Roommates - Ch. 35 (Pattern Recognition)

Aug 6th, 2016
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  1. Roommates has moved! You can now read it at Archive of Our Own:
  3. Roommates - Ch. 35 (Pattern Recognition):
  4. Inspired by Weaver's Five Nights at Freddy's Apartment AU:
  5. Part of an ongoing series written for the /5N@F/ General Discussion Thread at /vg/.
  6. Sincerest thanks to Weaver ( 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 ( for proofreading and editing this chapter.
  8. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at
  10. ---
  12. You're not even three full episodes into "Legend of Bob" yet and you've already begun to observe multiple patterns forming.
  14. The first thing you've noticed is that almost every single line of dialogue out of each human character's mouth is some kind of banal, human-centric slang. The show's writers seem compelled to pummel into the viewers' minds that these characters are humans with bizarre turns of phrase like "everyhuman" instead of just "everyone", and "on the other human hand" instead of simply using "on the other hand". While you're not really surprised that a culture of exclusively animal people have no idea of what humans are actually like, it does make the cartoon unwieldy and jarring. Even the Smurfs' lingo sounds more natural and less forced by comparison.
  16. As far as the show itself goes, the main character "Bob Legendmann" is a typically boisterous, over-the-top action hero -- but a curiously pacifistic one. Bob prefers to talk his way out of every situation he gets into, only resorting to violence if he's exhausted all other possibilities. A running gag is that a fair number of his dilemmas tend to be self-inflicted, usually after he's run his mouth off -- or in at least one case, after his sidekick's gotten him into trouble. (You're also starting to see why Bonbon utterly despises the "Balloon Boy" character -- if anything, she might have understated how useless he really is.)
  18. The most interesting part of all, however, is Bob's constant, unwavering drive to be the champion of every miserable, downtrodden character-of-the-week he comes across. While he seems decidedly cognizant of the fact that he's the designated hero of his own story (even going so far as to lean on the fourth wall from time to time to establish to the audience that he knows he's a cartoon character), he's deeply empathetic and a borderline obsessive "fixer". Bob Legendmann's simply not happy until he's rescued every poor unfortunate from their circumstances, even if it comes at great personal cost to himself.
  20. The fact Legend of Bob is formulaic and predictable doesn't come as too much of a surprise -- for starters, it is just a cartoon, and it is marketed predominately towards children regardless of how Bonbon wants to spin it. So of course it's going to be formulaic; you expected as much going into it.
  22. What you DIDN'T expect was just how much you'd actually enjoy watching it. For whatever insane reason, you're actually having fun sitting on the couch with your mostly-new friends, watching a cartoon about a fictionalized version of humans in a language you can't even begin to understand. Fortunately, the subtitles make it easy enough to follow along while offering commentary.
  24. "Hah! Oh, god, they really DO eat their fries with barbeque sauce," you chuckle as the credits begin to roll. "I can't believe you were serious about that."
  26. "Are you for real, Mike?" Bonbon asks as she and Mango help themselves to gobs of the buttered popcorn out of the bowl in your lap. "That's standard in like, every humie cartoon."
  28. "I thought you said this wasn't a cartoon," you jab back, glancing at Mango as she licks butter off of her paws and muzzle.
  30. Bonbon groans. "Ugh! I mean, like, okay -- so it's animated. It's an animated show and I GUESS that TECHNICALLY makes it a cartoon, but it's not like the kiddie cartoons we make, you know? OUR cartoons are way worse than this! They're full of stupid gross-out humor only little kids are gonna laugh at, and they rely way too much on sight gags, and--"
  32. "The stupid sidekick character literally dropped his pants and farted into a balloon in that last episode so that they could escape from the crazy scientist's lair," you interrupt. "That's -- that's pretty much the definition of gross-out humor kids love. Hell, they even showed his butt."
  34. "But that's a CULTURAL thing!" she whines, tugging at her ears out of frustration. "That doesn't count, that's just THEIR sense of humor! Besides, the censor-happy suits cut it from the dub anyway!"
  36. Mango rolls her eyes as she raises her glass of water to her muzzle.
  38. "Face it -- Mike's right, Bonnie. Flatulence is flatulence regardless of your culture, and I'd argue that a toot joke is about as uncultured as it gets," she says before dipping her tongue into her glass and lapping away at the contents within. You bite your tongue; she's one to talk considering how much time she spent measuring your glutes.
