Roommates - Ch. 16 (Captain on Deck)

Dec 30th, 2015
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  1. Roommates has moved! You can now read it at Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/works/11250126/navigate
  3. Roommates - Ch. 16 (Captain on Deck): http://i.imgur.com/aGts3q1.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/
  9. ---
  11. After your conversation with Cheeky, you weren't able to fall asleep until almost two AM, and yet somehow, you're still up at six on the dot. Looks like Foxy's still asleep in the closet this morning, so you gingerly shuffle out of bed and make your way into the hall bathroom as quietly as you can manage. You're still a little groggy, but you see no reason to not get an early start.
  13. Once you've finished with your shower and morning routine, you make your way out to the common area where a brighter-than-usual Bonworth is the only one awake.
  15. "Top of the morning to you, Mike!" he whoops from his easy chair, setting the newspaper aside to pull himself to a stand. "Sheesh, pal -- you look whipped. Up burnin' the midnight oil, eh?"
  17. "Hey, I live with a real pirate now. We've gotta keep that moonshine operation running," you snort, pouring yourself a glass of cold water from the tap.
  19. "Moonshine? That's serious business in these here prohibition times!"
  21. "You think I'm kidding, but he gave me the hookup on grog -- real grog, cherry fizz and all." You raise an eyebrow. "I'm talking top-shelf hooch here."
  23. The two of you share a chuckle as he folds his newspaper up, limping into the kitchen.
  25. "I just wanted to thank you again for taking care of everything last night," Bonworth says, leaning against the kitchen counter for support. "I hate to admit it, but I sure needed the extra winks."
  27. "I should be the one thanking you, after last night." You awkwardly tap the side of your glass, grasping for something else to say. "I'm so sorry about what happened out there."
  29. He covers his mouth with a theatrical gasp that even Mangle would be proud of.
  31. "Whiskers, Mike! I don't even want you thinkin' about it. I'm just glad that whatever nastiness was between us has been sent packing."
  33. "Yeah, no -- we're good. I promise."
  35. "Good, I'm gonna hold you to that now." Bonworth spreads his arms wide. "Bring it in, buddy."
  37. You roll your eyes at his corniness, but awkwardly embrace him anyway. With all the metal in his arms it almost feels like getting a hug from a trash compactor -- though you're surprised to find that you don't really mind it.
  39. "Now, are we done with that line of discussion forever?" he asks.
  41. "Yep," you affirm.
  43. "Good! We can't be worried about that nonsense when there's big doings today." He claps his paws excitedly, leaning in toward you with a chipper grin and arched eyebrows. "Ol' Marion's offered me some part-time clerical work helping down at the front desk!"
  45. "A part-time job?"
  47. "He's puttin' me on a trial run for the next couple of days, and even then only for the afternoons. If it works out, then maybe somethin' more will come of it, but for now, he's agreed to knock a few greenbacks off the rent for the month if I help him out."
  49. "Sounds like a sweet gig," you reply, more than a little jealous. Work sounds amazing right now with most of the month left to go before your next infusion of cash. "So clerical work -- what does he have you doing? Helping with paperwork, desk stuff?"
  51. "That's the long and the short of it, yep," Bonworth answers as he opens the refrigerator door. "We don't even need the money so it's really just as a favor to him."
  53. You struggle to avoid whimpering aloud. "That's, uh -- really big of you," you cough.
  55. "Aw, shucks. It's no skin off my teeth." He blushes a little, making a show of deciding which bottle of carrot juice he's going to select. "You can do anything you put your ear to, I always say!"
  57. "Well, if you're going to be busy over the next few days, what can I do to help out around the house?"
  59. "Aw, Mike, you don't have to do anything," he replies almost automatically. "We'll have it all taken care of. Why, you just kick your feet up and relax!"
  61. The very thought of being a freeloader repulses you. Back at Chica's, you made it a point to pay for room and board plus extra (and even then she still hustled you out the door -- not that you're bitter or anything). Out of the goodness of his heart, Bonworth's letting you stay here and eat his food for free, all to help out a neighbor.
