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Roommates - Ch. 22 (Hugs and Kisses)

Feb 13th, 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. 22 (Hugs and Kisses): http://i.imgur.com/3sWnNfd.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. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at http://roommatesau.tumblr.com/
  8.  
  9. ---
  10.  
  11. Fred's desk clock informs you that it's six AM on the dot.
  12.  
  13. While the futon wasn't the most comfortable bed you've ever had the pleasure of staying in, you can't deny feeling better after a solid eight hours of sleep for once. The apartment sounds quiet this morning, so you unzip your luggage, gathering a fresh change of clothes and a few toiletries before pattering down the east hallway in search of the bathroom. Might as well freshen up before you have to face another day.
  14.  
  15. Making your way through the common area, a sudden sound of pots and pans crashing against each other pierces the air, vaporizing the morning calm. As soon as your heart rate slows back down to acceptable levels, you stumble toward the kitchen to find Chichi humming to herself, oblivious to your presence.
  16.  
  17. "Everything all right?" you ask worriedly.
  18.  
  19. Surprised by your sudden appearance, Chichi fumbles the empty saucepan she's holding, causing it to bounce off the floor with another earsplitting clang. "Oh! Mike, you startled me," she giggles sheepishly, kneeling to gather the fallen cookware. She examines the pan for damage before brushing some dust off of it with her wingtips.
  20.  
  21. "Huh, that's pretty handy," you observe. "Err, if you'll pardon the unintended pun."
  22.  
  23. "A little trick my mama taught me when I was young. Built-in feather dusters are but one of the many perks of being a chicken," Chichi boasts. Suddenly, she scrunches up her face like she's just eaten something bitter. "Of course, you can't have feathers without molting, but I'm trying not to think about it since I'm due to start again any day."
  24.  
  25. You give her a sympathetic nod; though you're no ornithologist, if Chiclet's comments about being plucked were anything to go by, you can't imagine molting to be an enjoyable process.
  26.  
  27. "So did you sleep all right?" she asks, pulling open the door to the massive stainless steel fridge.
  28.  
  29. "Oh, definitely. I feel a lot better this morning, thanks. Would it, uh... would it be too much to ask to use the shower, y'know, before I head out?"
  30.  
  31. Withdrawing a carton of milk, she unscrews the cap and takes a whiff. "Leaving before you have breakfast? Not happening in my kitchen."
  32.  
  33. Your mind flickers back to Fred's comment about 'bed and breakfast' last night. "Ah, well, Fred seemed pretty intent on me leaving as soon as possible," you answer, scuffing your foot on the checkered tile floor. "I don't want to overstay my welcome."
  34.  
  35. Chichi shakes her head adamantly. "I absolutely will not send you out into the November cold without a proper meal in your tummy." Dusting off one of the barstools with her feathers, she motions for you to take a seat at the kitchen counter. "Now, how about some sausage and eggs?"
  36.  
  37. "Oh -- oh, no, that's way too much effort," you protest. "I'd be fine with just some cereal or a granola bar."
  38.  
  39. "Perfect! Sausage and eggs it is," Chichi blithely declares. "Go get yourself cleaned up, but hurry back. Don't you dare think about skipping out on me, mister."
  40.  
  41. "Fair enough," you chuckle. "Only if Fred's okay with it though."
  42.  
  43. "My kitchen, my rules. It might be Mr. Fazbear's name on the lease but I pay more than my fair share of the rent." She suddenly clamps both wings over her beak as if she's just said something shameful. "Err... don't tell him I said that."
  44.  
  45. You give her a covert wink as you push the kitchen's swinging doors open. "Don't worry, I've already run my mouth enough for one week. Your secret's safe with me."
  46.  
  47. "I appreciate it."
  48.  
  49.  
  50.  
  51. You don't know how early Fred gets up and don't want to incur his wrath by beating him to the washroom on a work day, so you speed through your morning shower without even bothering to shave.
  52.  
  53. After scrubbing off and hastily getting dressed, you check the clock -- it's not even 6:15 yet. You're initially quite proud of yourself for being so expedient, but your smug grin gives way the moment you spot Fred seated at one of the kitchen barstools, sipping a steaming mug of coffee with a dour expression.
  54.  
  55. Mustering as much cheeriness as you can, you give him a friendly wave.
  56.  
  57. "Good mornin'," you offer. Fred glares at you, freezing you in place as the two of you lock gazes. You aren't certain where you remember hearing it, but you're pretty sure you're supposed to hold direct eye contact with an angry bear. Or maybe it was that you're not supposed to...? At this point you're not willing to risk changing things up.
  58.  
