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Roommates - Ch. 34 (The Careless Friends of 87-A)

Jul 30th, 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. 34 (The Careless Friends of 87-A): http://i.imgur.com/hDBh2vy.png
  4. Inspired by Weaver's Five Nights at Freddy's Apartment AU: http://i.imgur.com/LnDJVNL.png
  5. Part of an ongoing series written for the /5N@F/ General Discussion Thread at /vg/.
  6. Sincerest thanks to Weaver (http://tgweaver.tumblr.com/) for all of the invaluable assistance in writing, proofreading, and editing this story as well as for illustrating the chapter title cards.
  7. Additionally, thanks to Systemeth (http://pastebin.com/u/Systemeth) for proofreading and editing this chapter.
  8. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at http://roommatesau.tumblr.com/
  9.  
  10. ---
  11.  
  12. "So I hate to drop this on you," Bonbon sheepishly begins as you set your luggage down by the front door.
  13.  
  14. You instinctively grimace, still clenching your suitcase's handles as you slowly brace yourself for whatever bombshell she's about to drop on you. Now that you're on Bonbon's home turf and she's completely unfettered, there's no way of telling what's going on in her brain. Considering Chiclet's repeated warnings as well as Mangle and even April seeming concerned, you may have just walked into a trap. For all you know, Bonbon could be preparing to ask you to strip down to your underwear and rub barbeque sauce into her fur as part of some kind of "human mating dance" that she's seen in her cartoons.
  15.  
  16. "Yeah?" you hesitantly venture as she anxiously dances back and forth in place.
  17.  
  18. "I know this is all, like, sudden notice and everything, but, uh -- I have to go to work," she says with an awkward smile. "I mean, don't get me wrong, Mike. Beanie's big 'farewell' was all dramatic and poignant and stuff, and -- and I'm totally all about solidarity! It's just, uh..."
  19.  
  20. You exhale heavily, releasing your grip on your luggage. "Hey, no, you gotta put food on the table," you respond. The fact that you're somehow put at ease by her bringing up Jeremy Human's isn't lost on you. "I don't blame you one bit."
  21.  
  22. "Thanks, Mike," she says, pulling a faded windbreaker out from a pile of clothes on the living room floor. "I won't be long! I'm working part-time so I'll be back after lunch. Feel free to eat whatever you want out of the fridge."
  23.  
  24. "Oh, um, thank you."
  25.  
  26. "Man, I hate running out on you without giving you a grand tour and all," she mumbles as she sniffs at her jacket before reluctantly slipping it on.
  27.  
  28. "It's fine," you reply, waving her off. "Mangle kept me a bit longer than I expected earlier." And then of course there was the conversation you had with Bonnibel, and then Bonnibel kissing you, and then the lecture you got from April about the mating habits of lagomorphs after Bonnibel kissed you...
  29.  
  30. Bonbon slips her jacket on over her head without even bothering to unzip it first. "Speaking of Mangles, ours is already out for the day. Peanut should be up in a little while. I don't know about Chica, though."
  31.  
  32. "Chica?" you ask, trying to figure out which one she's referring to. "Uh -- Goose, right?"
  33.  
  34. "Yeah, Goose. Her sleep schedule's kind of all over the place right now, so you might not see her until later tonight. Or tomorrow morning. Or tomorrow night."
  35.  
  36. "I know what you mean; my own internal clock's shot right now," you begrudgingly admit. "I don't think I could EVER keep Beanie's schedule -- working midnight to six sounds miserable. Especially in that hellhole."
  37.  
  38. Grabbing her change purse from the kitchen counter, Bonbon casually vaults over a pile of trash bags on her way towards the front door. "Eh, it's not so bad during the day. It's kinda boring, actually -- I just sit up front and stamp wrists all day long. Occasionally they have me go clean out the ball pit or wipe down tables. Not a glamorous job -- but probably the safest."
  39.  
  40. "Good," you answer, relieved. "Just, uh, keep your distance from Fritzine. And really all of the other crazy robots."
  41.  
  42. Raising an eyebrow, she pauses, one paw on the doorknob. "Mike."
  43.  
  44. "What, I don't get to worry about my friends too?" you retort, folding your arms.
  45.  
  46. "Mike, c'mon now," she laughs. "I'm fine!"
  47.  
  48. You raise a hand pre-emptively before she can talk you down. "I'm just -- I don't think I've got another rescue mission in me," you joke weakly, your voice catching a little.