  63. "Yeah, no. That's not happening." You fold your arms defiantly. "You'll be at work and I'm not going to shunt everything off on Cheeky. I'm not that kind of guy, Bonworth."
  65. He struggles with the cap on his juice bottle, purposefully dodging the topic. "These darn childproof caps," he jokes weakly. "Don't know why they'd want to keep kids from drinkin' carrot juice. Good for your eyes, you know?"
  67. You gently ease the bottle out of his paws and deftly twist it open, pouring the contents into his glass.
  69. "Let me pull my own weight, Bonworth," you insist. "If you need me to help take care of Faz and Foxy, just tell me what their routines involve and I'll see to it that it gets handled."
  71. "Faz is kind of... he's not really the sort of fella that, uh--"
  73. "No, I get it, he's a handful, but I've got recent experience at dealing with handfuls. You should see Bonnie when she's in one of her moods."
  75. He looks at you dubiously. "Mike, he's on a different level entirely from what you're used to," he says, voice low.
  77. "I still want to help. And with Cheeky the way she -- y'know, with her whole situation, I just don't want to put any undue strain on her."
  79. Bonworth sips at his juice wordlessly for a while. You lean against the counter, maintaining eye contact.
  81. "All right," he finally relents after a minute or so of awkward silence.
  83. You blink. "Really?"
  85. "I mean, I suppose we've put it off for long enough." He grimly places his glass in the sink. "There's probably a lot I should warn you about before going in, but, uh -- I think you should meet Faz and see things for yourself first."
  87. A strange feeling in the pit of your stomach begins to take form, and you suddenly wonder if you've bitten off more than you can chew. You shove the doubt out of your mind and steel your nerves, nodding once.
  89. "I'm ready."
  91. Placing a paw on your shoulder, he gives you a pained smile.
  93. "No you ain't."
  97. As you open the door, the first thing that hits you is the nearly overpowering stench, causing you to gag involuntarily. The strong, unmistakable odors of alcohol and ammonia permeate the air along with something far more rancid. Your eyes begin to water. The garbage you cleaned out of the refrigerator yesterday would be an upgrade compared to whatever's going on in here.
  99. "Powerful, isn't it," Bonworth whispers.
  101. "What's wrong with him?" you choke.
  103. "Everything."
  105. It's too dark to see much, and the temperature is at least five degrees colder than anywhere else in the apartment. From what you can make out, the room is devoid of any decoration or color whatsoever. Its sole furnishings are a nightstand, a wall-mounted television, and an electric adjustable bed not unlike one you'd find in a modern hospital. In the place of a dresser is a laundry basket on the floor, packed full of clothes folded in neat stacks. Atop the nightstand is a small desk fan to provide air circulation, but it's clearly not quite up to the task. As for the bed itself, you can at least tell it's occupied, but you can't quite discern any real details apart from the fact that whoever or whatever Faz is, he's large and more than a little imposing.
  107. While Cheeky and Foxy have somewhat meager rooms compared to the other apartments you've been in, both have character that reflects their owners' personalities and priorities. Foxy's got his pirate toys and paraphernalia, Cheeky's got her oversized bed and dresser full of makeup. Even though you haven't gotten a look at Bonworth's room yet, you can imagine his is probably much the same way.
  109. Faz's bedroom, on the other hand, could easily be mistaken for a hospital room.
  111. ...or a mortuary.
  113. "Morning, pal," Bonworth says with muted cheerfulness as he crosses over to the window to draw the curtains apart. "How you doin' today?"
  115. As the room fills with the morning's light, you're finally able to get a good look at the mysterious being called Faz.
  117. As best as you can tell, he's a large, brown bear. His husky build implies a sturdiness that his slumped, weary shoulders belie. Several spots on his arms and neck are bandaged, a few of which are alarmingly discolored. You're pretty sure those small metal protrusions jutting out of his right bicep are wires, though what machine or device they're meant to connect to isn't immediately obvious.
  119. Visible lacerations across his neck and chest indicate multiple recent surgeries, and not just the kind that Cheeky's been through -- these scars are much, much fresher. Indentations from what were once sutures line his throat in pinpoint, precision patterns.