  40. "Don't get me wrong, Bonbon," you quickly add, noticing the blue rabbit's building consternation. "I'm still enjoying it, even if it is kinda -- uh, out there."
  42. "Good! It gets way WAY better as the series goes on."
  44. You ease back, scratching your leg idly as Peanut dozes next to you. The four of you are heaped up together on the living room couch in a borderline intimate pile. Peanut's snoozing to your left while Bonbon cozies up noticeably close to you, with Mango stretched out over the top of the couch underneath a blanket. Every so often the craftsy vixen will lean down and scoop up popcorn with a flick of her tail in an impressive display of dexterity.
  46. Ordinarily, you'd be nervous and extremely restless in an unfamiliar apartment (and you're pretty much an expert on unfamiliar apartments after moving in and out of three of them in less than a month), but now that you've had a little while to unwind, somehow you're not particularly uneasy here. Even after having been given a thoroughly exhaustive measuring by Mango while Bonbon playfully ogled you, and even as awkward and irresponsible as just about everyone in this room is, you can't help but feel comfortable around them. Maybe it helps that you're already familiar with Peanut and Bonbon. Maybe you see some of your previous roommates in them.
  48. Or maybe it's just because they're nice folks. But then, has anyone here NOT been nice to you? You can't think of even one truly malevolent or disingenuous person you've met the entire time you've been at this apartment complex. Mangle rubbed you raw at first but then quickly grew on you, and even as seemingly hostile as Fred and Rackham were at times, they still gave you a chance. Besides, you don't get the feeling that Fred having you leave was intended to be any kind of slight against you as a person.
  50. Speaking of the inhabitants of 93-A, you make a mental note to stop by in a couple of days, even if it's just to clear the air between you and everyone there. Beanie looked like she was in a bad way when you were dragged off kicking and screaming, and if nothing else you should check up on her and Fred.
  52. "Ready for episode four?" Bonbon cheers, interrupting your thoughts with a loud clap. You take a deep breath and shift on the couch a little to ease your achy chest before nodding.
  54. "Sure."
  58. Over four hours of Legend of Bob later (with intermittent bathroom breaks and an extremely brief visit from Dr. Rabbinson to drop off your painkillers), you've almost finished binge watching the first season. Despite Bonbon's insistence to "see the job through just like Bob would", you argue that you'd like to save the last few episodes for a later viewing. It's not that you aren't enjoying the extended screening, but your torso pain has become exacerbated enough from sitting still for hours. You're ready for some dinner so that you can take your meds.
  60. Having considered the perishable contents of the refrigerator to be almost a complete write-off (save for a few stalks of celery and a green pepper that hadn't yet given way to mold), you resorted to sifting through the cabinets to help fix dinner while Bonbon ran to the corner store for a few things to help supplement. It's not a Michelin star feast, but fish baked in the oven and cold macaroni salad will fill everyone up until you've had time to properly clean and stock the kitchen.
  62. Peanut plops down at the table with a gaping yawn, having been forcibly woken from his slumber by Bonbon so that he wouldn't miss out on dinner. Goose is still nowhere to be seen, leaving Mango the last to arrive as she shuffles over to claim the table's remaining fourth seat.
  64. "So Mike! What do you thiiiink?" Bonbon grins in a sing-song tone as she sets a plate of macaroni salad down in front of you. You shrug and dip your fork into it to take a bite.
  66. "Not half bad," you reply. "I probably should have been a little more generous with the vinegar, but at least it's edible."
  68. "Silly. That's not what I'm talking about," she says teasingly, leaning into you. You pause mid-chew -- both she and Mango are staring at you very expectantly with equally wide-eyed expressions.
  70. You look over your shoulder at the TV with a raised eyebrow. "What, about Bob?"
  72. "Noooooo," Bonbon coaxes with a sweeping wave of her paw as she leans over the table. "Something even MORE cool and awesome?"
  74. "Okay, now you're scaring me," you chuckle nervously. "Also, lean back -- you're getting mayo all over yourself."
  76. She looks down at her shirt with a frown, realizing she's wearing most of her dinner. "Shoot. Anyway, I'm talking about the apartment, you dingus. What do you think of the place?"
  78. "Uh, well, I think you guys could benefit from a trip to the laundromat," you joke as she dabs awkwardly at her "Fun Fun Race for the Cure '07" shirt.
  80. Dropping her napkin on the carpet, she leans back in her chair with a relieved sigh and a huge smile. "No need! We've got a washer and dryer here. Man, I'm glad you said something. I didn't wanna ask, but since you're volunteering and all..."