  49.  
  50. Sizing you up for a moment, Bonbon nods. "Thanks, Mike. You don't have to worry about me, though," she says softly. "I'm not about to get my ears ripped off when we've got HumieCon right around the corner."
  51.  
  52. Groaning, you give her a good-natured roll of your eyes. "Of course. You just want to see me try to squeeze into a pair of tights, don't you."
  53.  
  54. "You're damn right I do!" she enthuses without a single trace of shame. "When I get home today, we're gonna have a long talk about your fitness regimen! You're already so many days behind, and I'm willing to let it slide 'cause you've had a lot on your plate and all -- but it just means we're gonna have to work extra hard to get you closer to your ideal weight."
  55.  
  56. "Joy," you chuckle. "Can we at least wait for my ribs to heal up? I'm not really supposed to be exerting myself--"
  57.  
  58. "No good! HumieCon'll already be over by then!" she gasps, cutting you off. "Look, I'll run everything past Doc Rabbinson when she swings by with your pain pills tonight and get her to sign off on it. We'll get you in shape but I gotta run right now so see you this afternoon!"
  59.  
  60. You watch helplessly as the door slams shut before casting a forlorn glance to your paunch. Well, it'll do you some good to lose a few pounds. With a sigh, you walk down the hall and into the common area. Might as well kill some time until Peanut or one of Bonbon's other housemates wakes up. It's tempting to go back upstairs with your friends, but you don't want to appear ungrateful especially after just having arrived.
  61.  
  62. The living room's even more of a mess than it was the last time you were here. Dirty laundry's heaped up in piles all over the room, baskets and hampers long since having overflowed. The kitchen table is now surrounded by trash bags, some of which are giving off a decidedly pungent odor. Every available surface is covered in mail (opened and unopened), magazines, stacks of dirty dishes, and other assorted junk.
  63.  
  64. The couch seems to serve as a sort of dresser, with clean (?) clothes for every member of the apartment draped over the back and armrests -- you recognize Peanut's patchwork suit and soft hat, thinking back with a smile to how bashful he seemed the other day. Bonbon's exercise clothes are wadded up in fluorescent bundles of cotton and spandex. She's got sweatbands, leotards, and leggings in just about every color of the rainbow.
  65.  
  66. You examine the television set; the entertainment center it's resting on is stuffed to overflowing with vintage cassette tapes, most of which seem to be either exercise tapes or low-budget action movies. Between the blue and pink neon decor, the tacky modern art paintings hanging on the walls, the splatter-paint curtains and the VHS collection, you really do feel like you're stuck in the eighties.
  67.  
  68. Hefting one of the VHS tapes, you flip it around and skim the back. "RabbotCop," you mutter, reading over the first few lines before shaking your head and returning it to the shelf with a scowl. "A rabbit that becomes a robotic police officer. Yeeaaaahh, little too close for comfort, thanks."
  69.  
  70. Exercise mats are spread across the entirety of the living room, covering up the flooring. You lift at one of them with the tip of your foot only to instantly regret it; underneath is a thick layer of loose fur in no fewer than three different colors. You can't even tell what the original carpet is supposed to look like.
  71.  
  72. Fred wasn't joking about this household lacking discipline and clear leadership. If the living room alone this big of a mess, you can't begin to imagine what the rest of the house looks like.
  73.  
  74. Sighing, you shuffle over to the couch and move aside a button-up dress shirt only to reveal several pairs of sequin-covered underwear. Narrowing your eyes, you brush at them with one of the pillows before carefully lowering yourself onto the cushion, already feeling like you need another shower. There's not much you can do but patiently wait for the rest of your new "roomies" to wake up.
  75.  
  76.  
  77.  
  78. Yawning, Peanut stumbles into the living room at half past noon in a white undershirt and flannel pants, lazily scratching at his side.
  79.  
  80. "G'mornin', Mike," he shouts over the sound of the vacuum cleaner with a tired smile before walking over to the refrigerator, only to stop dead in his tracks as he whirls to look at you. "Mike?!"
  81.  
  82. "Hey, Peanut," you reply, switching the vacuum off. He whirls around the room in bewilderment as if he's woken up in an entirely foreign location, and at this point you're not sure that's far off the mark. After you lost track of time waiting in silence in the living room, you decided to busy yourself by neatening up a little. Hours later, the apartment's starting to look more like a typical college dorm and less like a bomb went off inside.