  121. You attempt to study Faz's face while simultaneously trying to avoid looking like you're staring at him. One of his ears appears to have been stitched back onto his skull, and a surgical mask hides most of his muzzle. His head is both gaunt and swollen, skin stretched tight as a drum over his scalp and bony cheeks, yet draped loosely around his throat and jowls.
  123. Wide and bright, his eyes glimmer in the morning sun like beacons, his gaze seeming to go on for miles. He glances first at Bonworth before shifting to stare at you. You nervously break eye contact out of instinct before sneaking a peek back at him again.
  125. He's still staring.
  127. Your awkwardness multiplies tenfold.
  129. Gingerly, Bonworth pulls the quilt off of Faz, adjusting his bed with the control box mounted on the wall so that he can rise to a sitting position.
  131. "Ready to meet a new friend?" Bonworth asks, gesturing to you with a broad smile. You give Faz a timid little wave.
  133. Tearing his gaze from from you, Faz locks eyes with Bonworth. He draws a deep, rattling breath, and with visible effort, raises a large paw to his neck. Pressing a finger to his nightshirt's collar, an audible click penetrates the heavy silence as Faz opens his mouth to speak.
  135. A tinny, synthetic voice rumbles from a speaker in his neck. You realize it's likely from one of those electronic voice boxes that cancer survivors use for when their vocal cords are too damaged to be able to speak properly. As a result, the tone of voice doesn't at all match the body it's coming from, giving the impression of a cartoony toy robot instead of what you would expect from the large, hulking figure in front of you.
  137. "Friends are what we live for," Faz responds dully.
  139. Bonworth winces, and you can't help but tilt your head at Faz's odd choice of words. Hesitantly, you step forward and extend a hand.
  141. "I'm Mike," you offer. "I'll be staying here for a few days... it's a long story."
  143. Faz wordlessly looks at your hand, making no effort to shake it.
  145. You sheepishly lower your arm to your side. "O-oh, right, sorry -- Cheeky mentioned you don't really like to be... ah, never mind," you stammer.
  147. "Say, Faz, you didn't eat much yesterday," Bonworth interjects, clearly noticing you floundering. "How about we go sort you out with some victuals? You feeling up for a walk into the living room?"
  149. Faz carefully nods, lowering his paw from his neck. With another ragged breath, he heaves himself to the edge of his bed. As if testing the waters, he gingerly touches both feet to the carpet before shifting his full weight onto them.
  151. "There you go, you're doin' great," Bonworth coaxes, awkwardly holding his arms out to either side, as if to catch the bear in case he falls. "Mike, do you think you could go fix us something for breakfast?"
  153. "Sure thing. What would you like to eat, Faz?" you inquire.
  155. Faz shakes his head apathetically, plodding towards the door.
  157. "Waffles!" Bonworth quickly answers on his behalf. "A couple waffles would be great, and maybe a little coffee?"
  159. "Comin' right up," you reply, grateful for any kind of direction. You open the door for Faz, who staggers out into the hallway at a snail's pace with Bonworth following closely behind.
  163. After Faz is situated in the living room, Bonworth excuses himself to go tend to Foxy while Faz fumbles with the TV's remote control. You head into the kitchen, eyeing the freezer's selection of frozen breakfast items before shaking your head. Nope, you're going to do this right.
  165. Rooting around in the kitchen cupboards, you eventually find a box of pancake mix that hasn't expired in between two that did (well over a year ago, no less). Making a mental note to clean the cabinets out when you next have free time, you begin a fruitless search for a proper waffle iron. After five solid minutes of checking every single nook and cranny in Bonworth's maze of a kitchen, you give up and settle on a small electric griddle.
  167. No self-respecting Belgian would ever allow you to claim that waffles and pancakes are the same, but damn it, a fresh hot pancake is going to beat a freezer waffle any day of the week. Besides, it's one of the six foods you know how to cook by heart (the others being hot dogs, ramen, and three different kinds of eggs). You might not be Freddy, but you can at least make a decent flapjack.