  82. Mango's eyes light up. "Oooh! Do mine too, Mike! I'm just about out of clean clothes for the week and my best blouse has SO many stains on it. Boys will be boys," she grins.
  84. "Gosh, thanks," Peanut adds between a mouthful of fish. "Um, my suits require real TLC to get clean, you know? If you could get some of the mustard stains out of the collar of my jacket that'd be great too."
  86. "Um, okay," you reply with a frown. Volunteering? More like voluntold. Hell, if they're that comfortable with you going through their stuff... "But, yeah, Bonbon, it's real nice and cozy here. Thank you for having me, guys."
  88. "Aww, we're just glad to, y'know, help out however we can," Peanut chimes in as he continues attacking his plate. Of course he's glad -- they're practically getting a brand new live-in maid.
  90. "Likewise. I heard about what happened last night -- well, bits and pieces anyway from Foxglove," Mango adds, slicing away at her fish with her knife and fork while filling her glass with juice. "Even though I never do know quite what to believe there..."
  92. You fork into your own fish. "Hear tell, you two have some kind of personal blood feud going on," you ask with a smile. "What's up with you and Mangle anyway?"
  94. Huh. Mangle. Not Foxglove -- still Mangle. You smile inwardly; at least that's one small piece of your own personal puzzle down.
  96. "Okay, blood feud might be a teensy bit overdramatic," Mango admits with a wag of her bushy tail. "Then again, Foxglove is overdramatic, so it... fits."
  98. "Believe me, I know," you smirk. "Some kind of professional thing?"
  100. "More like 'unprofessional'," Bonbon mutters, rolling her eyes. Even Peanut seems amused as the three of you turn your attention to the flustered shortstack of a vixen.
  102. "Conflict of interests. There was a trade show a few years back," Mango replies, blushing as she sets her juice glass down. "I've lost count of the details, but let's just say that both of us had, hmmmm, similar ideas and it didn't go so well. There were some... accusations."
  104. "Oooh boy," you grimace. "Who, uh, who was at fault?"
  106. "Foxglove," Mango replies automatically, dragging her knife across her plate with a loud screech. "Absolutely Foxglove."
  108. You grin, knowing full well what the answer would be if you were to ask Mangle the same question. Now you're starting to get somewhere.
  110. "So, how about a more pleasant topic of discussion?" she asks abruptly. "Freddy, I can't help but notice you were here for most of the day. Did you call into work?"
  112. Peanut's sleepy, contented smile is immediately replaced with a look of panic. "Huh oh. I -- oh, no! I'm supposed to be on closing shift today! Oh man, the boss is gonna kill me...!"
  114. So much for a "more pleasant topic". The poor slob looks like he's about to pass a kidney stone, his cheeks are so red.
  116. "That's the third time this month, Freddy!" Mango gasps as Peanut stumbles out of his chair towards the couch, digging underneath piles of clothes for his tattered suit.
  118. "Oh, geez! I know, Mangle, I'm just -- oh, this is just nuts!" he moans, tugging his slacks on. "It's this darned torpor -- it's gonna get me fired! Where are my dress socks?!"
  120. Honestly, worse things could happen to someone than getting sacked from Jeremy Human's. Like winning a million dollars, for instance. That'd be horrible by comparison.
  122. "Torpor?" you ask, scratching your head.
  124. "It's when an animal slows down during the winter," Mango quickly recites as she pushes her chair away from the table. Ah, so that's what Bonbon meant by him not doing the "full cryogenic thing".
  126. "Dammit, Peanut! You've gotta be to work in twenty minutes, there's no WAY you'll make it downtown in time!" Bonbon shrieks as she sprints around the table in a panic, tossing underwear and tee shirts left and right trying to find his socks. A sequin bra flutters down, landing on top of your head with a soft pomf. Your appetite sufficiently diminished, you gently pluck it by its strap and lower it to the floor, doing your best to maintain a straight face as these three yahoos flail and run in circles.
  128. "Socks!" Bonbon announces, waving silky pink fabric around in the air. "I found some -- no, wait, these are Chica's socks! Err, why does she have socks, anyway?"
  130. "Who knows?!" Peanut cries. "Ughh! This is a disaster!"