  59. "You're still here?" Fred grumbles as he breaks off a piece of a cake doughnut to dunk in his coffee.
  60.  
  61. "No sir, I was just leaving," you lie blatantly, releasing your grip on the back of the barstool you were in the process of seating yourself in. "I just came to, er, thank you for your hospit--"
  62.  
  63. You're interrupted by the sound of him snorting. You stare in mild confusion for a few moments before realizing that he's just having some fun at your expense.
  64.  
  65. "Have a seat. My brother would have fought me on it if he knew I was letting a guest leave hungry," Fred smirks, diverting his attention to the morning paper.
  66.  
  67. With a nervous smile, you abide by his request so as to not piss him off, taking a seat at the far end of the kitchen counter. Conversation's a little slow this morning with Chichi busy cooking and Fazbear otherwise distracted with the newspaper, so you casually study your surroundings. Like the rest of the warehouse-turned-apartment, the kitchen is similarly "industrial", appearing as if it may have been converted from something else. Oversized commercial appliances take up the majority of the room, not the least of which are a set of double wall ovens and an impressive-looking range with six burners and a built-in griddle.
  68.  
  69. Huge cabinets and cupboards mounted overhead look as if they're capable of storing much larger items than the conventional cereal boxes and soup cans one would expect to find in a domestic household. The door to the nearby pantry is propped open, revealing metal racks full of a healthy stock of ingredients and foodstuffs. Large sacks of flour and sugar are visibly piled up neatly on the floor inside.
  70.  
  71. Chichi carefully adjusts the temperature on the stove with one wing while energetically stirring water in a pot with her other. "Has anyone seen Foxy?" she inquires, glancing over her shoulder at Fred.
  72.  
  73. "Better not be holed up in his room again," Fred says, not even looking up from his paper. "He keeps leaving his dishes back there. I keep telling him they're gonna ferment."
  74.  
  75. "Over at Bonbon's, Peanut's been doing the same thing and it drives her crazy," Chichi titters. "Apparently she really had to get onto him about it yesterday when she found a mug full of soup in his room that looked like it had moss growing on it."
  76.  
  77. "I met Peanut just the other day," you chip in. "He seems like a pretty cool guy. A little timid, but that's not bad."
  78.  
  79. "I suppose," Fred says, folding his paper up. "He could be more decisive, though. That household is in bad need of clear leadership."
  80.  
  81. "Bonbon doesn't sort things out for them? She seems like a go-getter."
  82.  
  83. Fred rolls his eyes as he refills his coffee from a carafe. "That walking powderkeg? I'm surprised she has enough of an attention span to tie her shoes in the morning," he grumbles. "All that energy's no good without some discipline."
  84.  
  85. Chichi whips around from the stove to look at Fred. "Mr. Fazbear!"
  86.  
  87. "Oh, don't worry, I won't start in on her degenerate obsession," Fred says. "Especially since she seems to have a sympathizer present."
  88.  
  89. "A sympathizer? What do you mean?" you ask curiously.
  90.  
  91. Without replying, Fred sips at his mug, seemingly waiting for you to puzzle it out on your own. Your wrack your brain for several seconds as you think about everything you know about Bonbon -- electric blue bunny girl, health nut... fitness fanatic... likes cartoons...
  92.  
  93. Your eyes suddenly widen as you replay Bonbon's diatribe about 'human' cartoons and her fascination with your skin over again in your mind.
  94.  
  95. "Oh. OH. No, not-- I'm not like THAT!" you sputter.
  96.  
  97. Fred lets out a short bark of a laugh, drawing Chichi's full attention -- and ire. Wiping her feathers on her apron, Chichi glowers at him disapprovingly.
  98.  
  99. "Mr. Fazbear, what's come over you? Why would you bully our guest like that?"
  100.  
  101. Without even missing a beat, Fred places both of his stout meathooks on the counter, staring her down.
  102.  
  103. "For god's sake, just look at him! He's a grown man, Chica."
  104.  
  105. "Exactly!" she reasons. "So shouldn't he be allowed to enjoy whatever he likes? It's not hurting anyone!"
  106.  
  107. Having firsthand experience recently, you recognize the warning signs of Fred ramping up to say something immediately regrettable. In an attempt to defuse the argument, you lean across the counter between them.
  108.  
  109. "Hey, whoa now. I'm not a, er -- I don't have any weird 'human obsession' or anything like that. If you're talking about my lack of 'fur', well, I'm just not a very hairy guy, uh, naturally." You roll your sleeve up for emphasis, showing off the fine hairs growing along your forearm and bicep. "See? I don't shave my body to look this way -- well, I shave my beard, but that's not really the same."
  110.  