  169. Turning the griddle on, you raid the fridge for ingredients for fresh pancakes. There's an unopened carton of milk and a bowl of large eggs inside the fridge, and you remember seeing a bottle of syrup from your previous cleaning binge. The eggs not being in a carton makes you sneak a questioning look in the direction of Cheeky's room, but you quickly shake THAT thought out of your head. Some questions are better left unanswered.
  171. After mixing up the batter and testing the griddle to figure out how it works, you begin flipping pancakes. You're still stuck with microwave bacon but on the plus side there's plenty of eggs left. You contemplate asking Faz how he likes his eggs, but decide against it as you aren't likely to receive a response. Sunny side up was how your mom always made them for you as a child, and you don't figure on this being a picky crowd. Plus, anything's got to be an improvement over those greasy scrambled egg patties that you had yesterday morning.
  173. You still can't quite shake the rubbery taste out of your mouth.
  175. Foxy toddles into the living room, twitchy eyes lighting up when he sees Faz.
  177. "Captain on deck," Foxy announces, saluting with his good paw. "Good to see ye this morn', skipper."
  179. Faz clicks his throat and nods to Foxy. "At ease, sailor."
  181. So THAT was what he meant by not being the captain. You smile and wave to Foxy from the kitchen.
  183. "Morning, Foxy. You hungry?"
  185. "Hungary, no, can't say I was ever there," Foxy ponders, leaning against the wall. "Ships never made it out that far, farthings..."
  187. He turns, sniffs at the air, and his stomach involuntarily growls.
  189. "I'll take that as an aye," you joke. Satisfied that he's met your conversational standards for the time being, Foxy alights on the armrest of Faz's chair and settles into a ball, watching the TV with glazed eyes.
  191. Once you're certain you've cooked up enough pancakes, eggs, and bacon to feed everyone, you start the coffee maker and begin plating food. Cheeky wanders into the living room, running a makeup-coated wing through her headfeathers.
  193. "Oh, wow, hey Faz," she yawns, rubbing her eyes. "Kinda surprised to see you up and at 'em."
  195. Faz nods wordlessly in her direction as she stumbles into the kitchen. Looking up at you, she perks up considerably upon seeing your breakfast array.
  197. "Damn, Mikey!" Letting out a low whistle, Cheeky grins. "If I didn't know better, I'd assume you were trying to seduce me."
  199. You chuckle, handing her a plate with an exaggerated, almost Bonworth-esque wink. "Maybe I am, sweet cheeks!"
  201. She laughs aloud, and you can't help but join in as she does -- it's a genuine, bubbly laugh -- not laced with sarcasm or innuendo, not couching some hidden meaning. Honest happiness in its truest form, something you haven't heard in a while.
  203. "Well. I'm glad to see you're finally coming out of your shell a bit, Mike," she enthuses. "I like it. We could use a splash of color around here."
  205. A bright yellow bird, a purple rabbit, and a red fox -- you find yourself idly wondering what part of you would be considered "colorful" in comparison.
  207. "Well, I feel better after kind of, you know, venting a little last night. Thanks for being a sounding board."
  209. "Mmmm. Sometimes it's good to get stuff off your chest, you know." She nods, taking a whiff of her plate. "Don't be afraid of honesty, just be afraid of how you choose to channel it."
  211. "Yeah, I got a good dose of that yesterday," you mutter. "Oops. Sorry, I promised Bonworth I wouldn't talk about it."
  213. "Sounds like something he'd make you do," she chuckles, picking up another plate to take to the living room. "Bon's not the type to hold a grudge, not ever."
  215. You sigh, cutting a little slab of butter for your own pancakes.
  217. "Probably a good policy to have," you muse.
  219. The two of you carry everyone's breakfast into the living room and begin setting up the folding tables. There are only three, so you and Cheeky opt to simply use your laps.
  221. Exiting his bedroom, Bonworth settles into his seat with an excited smile. "Fresh flapjacks and eggs? That's for me!" he declares, slicking his headfur back with a paw. "What a way to start the morning off. Thanks for cheffing for us, Mike."
  223. "It's no big deal," you reply. "I'm afraid this is about the extent of my cooking skill, though, so don't get too awful excited. I'm no Freddy."