  132. Yes it is, but not for the reason he's thinking of. While Mango scurries underneath the table, you stand up and limp over to the kitchen counter, pulling the telephone off of the handset. A memo pad by the phone has a list of important telephone numbers written down in what you're sure is Chiclet's handwriting (wingwriting?); you recognize it from her photo collection. After finding the number you want, you cradle the phone in your neck so that you have both hands free to twist the cap off of your medicine.
  134. "Fazbear."
  136. You nearly choke swallowing your pills dry, not having expected him to answer before the first ring.
  138. "Hey, Fred. It's Mike," you manage, watching as Bonbon and Peanut furiously swim around in the craft supplies Mango dumped all over the living room floor.
  140. There's an awkward pause followed by the swift intake of air on the other end of the line. "Mike. Hi."
  142. A muffled scream draws your attention -- somehow, Peanut's gotten himself stuck underneath the couch. Bonbon dashes down the hallway to the bathroom before coming back with a tub of petroleum jelly.
  144. "What was that noise?" Fred asks warily.
  146. "Um, nothing. Hey, listen -- you're the manager over at Jeremy's, right?"
  148. "That's right," he smoothly replies, though you can still sense some strain in his voice. "Regional manager. I oversee all of the stores in the state."
  150. Stores, plural. More of them. You remember Cheeky and Bonworth mentioning something another location, but the thought of a legion of Jeremy Human droids marching down the streets of major cities...
  152. "Th-then you have some pull, I'd imagine," you croak, forcing the horrifying mental image out of your mind. "Uh, look -- Peanut overslept and he's gonna miss his shift tonight because of the, uh, -- torpor? Is that right?" Well, torpor sounds like a better excuse than "he can't find his argyle socks", anyway.
  154. "Yeah. Bears don't hibernate, but that one makes a good argument otherwise. It'd help if he'd switch from chamomile to coffee like I keep telling him." You hear the phone rustling against his fur as he shifts it around. "I'll call the shift manager and let them know he's running late. He's ONLY running late, right?"
  156. "Yeah. He's on his way now. Thanks, Fred," you reply, lowering the handset to the base.
  158. "Oh, and Mike?"
  160. You yank it back to your ear. "Yes?"
  162. "I've... got something I'd like to show you. Let's have lunch out tomorrow. My treat."
  164. "Seriously? After last--" you begin to reply, but before you can finish your ear's filled with a throaty growl on the other end of the line; it's a low, weighty rumble like the idling sound of a motorcycle engine. "I-- I mean, absolutely. Yes sir. I'd love to. Tomorrow's fantastic, m-my schedule's clear."
  166. "Perfect. I'll pick you up at eleven."
  168. Exhaling heavily, you hang up and turn to the living room where a dejected Peanut is looking at the floor with a defeated expression, a pair of threadbare dress socks hanging pathetically from one paw. Bonbon and Mango have collapsed on the couch, wheezing; all three of them look decidedly frazzled.
  170. Slumping onto his rear, Peanut buries his head in his hands as he begins to rock back and forth. "I'm never gonna make it in time for my shift! Maaaaan, I'm so fired...!"
  172. "Maybe not. I just got off the phone with Fred, and he's calling the manager now. I think you'll be alright; just get yourself put together and get down there."
  174. Perking up, he looks at you. "Oh man, Mike," he gasps, clearly ecstatic. "I can't -- gosh, I can't thank you enough!"
  176. "Wow, Mike," Bonbon adds sympathetically. "That had to be uncomfortable for you."
  178. "It's fine," you reply with a tired smile. "I needed to talk to him sooner or later anyway. You'd better get going, though."
  180. Peanut nods, hastily throwing the rest of his clothes on and running for the door. "I'll be back later tonight, guys! See you!" he says, holding his floppy hat to his head as he barrels out the front entrance.
  182. "Well, crisis averted. With that, I'm going to head to my room and lay down for a little while," Mango yawns, stepping over the disaster area she created without a second look. "I'm exhausted."
  184. "I've gotta run too, Mike," Bonbon quickly adds, dashing around Mango. "I'm supposed to be online for very important chat. If you can take care of the dishes that'd be great; I'll be back as soon as our RP-- uh, as soon as our meeting is finished, okay? Might be a few hours though so don't worry about me!"
  186. You give both of them a withering look as they cheerfully frolic towards their separate bedrooms without a care in the world.
  188. It looks like Legend of Bob isn't the only formulaic thing going on in this household.
  192. It's well after dark by the time you've finished clearing off the dinner table, gathering and sorting the laundry, and packing all of Mango's craft supplies in their proper containers -- and you still haven't even started on the nightmare refrigerator from hell yet. One of Mango's packages of glitter broke open as you were returning it to the cart, spraying the repulsive plastic pixie dust all over the living room carpet. It took you an hour and a half just to vacuum it up and you're still not sure you got all of it.