  111. Chichi nods to you sympathetically, dabbing at one of her eyes. "Ohh, Mike. I'm sorry. I didn't know you couldn't grow fur. It's a very distinctive look, though!"
  112.  
  113. Fred's face softens slightly as he examines your arm. "Guess that's what I get for making assumptions." Chichi gives him a stern look, and he begrudgingly tips his hat in your direction. "My apologies."
  114.  
  115. "Don't worry about it," you reply amiably. "So, uh, this is a really nice kitchen you guys have. Your appliances and stuff look all fancy. Like, high-end. Like you'd see in a restaurant."
  116.  
  117. "Thanks!" Chichi responds, carefree smile back in place. "Most of them are mine, but the stove was here when I moved in. I'm actually a baker and I do some catering on the side. Birthday cakes and stuff like that."
  118.  
  119. The cupcake from last night comes back to mind. "I'll bet. That cupcake you gave me was really something else! You probably have people lining up for orders, huh?"
  120.  
  121. "Not as many as I'd like," she sighs. "I've been trying to branch into pies to expand my business, but custom birthday and wedding cakes seem to be all I'm getting traction on. I only took third place last month at the state fair for my rum cream pie." She produces a tiny orange prize ribbon from one of the kitchen drawers for emphasis.
  122.  
  123. "Chica, why isn't that on display with the others in your room?" Fred asks.
  124.  
  125. "Because I know I can do better, and I'm not going to stop until I do," she answers with a determined huff. Tossing the ribbon back in the drawer, Chichi returns to the stove. "Anyway, breakfast is ready!"
  126.  
  127. Shaking his head, Fred pushes his newspaper and coffee mug aside as she places plates in front of both of you. Yours is loaded with two large sausage patties, a poached egg and some freshly sliced bananas.
  128.  
  129. "Hope you like your eggs poached," she says proudly.
  130.  
  131. "Spiffy. I've only ever seen them done that way on TV," you marvel. "How were you able to poach eggs AND cook sausage that quickly?"
  132.  
  133. Chichi serves Fred a similar plate with a notably larger portion than yours. "Well, breakfast sausage cooked in a skillet's not terribly difficult, and it's meant to cook quickly. The eggs were the trickiest part, but I have my secrets."
  134.  
  135. "Tricky egg secrets, huh? So is that a chicken thing or a chef thing?" you joke.
  136.  
  137. "Hmm! I wonder!" Chichi giggles as she begins plating for herself. To your surprise, she loads her dish down with nearly three times the amount of food she served Fred. You can't help but gawk at the heap of greasy sausage patties she's portioned out as she takes a seat between the two of you, but you wisely refrain from commenting on it.
  138.  
  139. "Well, let's eat," she proclaims. A stab of guilt wells up in your chest as you're reminded of Cheeky's own little catchphrase. "Everything okay, Mike?"
  140.  
  141. "Never better," you manage with a weak nod.
  142.  
  143.  
  144.  
  145. Slinging your duffel bag over your shoulder, you take one final look at Fred and Chichi as you stand by the door. "I can't thank you enough for your hospitality. I needed a night alone to just kind of clear my head."
  146.  
  147. "It's fine," Fred replies noncommittally.
  148.  
  149. Chichi straightens her apron a little, beaming as she does. "I'm glad you were able to stop by. Please come back and visit us again soon, it's always nice to spend time with our neighbors!"
  150.  
  151. Fred cocks one of his eyebrows at her, but says nothing as he turns and stomps off in the direction of the washroom.
  152.  
  153. "Don't mind him, he's always grumpy in the mornings," she says with a giggle. "See you around, Mike!"
  154.  
  155. "It was really nice getting to meet you, Chichi," you reply, shaking one of her wings gently. "And Fred as well."
  156.  
  157. After exchanging goodbyes, you saunter outside. November's coming to an end soon enough, and it's not long before you'll need to bundle up tighter than just a jacket and a long-sleeved tee every time you head out. Maybe Mangle would be willing to give you an extra scarf as compensation for your modeling work, though you fear that might be too much to ask for since you have no idea what they cost.
  158.  
  159. Crossing the street with your luggage, you make your way up Building 8's staircase. Tapping twice at the door to 87-B, you steel your nerves for the inevitable tongue-lashing Chiclet is surely going to give you after finding out you couldn't hack it for a full week at Bonworth's.
  160.  
  161. After half a minute of waiting timidly on the porch hoping Bonnibel doesn't ignore you a second time, you finally hear a barely audible voice call out to you from within. You hear the lock and chain rattle for a few seconds as whoever's inside fumbles with it before the door slowly creaks open. A tall, heavily bandaged female rabbit frocked in nothing but a fleece bathrobe looks down at you with her lone eye.
