Let's start off with something simple. Do you have any hobbies?" She pauses from filling the coffee maker, tail swishing behind herself. "Or anything you like to do for fun?"
  221.  
  222. "Well, I do like movies. I'm pretty interested in all the behind the scenes stuff, too, like camerawork and cinematography. That's not to say I'm really knowledgeable or anything, though." Well, not about this world's movies, anyway. Back home, you were brutal at trivia games whenever it came to film questions. "Uh, what else -- well, apparently I'm a fashion model for your rival."
  223.  
  224. She rolls her eyes as she turns the coffee pot on to percolate before resting against the counter to face you. "Yes, I've seen Foxglove's 'fashion' line," she mutters in disgust. "I've also seen some of Foxglove's other 'business endeavors', but let's not go there."
  225.  
  226. "Huh. Okay." You make a mental note to head upstairs and pick Mangle's brain sometime for details on their feud, if for no other reason than the fact it's entertaining as hell watching both foxes getting worked up over each other. Better drama than any soap opera on television, guaranteed. "So I take it then that fashion design's not your thing?"
  227.  
  228. "I prefer to exercise my creativity in positive ways," she remarks, waving a paw to the splatter-paint canvas curtains in the living room. "I find I get more smiles with crafts and costumes than clothes. Hopefully that remains true in your case!"
  229.  
  230. "Well, I'm not that thrilled about stuffing into a pair of tights, but Bonbon was pretty keen on it, and I'm told there's a costume contest with a pretty damn nice prize. Which I'll be sharing with you AND Mangle when I win," you add with a chuckle. "After all, I owe you guys something for all the hours and hours as well as the materials you've put into making this thing."
  231.  
  232. Mango smiles. "That's very generous of you, but you don't need to give me any money. I had so many of the odds and ends leftover from previous projects anyway. I wouldn't say no to a piece of red velvet cake, though!"
  233.  
  234. "I'll do you one better. I'll go ask Chichi to make you an entire red velvet cake. She's quite the baker, if you haven't noticed."
  235.  
  236. "Oooh, believe me, I've noticed." She pats her hips with an embarrassed smile. "Unfortunately, most of those cakes tend to go straight here, and I'm finding it a little harder to squeeze into my corset these days. Might be time to break out my yoga mat again and let Bonnie put me through the paces."
  237.  
  238. "Lady, I hear you," you grin. "This spare tire I've picked up isn't getting any smaller with all of Freddy's fattening food I've gotten to eat. I'll probably be joining you guys on the mats for jazzercise or crunches or whatever it is Bonbon does."
  239.  
  240. Speaking of the devil, one of the hall doors opens and Bonbon comes bouncing out in her nightgown. Apparently not having noticed you, she rubs her eyes before creeping over to Peanut's door with a barely-contained smile on her face, biting her lower lip as she prepares for her morning routine of screaming out the number of days left till the convention. You press a finger to your lips as a signal to Mango before sneaking up behind the blue rabbit.
  241.  
  242. As Bonbon opens his door and draws a deep breath, you grab her shoulder, spinning her around with a manic grin on your face.
  243.  
  244. "Three days till HumieCon!" you shout, startling her. Shrieking in surprise, she jumps high enough off the floor that her ears smack against the ceiling with a pair of dual whaps before gravity kicks in and she drops back to the carpet like a cartoon character.
  245.  
  246. "Mike, that was vicious!" she gasps after catching her breath. Her face quickly turns back to her usual chipper expression, however. "But I like the fact you're as excited about it as I am! We'll make a humie out of you yet!"
  247.  
  248. "Well, I don't know about THAT," you reply with a grin. "But yeah, I'm looking forward to it." Looking forward to it being over, mostly, but you might as well have fun while you're there. Extending a hand to her, you help her off the ground as Mango begins pouring coffee for everyone -- a full cup for herself, a full cup for you, and a teaspoon for Bonbon.
  249.  
  250. "Sweet. That's what I wanna hear. Mornin', Mangle!"
  251.  
  252. "Morning, Bonnie!"
  253.  
  254. "Hey, Mike, can you grab me a bowl for some cereal?" Bonbon asks as she sashays into the living room to spread out her exercise mat. "I'm extra hungry today."
  255.  
  256. You cast a nervous glance in the direction of the trash can with the long-expired milk carton that was bordering on gaining sentience before turning back to her.
  257.  
  258. "Cereal? Uh, not such a good idea, Bonbon. Hey, how about some oatmeal instead?"
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