  194. Currently, you're in the laundry room in the back of the apartment. You're halfway through your third comic book and your fifth load of laundry. Although you're certain it's just an illusion, the piles of clothes seem to be getting bigger rather than smaller no matter how many loads you wash and dry.
  196. It's easy enough to sort everything out for washing (you're no expert but you know enough about laundry to know not to throw white shirts in with denims) but sorting them once they've come out of the wash proves a much bigger challenge. While most of the clothes are fairly obvious to identify the owner of -- the oversized masculine shirts and dress slacks are clearly Peanut's, and you're positive the exercise duds can only belong to Bonbon -- others are harder to decipher. For instance, the babydoll cut tee shirts with girly sayings and patterns could belong to any of the girls, and you've lost count of how much underwear you've folded in styles ranging from too cutesy to too racy.
  198. Well, whatever. They can sort them out themselves -- you want to be a good houseguest during your stay, but you can't help but feel like you're running a daycare right now. With a grunt, you finish filling the next laundry basket with folded clothes before heading back out to the common area to grab something to drink.
  200. When you went into the laundry room it was only early evening, but now that it's late at night and most of the lights are out in the household, you can't see shit as you stumble down the hall. Thus, you're legitimately alarmed when you hear rustling noises coming from the kitchen. Your heart begins to race as you grope around in the dark for a light switch or a flashlight or something. Shades of your nightmares and hallucinations come back to torment you -- visions of being haunted by terrifying robotic versions of your friends as you flee for safety in pitch-black family restaura-- oh thank god, you've found the kitchen light switch.
  202. Clicking it on, you squint as your eyes adjust. You're bracing yourself for a fight in case a burglar has snuck in.
  204. ...huh. Well, if this person's a burglar, she's not a very observant one.
  206. A hen with feathers the color of ripe apricots stands in the center of the kitchen with her back to you, rummaging through the cupboards obliviously. She's a touch on the short side -- probably at or around Chichi's height, but certainly nowhere near Chiclet's considerable stature. You blush as you realize all she's wearing is a white cutoff tee with a confetti-print pattern and a pair of fuchsia rhumba panties covered in flashy sequins.
  208. Guess that answers one of the questions that's been rattling around in the back of your head.
  210. Based on the way she's perhaps unconsciously wiggling her tailfeathers, the chicken seems to have found something that interests her. Pulling a box of dishwasher soap out of the cupboard, she opens it and takes a hesitant sniff before coughing and returning it to the shelf. Reluctantly, she closes the door with a frustrated sigh before standing up.
  212. "Hi, Goose," you offer with a smile, feeling more than a little silly for having let yourself get so panicked. "You hungry?"
  214. Whirling, Goose looks around to see who's snuck up on her before locking onto you. She cautiously moves forward, studying your face with intent.
  216. "Sorry, that was pretty mean," you chuckle self-admonishingly, raising your hands. "We haven't met yet. I'm Mike, I'll be--mmmprrhh!"
  218. Your face is suddenly filled with feathers as she wraps you in an embrace, feeling you up with her wingtips as if she's dusting a piece of furniture.
  220. "...mmm, nice to meet you, Mike," she replies. In stark contrast to Chiclet's loud, frank demeanor, Goose is quiet and breathy -- her voice as soft as the feathers she's fondling your head with. You're frozen in a mixture of alarm and discomfort as she systematically works her wings from your head to your waist.
  222. "H-he, hel-hello," you stutter like a loon, your cheeks beet red. Just when you start to see them as normal people they always manage to do something to surprise you. Are all chickens like this?
  224. Stepping back, Goose quietly shuffles over to the kitchen table, carefully pulling a chair away and falling into it. "Yeah, I am hungry," she says. "Is there anything leftover from dinner? I was looking for cereal, but I couldn't find any."
  226. Cereal? The hell did she want with dish detergent then?
  228. "I've got some, um, some macaroni salad. Is that alright, or do you want some--"
  230. "Man, that's perfect," Goose replies easily, slumping against the table with a yawn. "I'd eat a shoe right now. I'm starving."
  232. "One macaroni-and-shoe salad coming up," you joke. She chuckles quietly; apparently she's not really the expressive type. Your initial impression is that she's almost like a more outgoing, touchy-feely chicken version of Beanie.