  162.  
  163. "Hello, Mike," April Marchand May whispers softly.
  164.  
  165. "Morning, April," you reply. "Do you mind if I come in?"
  166.  
  167. She wordlessly steps aside. You close the door behind yourself, dropping your bags in the foyer. "So how are you settling in?" you ask.
  168.  
  169. "Never a dull moment," she rattles, scratching absently at the side of her face with a paw. "Very energetic... but welcoming."
  170.  
  171. "I'm glad to hear you're doing well," you reply, hanging your coat up.
  172.  
  173. She pads slowly past you into the common area, and you politely linger in the hallway so as to not give her the impression you're rushing her. April gently lowers herself onto the couch, easing her head onto a bed pillow.
  174.  
  175. As you walk into the apartment, you hear soft music playing from the kitchen. Peering inside, Freddy's tapping one of his feet in time to rock music as he cleans the dishes from breakfast, singing along in his own way. You watch him half-dance for several seconds, occasionally raising one of his fingers in the air as if to direct the performance. Shaking your head with a smile, you turn back to the living room where April's resting.
  176.  
  177. Right on cue, Bonnibel stumbles out of her bedroom. She's wearing an oversized nightie that's also on backwards, and the fur on her head's sticking up in no fewer than three different directions. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she mumbles something in April's direction before spotting you in the kitchen.
  178.  
  179. "Morning, Bonnie," you greet.
  180.  
  181. Bonnibel freezes in place for a moment as her eyes meet yours. Ever so slowly she begins moving forward until she's much too close for comfort. She presses both of her paws against your face, rubbing and feeling your cheeks and nose for an uncomfortable length of time.
  182.  
  183. "Mike?" she finally ventures. "...the 'real' Mike?"
  184.  
  185. "Hey, I'm told I have a 'distinctive look'. Who else could it be?" you joke.
  186.  
  187. "Oh, Mike, I, I didn't th-think it was you," she babbles, lurching against your chest. Tears well up in her eyes as she embraces you tightly enough to almost be constrictive to your breathing. You awkwardly hug her back, brushing the back of her head with your palm.
  188.  
  189. "Why wouldn't it be me?" you ask, confused.
  190.  
  191. "I'm on a clinical trial r-right now," Bonnibel moans softly into a mouthful of your shirt. "The new medicine helps, but, s-sometimes I see people that aren't there... m-mostly you."
  192.  
  193. "You halluci-- you're, uh, seeing ME? Why me?" As much as you've grown to like these guys, you only stayed with them a week. You can't remember the last time you even dreamt about someone. Hallucinating them? That's beyond your scope of comprehension entirely.
  194.  
  195. Bonnibel eventually releases her deathgrip on you, quivering as she looks up. "Was it really you that came to the door the other day?" she asks hesitantly as she tries to compose herself.
  196.  
  197. "Ah, thought I was a spook, huh? I was wondering why you didn't answer it. I was, uh, afraid you were mad at me too." You cast a wary eye in the direction of the vent.
  198.  
  199. "Not at all! I'm sorry, Mike," Bonnibel insists, squeezing your hands. "I'd been seeing some weird stuff all morning and didn't think it was really you."
  200.  
  201. You gently ruffle her headfur as she shakily takes a seat at the breakfast table. She begins thirstily chugging her prepared morning cocktail like a tiny, adorable lush, having eschewed the usual crazy straw in favor of getting it down quickly.
  202.  
  203. Trotting out of the kitchen, Freddy carries out a breakfast plate for Bonnibel. He apparently just now notices you, quickly laying the plate in front of her before turning to you.
  204.  
  205. You don't even manage to get the first syllable of his name out in greeting before he slaps you across your face. He doesn't strike you too hard despite his considerably large size and powerhouse arms, but it's more than enough to cause your face to sting. Even so, you aren't really hurt so much as just genuinely taken aback.
  206.  
  207. "Freddy!" Bonnibel cries. He ignores her, staring you down.
  208.  
  209. "Ceci est pour blessant Mangle," he says sharply, his normally passive expression replaced with a frown.
  210.  
  211. "Mangle?" you ask, pointing up to the vent, and he bobs his head. What does Mangle... oh, of course.
  212.  
  213. He's a gentleman defending Mangle's honor. You don't need to speak Freddlish to understand.
  214.  
  215. "I'll... I'll make it right," you stutter.
  216.  
  217. He doesn't respond.
  218.  
  219. "With Mangle?" you desperately clarify, pointing down the hallway. "I'll go talk to Mangle?"
  220.  