  225. "Nnnngh. No complaints here," Cheeky says as she takes a seat next to you on the sofa, rubbing her stomach. "I think this is the first breakfast in two months I've had that wasn't out of a box or a bag."
  227. "It's still out of a box!" you laugh. "I didn't mill any artisan pancake mix, I'm sorry to say."
  229. She pokes you in the side with a wingtip. "Semantics! You know what I mean, it's not frozen or whatever. Anyway, let's eat!"
  231. "That's what I like to hear!" Bonworth proclaims, raising a coffee cup in a mock toast.
  233. Reaching up to his mouth, Faz pulls his surgical mask off. Your heart sinks as you get a good look at his face, or rather, what's left of it.
  235. You can't shake the visual impression of a skull. His muzzle's a thin, gaunt mess. His teeth press tightly against the thin skin of his lips, which are themselves cracked and blistered. He doesn't appear to even have a nose -- his nasal cavity is scarred and exposed to open air. He carefully opens his mouth revealing a spotted tongue and a couple of missing teeth.
  237. Chiclet, by comparison, has the mouth of a supermodel -- scars and all.
  239. He presses a forkful of pancakes into his mouth, chewing and swallowing audibly. Without turning his head from the morning news, he presses a finger to his voicebox.
  241. "It's good," Faz says.
  243. "I'm glad," you reply with a smile before politely turning your attention to the television set.
  247. "Guess I'd better get going. Are you sure I'm not leaving you with too much to do?" Bonworth nervously asks, straightening his bow tie for the third time in five minutes.
  249. "What's he going to do, run off without me?" you quip, gesturing to Faz. "I get that you're the caretaker here, but we'll be fine. Foxy's with Bonbon, and I'm sure if Faz needs something he'll let me know. Go help Marion, I'll hold down the fort."
  251. Bonworth wrings his paws. "Don't forget his medicine at--"
  253. "At noon, I know," you interrupt. "And then again at two. And not the green bottle, that's at bedtime, and you'll be back by then. Bonworth, I've got your written instructions as well as Cheeky if I need help, and worst case scenario? I can just call the front desk and talk to you myself."
  255. "Well, I mean, if we REALLY wanna talk 'worst case'..." He reaches a paw up to his collar, but you playfully swat it away.
  257. "You tug any tighter on that neck ribbon of yours, you're going to cut off the oxygen to your brain," you joke. "Relax. We're fine."
  259. Bonworth laughs. "I guess I am makin' a pretty big fuss, aren't I."
  261. "Sure are!" you chortle. "Now go bail our goofball of a landlord out."
  263. He grins sheepishly, slipping his coat on.
  265. "While I'm down there, I'll see if we can do somethin' about getting the process streamlined to move Miss April into her own place, so that you can get back to ol' Chiclet and the others. I imagine you're climbin' the walls here."
  267. You think back to 87-B. Chiclet never did call you back, and then there was the whole debacle with Mangle, not to mention Bonnibel's refusal to answer the door yesterday morning.
  269. "Oh, don't go to any trouble on my behalf. I'm not in a real hurry to get back over there," you reply, and you're surprised to find you mean it.
  271. Bonworth tucks his paws in his pockets and whistles. "Well all right then, I'll see you this evenin'. Thanks again, Mike."
  273. "Hey, thank you for letting me stay here. See you tonight."
  275. After Bonworth closes the door behind himself, you turn to head back into the living room, taking stock of the apartment.
  277. At Chiclet's, you rarely had a moment's quiet. There was always a happening of some variety between running errands or dealing with your roommates' antics. You definitely stayed busy. Today's the first day in a long while where you've got the luxury of privacy and free time, since Foxy and Bonworth are currently out of the house and Cheeky's napping in her room.
  279. It's an unusual feeling.
  281. Faz is seated in his chair, gazing out the window into the courtyard. He's since changed clothes and cleaned himself up a little, but he's every bit as miserable-looking as he was before. Steeling your nerves, you stride with purpose over to the sofa and lean against it, clearing your throat. Faz apathetically tilts his head to focus on you.
  283. You both hold each other's gaze, and when it's clear that you're not going to win the staring contest with him, you force a grin.
  285. "So, Faz -- you, uh, watch any good movies lately?"
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