  234. "I'm so screwed up on my sleep schedule right now. What time is it, Mike?"
  236. You check the clock in the kitchen. "About a quarter till ten. Uh, is soda okay or do you want water?"
  238. "Whatever," she says amiably. "I'm easy to please."
  240. Shrugging, you plug your nose as you open the fridge to pluck a cola from the soda drawer -- the last refuge of consumable goods not yet overrun by slime. "I'll... keep that in mind."
  242. As you scoop the leftover macaroni salad onto a plate for her, you take a few moments to study Goose. In a sense, she really is a smaller version of Chiclet -- if you described her to someone as a beaked Chiclet having been shrunk down to just slightly shorter than yourself, your description wouldn't be too far off the mark. Her face is ever so slightly rounder, her feathers are a little lighter, and she's a little thicker in the middle compared to Chiclet's hourglass figure -- but otherwise, they could be sisters.
  244. Apart from, you know, the whole lethargic sloth-like behavior versus Chiclet's high energy.
  246. "So, Goose, I'll be staying with you guys for a few days. I hope that's alright?"
  248. "More the merrier," she replies, lolling out on the table. "I've heard a lot about the new guy that just moved in overhead, but I still don't know much about you. You're a human, right?"
  250. The blood in your veins freezes for several seconds before she breaks out into a laughing fit.
  252. "Sorry. That was pretty mean," she deliberately echoes, pulling herself into a sitting position. "Chichi told me you might be a little sensitive about your fur thing, but Bonnie's spent so much time talking it up. She really digs your look, man. I mean... really digs it."
  254. "I can tell," you laugh nervously. "She sure is into the whole 'humie' thing, right?"
  256. "Oh, I wonder if all of us weren't at some point or another. Couldn't pull shift after shift at the big J's without at least a passing curiosity in 'em. Still, uh -- no offense," she remarks, waving a wing in your direction.
  258. You set the soda can and plate down in front of her, taking a seat next to her at the table. "None taken. Besides, what if I told you I WAS a human?"
  260. "What, like you told Bonnie when the two of you first met?" she snickers, playfully chewing on one of her feathertips. You slap your forehead, groaning -- you DID cop to that, didn't you. Damn good thing Bonbon didn't take you seriously at the time. "Yeah, Mike. She talked about that little gem for hours, but I'd like to think she's juuuust rooted enough in reality to know you were joking."
  262. You weren't.
  264. Chuckling, you busy yourself with folding napkins while she stares at the ceiling. "She's only BARELY rooted though, right?"
  266. "Hah! Yeah," Goose agrees. "That girl's got her head in the clouds. Honestly, I wouldn't care one way or the other. If you WERE a human, I mean. I think it'd be kinda cool to have a mythical beast for a roommate."
  268. Mythical beast, huh. Good to know you're officially regarded to be in the same tier as phoenixes and centaurs. Hell, for all you know THOSE are real here.
  270. A small rumbling noise interrupts the flow of conversation, and you realize it's her stomach growling. "Oh, did I mention I haven't eaten in like, two days?" she says with a nervous smile.
  272. "Oh, I'm sorry. Don't let me stop you, Goose," you reply, gesturing to her plate. She sits up straight, leaning back against her chair as she extends her wings straight forward. You watch with curiosity as she retains the pose for several seconds before realization hits you like a ton of bricks.
  274. Standing in the middle of the kitchen in the dark. Confusing a detergent box for cereal. Feeling you with her wings. Ignoring the food after mentioning she was practically starving.
  276. Of course.
  278. Without missing a beat, you carefully take one of her wings in your hand and press the soda can against it. She takes it from you, feeling the tab until she's satisfied it's facing the right way before opening it with a grateful nod. Holding it as far away from her face as possible, she cautiously tugs at the tab to release pressure on the can so that she doesn't get sprayed in case of carbonation buildup.
  280. After she takes a sip and shakily returns it to the table, you slide her fork into her wingtips, then gently turn her wing so that the tines of the fork skewer a good chunk of her salad.
  282. "Thanks," Goose says quietly as she slowly raises her fork to her beak. "Oh, and, um... sorry for the trouble."
  284. Looking around the room that you've spent almost the entire day rigorously cleaning multiple times, you take a deep breath before patting her shoulder. She smiles in your direction, and you smile back out of reflex even if she can't see it. She'll hear it in your voice, and that's enough.
  286. "No trouble at all," you reply, and you mean it.
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