  221. He studies your face, as if to check your sincerity. Eventually deciding he's satisfied that you understand what needs doing, Freddy pulls you tightly to his chest in a bear hug, kissing both of your cheeks. After releasing you, his faint frown's since been replaced with a soft smile.
  222.  
  223. "Mais, accueillir à la maison."
  224.  
  225. Bonnibel and even April both stare in surprise. "I don't think I've ever seen Freddy that angry," Bonnibel breathes.
  226.  
  227. "No kidding," you agree numbly, scooting back a couple of steps.
  228.  
  229. First slapped, then kissed? He knows you're not THAT kind of guy, right? If you didn't know better, you'd say Freddy was an alien from another planet who's only learned about basic social interaction through television and movies.
  230.  
  231. As you smooth the creases in your shirt out, Freddy pantomimes eating.
  232.  
  233. "Uh... no, no thanks." You pat your belly to let him know you've already eaten. With a reluctant sigh, he folds his arms, seeming just a touch disappointed.
  234.  
  235. "So where's Chica this morning?" you ask, rubbing your face a little. Freddy looks queryingly at Bonnibel, who in turn points at the front door.
  236.  
  237. "Haven't you heard, Mike? She's dead," Bonnibel replies flippantly.
  238.  
  239. "S-she's what?" you ask, eyes wide as dinner plates.
  240.  
  241. "Dead tired," she continues, oblivious. "She's been running around a lot and staying up late helping with April."
  242.  
  243. You scratch the back of your head at her incredibly poor word choice, which she doesn't even seem to have noticed. Whatever they've got her on must be pretty strong. "Oh, all right. Um, do you mind if I hang out here for a while until she wakes up? I need to ask her something."
  244.  
  245. Bonnibel's brow furrows. "Why do you need to ask? It's your apartment too, Mike."
  246.  
  247. You start to politely refute her, then stop. It IS your apartment after all, and you did Chiclet a favor by leaving -- not the other way around.
  248.  
  249. So why do you feel so guilty asking to stay?
  250.  
  251. Yawning, you realize you're still a little drowsy. Maybe some caffeine'll perk you up. You head to the fridge and collect a soft drink from the drawer, downing most of the contents in a few gulps. Freddy's finished with his chores and has since retired to his chair, absorbed in a book. April's already drifted off and Bonnibel looks as if she's not far from doing the same, considering her meds seem to be taking effect. She usually ends up going back to sleep soon after breakfast anyway, if you remember right.
  252.  
  253. With nobody to talk to for the moment, you finish the last of your drink and chuck the can in the trash.
  254.  
  255. "Might as well get this over with," you mumble under your breath as you head down the hallway to Mangle's room.
  256.  
  257.  
  258.  
  259. After two false starts, you finally work up enough nerve to knock at the door. You hear thumping and clattering around for a few seconds before a sickeningly-sweet voice calls out to you.
  260.  
  261. "Come in," Mangle announces pleasantly.
  262.  
  263. "You sure? I'm not making that mistake again."
  264.  
  265. You're briefly rewarded with the satisfaction of an audible gasp as Mangle realizes it's you. The door opens a crack and you catch sight of a familiar white muzzle doused in runny lipstick and too much blush. It sniffs twice at you before Mangle opens the door fully.
  266.  
  267. "I wasn't... expecting you back so soon, Michael," Mangle stammers. "I haven't had time to neaten up or anything. Please, come in."
  268.  
  269. You step inside Mangle's bedroom-turned-studio, taking a seat at the computer's swivel chair. It is indeed a bit messier in here than you remember it being last time. Crafting materials such as sequins and buttons litter the floor like leftover confetti from a party, while bolts of fabric are splayed upon every available surface. Mangle alights on the edge of the bed, watching you apprehensively. You maintain careful eye contact, refusing to lower your gaze lest you be obligated to acknowledge the ridiculous hybrid blanket/bathrobe the fox has chosen to cover up with.
  270.  
  271. "What do you, ah, wish to speak to me about, darling? I'm quite busy with work as you can most surely see."
  272.  
  273. Several different approaches float through your mind -- everything from trying to save face by making light of what happened, to going on the defensive and acting like you're the victim and Mangle's the one who owes you the apology -- but you know in your heart there's only one option.
  274.  
  275. "I'm sorry," you plainly state.
  276.  
  277. Honest and to the point.
  278.  
  279. Mangle fumbles with one of the blanket's thick felt sleeves. "Oh, it's quite all right, you're not REALLY disturbing me. I've just been so absorbed in sewing and creating and trying to get orders out for the holiday rush."
  280.  
  281. You take one of Mangle's paws in your hand, shaking your head adamantly. "That's not what I meant," you interrupt, "and you know it. I'm sorry for what happened -- no, for what I did, to you, the other day."
  282.  
  283. "Freddy, dear, it's water under the bridge!" Mangle replies with forced joviality. "Why don't we just let bygones--"
  284.  
  285. You raise a single finger to Mangle's muzzle, making a shushing noise.
  286.  
  287. "Please don't make light of this. It's been eating at me for days, and I've got to get it off my chest," you insist, tone sharp and low. "Mangle, I'm sorry. I am VERY sorry. It was wrong of me to violate your personal space. It was an honest mistake and I didn't mean anything by it, but I'm sorry that I hurt you. I want you to know that I never intended to be a hypocrite and disrespect your privacy because I know how I'd have felt in your position."
  288.  
  289. You maintain a firm grip on the tender white paw in your hand, drawing a deep breath before you continue.
  290.  
  291. "When I heard you call out, I thought you were giving me permission to enter, and that's why I came in. I'd just wanted to see if you needed any more help with modeling your clothes." You lower your gaze, scrunching up your forehead as you try to find the right words to say.
  292.  
  293. "Mangle, I don't understand your, umm... well, I had no idea that you're, uh -- that you had this kind of issue. But while I've been away from the house, the tension between us has been driving me up the wall."
  294.  
  295. "Oh, sweetheart..." Mangle twists your hand a little, gripping it tightly with both paws. "I'm not going to let you beat yourself up over this. You're not my enemy."
  296.  
  297. "I don't see myself as your enemy," you affirm. "I just want to know that I'm still your friend."
  298.  
  299. "Of course we're friends! I can't BELIEVE you'd even allow such a ridiculous notion to seep into that pretty little head of yours!"
  300.  
  301. Without warning, you're enveloped in a tight hug, sleeved blanket and all. As you both warmly embrace each other, Mangle's furry tail swishes around the back of your head, tickling at the side of your neck. It's a surprising, but not entirely unwelcome sensation. You exhale slowly, sloughing off some of your pent-up anxiety as Mangle gently rubs at your back with dexterous paws.
  302.  
  303. "You know, I've ended up saying some really bad things to some really nice people, and I very much wish I could take those words back. I can't handle everyone being upset or mad at me. I don't -- I don't do well, y'know, with that kind of stress." Gently easing away, you look Mangle square in the eye. "I guess what I'm saying is, I need to know you forgive me, because I don't ever want to hurt any of you guys with my carelessness again."
  304.  
  305. Mangle returns to the edge of the bed, pondering your words for a moment. "Well, Mike -- I, ah, tried in my own way to make you feel comfortable and welcome when we met, but you gave me the distinctest impression that you wanted nothing to do with me."
  306.  
  307. "If I'm being honest, you're right -- I didn't. Now I'm wishing I'd given you more of a chance at first," you sigh. Mangle presses a finger to your own lips, mimicking your earlier action.
  308.  
  309. "Hush now, you. You've said your piece and now I'm going to say mine," Mangle reprimands in the tone a teacher might use to scold a spoiled child. You quietly nod, allowing the fox to speak. "I knew when you arrived here the first day that we'd been given the opportunity to meet someone truly special, but I wasn't sure what it was about you. Now, though, I believe I've figured it out."
  310.  
  311. A chill runs down your spine as anxiety begins to take hold of you. You brace yourself for impact as Mangle gently jabs your chest with an accusatory nail. This is it, here we go. Somebody's finally managed to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Someone's finally figured out why you don't belong, why you're so 'unusual', why you don't fit the mold that every other wild character in this town seems to have been cast from.
  312.  
  313. "What is it?" you cautiously ask, calculating your trajectory should you have to leap from Mangle's bedroom window.
  314.  
  315. "You're a virgin," the fox replies with a saucy smirk.
  316.  
  317. You let out a breath you didn't realize you were holding even as your cheeks flush red.
  318.  
  319. "I... what! No I'm not!" you snap, though inwardly you're relieved. "Why, I'll have you know I've had plenty of ladies throwing themselves at me just since I've been here."
  320.  
  321. "Oh, really," Mangle challenges. "Tell me of your conquests, o mighty man."
  322.  
  323. "So many conquests, where to begin? Girls can't resist this beefcake!" You flex your doughy muscles as Mangle raises a skeptical eyebrow.
  324.  
  325. "Well, don't keep me in the dark, now! Come on, dish -- name names!"
  326.  
  327. You boisterously cackle as you leap to your feet, hamming up every action movie poster pose you can think of as Mangle applauds the private show.
  328.  
  329. "Well of course Cheeky over in 93-B couldn't resist my wiles, and Ms. Mango downstairs put up a good fight but she too fell for me."
  330.  
  331. Mangle's chin is propped up on one arm. "Enthrall me, dear! Tell me how you wooed them both."
  332.  
  333. "Too many ladies, not enough time! Next was Chica, naturally," you swagger.
  334.  
  335. A thoroughly dubious cough. "Pssh. I'm certain I'd have been made aware of such."
  336.  
  337. You blow on your fingernails, buffing them on your shirt. "One of the finest of all was a lovely, saucy little number called Mangle."
  338.  
  339. Mangle's head snaps back, muzzle opened wide in hysterical laughter. "That would be unbelievably ambitious of you," the fox chortles.
  340.  
  341. "Hey, even the guys can't keep their hands off of me. I got two big smooches from Freddy when I came in," you announce, turning your face as if to display a scandalous hickey.
  342.  
  343. "Oh, Bonnie -- what happened?" Mangle asks suddenly, rubbing the side of your tender face from where Freddy popped you in the kitchen. "Why do you have a welt on the side of your handsome, rugged cheek?"
  344.  
  345. "I, uhh... well, when I came in, Freddy greeted me with a slap," you sheepishly reply. "Two kisses did follow immediately afterward, though, and that's the honest truth. I guess he wanted to, you know, settle the score for me besmirching your honor or something."
  346.  
  347. "R-really now? He did that for me?" Eyelashes flutter coyly as the fox processes this information. "Well -- the lovable brute did you a favor, dear."
  348.  
  349. "Oh? How so?"
  350.  
  351. "Close your eyes, and you'll find out," Mangle replies, rising from the bed. You sit back down and cautiously do as instructed. A pair of warm, wet lips press against the side of your cheek as Mangle gives you a heartfelt (albeit sloppy) kiss.
  352.  
  353. "To make it feel better, and also... you now have another tall tale to share," Mangle says with a wink and a toothy smile as you re-open your eyes.
  354.  
  355. Blushing furiously, you stand up, head spinning a little. "I take it all back. You're too hot for me to handle, Mangle."
  356.  
  357. "Don't you know it!" the fox snickers as you head for the door. "Oh, and Michael, darling?"
  358.  
  359. You pause, hand on the doorknob. "Yeah?"
  360.  
  361. "Of course I forgive you."
  362.  
  363.  
  364.  
  365. By the time you're back in the common area, Chiclet's finally up and around, albeit still in her pajamas. She waves at you while fumbling with the coffee pot, thick bags hanging under her normally bright and cheerful eyes.
  366.  
  367. "Hey, Mike. I was beginning to think you'd never drop by," she yawns.
  368.  
  369. "I was beginning to think you didn't want me to," you fire back. "But I'll let it slide because I know you've been super busy since you haven't had me around to keep you in line."
  370.  
  371. "Well aren't you just the most understanding little saint, Mike," she replies with a sleepy grin. "Want some coffee, Mr. Wonderful?"
  372.  
  373. "Absolutely. Black, but with plenty of sugar and cream, please."
  374.  
  375. "Hah! Fair enough, you goon." As Chiclet reaches into the cabinet for a coffee mug for you, she glances down at your face out of the corner of her eye. "...Mike, is that Mangle's lipstick on your cheek?"
  376.  
  377. You see your opportunity and you seize it instantly. "Why, worried I'd cheat on you?" you immediately return with a shit-eating smirk. She rolls her eyes, tossing a sugar packet at your head.
  378.  
  379. "Yeah, I'm really going without sleep worried about who you're smooching."
  380.  
  381. "Obviously. You can tell by those dark circles under your eyes."
  382.  
  383. "Oh my god," she groans.
  384.  
  385. "So, funny story for you. Freddy slapped me when I walked in earlier."
  386.  
  387. "That sounds reasonable of him," she interjects. "Can't say I haven't had the urge to do the same myself. Now that I know it's on the table, I might just indulge later."
  388.  
  389. "Ouch. I'll have you know that this lipstick is from where Mangle kissed it to make it better."
  390.  
  391. "How sweet! Glad to hear you two made up then...?" she ventures, searching the fridge for some coffee creamer.
  392.  
  393. "Yeah, I think we're good. I wish I could say the same with Bonworth and the others, though," you sigh.
  394.  
  395. Chiclet stops mid-pour on your coffee, suddenly all-business. "Mike, what happened?" she asks, voice quiet and measured as she sets the carafe aside.
  396.  
  397. You lean around the kitchen wall to peer at the living room, making sure nobody's listening in on your conversation. Bonnibel's already retreated to her room for her post-breakfast siesta, and Freddy's disappeared to take care of laundry, leaving a soundly-dozing April on the couch.
  398.  
  399. "I screwed up, plain and simple," you whisper. "I found out about something they wanted to keep buried and I just... I pushed the issue until we all kind of blew up at each other. And then I ended up hurting Cheeky's feelings with a stupid-assed comment..."
  400.  
  401. You lower your head in defeat as she leans against the counter.
  402.  
  403. "Oh, geez. What was your fight about?" she asks warily. You turn away, and she lets out a low whistle. "Oh man, Mike. That's..."
  404.  
  405. "I know. It's the same for you, isn't it?" you ask. She doesn't immediately reply. Covering her mouth with one slightly shaky wing tells you everything you need to know. "I'm sorry. I won't bring it up around here, I promise."
  406.  
  407. "Look, it's a really shitty place," she sighs, leaning on the counter. "There's a lot of us that never want to even think about it again, but those guys? Man, they've really got it the worst out of everybody in this entire complex."
  408.  
  409. "I don't doubt it. I was so ashamed that I just walked out without even saying goodbye. I ended up staying the night with Beanie and Mr. Fazbear."
  410.  
  411. "Aw, Mike, you could have come back home and told me what happened," Chiclet says. "I don't know most of the people around here too well -- I'm usually so busy that I rarely have time to visit anyone. If Bonworth's roommates are anything like he is, though, I can tell you that they're the type to forgive and forget."
  412.  
  413. "I, um -- to be honest, I've kind of been hoping you are as well, Chica. I got the impression that I'd offended you when you shoved me out the door after April came in."
  414.  
  415. "What? Why?"
  416.  
  417. "Well, I tried to swing by to see if I could spend some time here, maybe pitch in and help. You were in such a hurry the other day, and then Bonnie didn't answer the door..."
  418.  
  419. "No, of course I'm not pissed off at you or anything like that, and if I'd known you'd go through this much of an ordeal I'd have just let you stay in the first place," she says, shaking her head adamantly. "Look, April's here because of a personal favor Marion called in, and I wanted you to have your own bed because you're the new guy and didn't deserve to be put out in the living room after just having gotten here. That's all there is to it, I promise."
  420.  
  421. "I'm glad that's it, then," you reply.
  422.  
  423. "If I upset you, Mike, you'd better believe I apologize. I told you before about my policy on how we do things in my house -- nobody ever goes to bed angry here. For the record, I never meant to blow you off." She glances at the living room, lowering her voice to a whisper as she resumes filling both mugs full of coffee. "April's just a high maintenance kind of gal. I've been burning the candle at both ends trying to take care of her and Bonnie and still keep everything else here running."
  424.  
  425. "I got a really good taste of that with Bonworth's place," you reply. "Faz is a lot the same way -- he requires constant care and attention. Still, it means a lot to know that I'm still welcome here."
  426.  
  427. "You're ALWAYS welcome in my home, Mike," she brashly insists. "And don't you ever feel otherwise, you understand?"
  428.  
  429. "Yes ma'am." You throw your arms wide. "Can I get a hug then?"
  430.  
  431. "Seriously?" Chiclet playfully chides as she hands you your coffee. "A hug? What are you, six? You want a lollipop too?"
  432.  
  433. You feign frustration. "Are you for real? We've got lollipops here and you didn't tell me? Hell yeah I want one!"
  434.  
  435. "Okay, okay. So where are we gonna put you tonight? April's got Freddy's room, so if you want you can stay with me in mine as long as you don't mind sleeping on the floor."
  436.  
  437. "Actually... I was thinking I might go back over to Mr. Fazbear's and ask if I can stay a few more nights -- just until April's comfortably settled somewhere," you reply.
  438.  
  439. "I don't mind if you stay here. I'd give up my bed, but..."
  440.  
  441. You laugh. "No, Chica, it's cool. I -- you know, coming back today was really good for me and I do still want to live here. But right now, I, uh..." You shrug, smiling apologetically. "I don't think I deserve to be here just yet."
  442.  
  443. She stirs her mug with a raised eyebrow. "What do you mean, you don't 'deserve' to live here?"
  444.  
  445. "I need to straighten some things out in my head right now. I love this apartment and all of you guys -- Freddy's cooking, shopping with you and Bonnie, pajama night and bad movies. Mangle giving the best damn shave I've ever had in my life. It's great, and I want to be a part, Chica... but I need to go put some things right that went wrong before I can come back home."
  446.  
  447. "Well, I really can't say I understand," Chiclet answers, raising her mug in something of a toast, "but I'll keep your seat warm just the same until you do come back home."
  448.  
  449. You clink your mug against hers with a resolute nod.
  450.  
  451. "I appreciate it, Chica."
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