  83.  
  84. The yoga mats are rolled up neatly in the corner of the room, tucked between the couch and the back wall. All of the trash has been collected from the kitchen and subsequently escorted to the dumpster outside (one bag at a time, of course, considering your chest pain). You've dusted the television and sorted the tape collection, and you're halfway through your third load of dirty dishes. You've had to change the vacuum cleaner bag twice already and it'll probably take at least one more before you're able to lift all of the loose hair and fur up from the carpet.
  85.  
  86. "Wh-what are you, uh...?" Peanut stammers, spinning around like a top as he takes everything in with pie eyes.
  87.  
  88. "Bonbon insisted I come spend a few days with you guys while we get April's housing situation sorted out, so I thought I'd at least try to make myself useful."
  89.  
  90. Scratching the back of your head with a nervous chuckle, you realize you might be a bit out of line; while you feel comfortable around Bonbon, it's only just now occuring to you that there are three other occupants in this house. In fact, you've never even met one of them. That's why you left the laundry alone -- it's one thing to vacuum the floor and carry out the trash, but going through someone's personal effects is an entirely different matter.
  91.  
  92. "I, ah, hope you don't mind," you comment, hoping you haven't just inadvertently brought unwanted wrath down on your own head. "I kind of got carried away."
  93.  
  94. "Carried away?" he repeats, fully awake now. "Are you kidding? This is the cleanest I've seen it in, um, well, since we moved in, I guess."
  95.  
  96. Walking past the kitchen table, Peanut runs a finger across the polished surface. "I hope you get carried away more often, man," he says, pulling a box of cereal from the cupboard. "I'm sure the others'll, uh, be just -- wow. This is -- wow, Mike."
  97.  
  98. "Well, I'm glad to hear it's 'wow'," you laugh. After finishing the carpets, you put the vacuum away in a closet that's jam-packed with toys, games, and other assorted paraphernalia -- most of which you imagine belongs to Bonbon.
  99.  
  100. "So, Peanut..." You pause halfway through addressing him only to realize he's not where he was a minute ago. In his place at the table are an empty bowl and cereal box along with a half-finished glass of juice. He's already nestled into a pile of clothes on the couch, watching afternoon television with a contented grin.
  101.  
  102. "What's that?" he mumbles, attention already focused on the TV screen.
  103.  
  104. "Uh, nothing." With a shake of your head, you gather his discarded bowl and cereal to put them away. It's been a while since you ate breakfast and you have worked up an appetite, but cereal doesn't look the least bit appealing. Unfortunately, the fridge is loaded down with almost nothing but fruit and vegetables -- most of which appears inedible, based on the unappetizing colors and smells. Bonworth's fridge was a mess, but this is an entirely new level of irresponsibility bordering on sheer wastefulness.
  105.  
  106. Checking the clock, you notice that Mango and Bonbon still aren't back yet. If what Bonbon said is accurate, Goose may end up sleeping for a while. Peanut's obviously too absorbed with TV to be much for conversation at the moment. At this point you've done as much as you can to clean, short of gathering the laundry or emptying out the rotten groceries in the refrigerator -- neither of which are something you feel okay doing. You could probably get away with popping upstairs for a quick bite to eat.
  107.  
  108. "I'll be back in a little bit, Peanut," you call out as you grab your coat from the front door.
  109.  
  110. "Sure," he says distractedly as he begins flipping channels. "Have a good day at work, Bonnie."
  111.  
  112. Chuckling to yourself, you zip up your coat and let yourself out.
  113.  
  114.  
  115.  
  116. "Told you so," Chiclet laughs as Frederick serves you a plate. Even though you missed out on their lunch, he still insisted on making something fresh for you to eat. "You'll have your work cut out for you if you think you're just gonna roll in and whip them into shape."
  117.  
  118. "I'm not sure even Fred Fazbear could get that household under control," you quip, dipping your grilled cheese sandwich into the tomato soup. "Oh, um, bon sandwich, Freddy."
  119.  
  120. Frederick nods approvingly before returning to work cleaning. It amazes you to see how much effort both he and Chichi put into maintaining their respective kitchens, whereas Bonbon's resembles a landfill more than somewhere to prepare and serve food -- and that's to say nothing of the rest of the place. Clearly her health-conscious behavior involves spending more time at the gym or jogging than maintaining her apartment. Even still, that doesn't let Mango, Peanut, or the enigmatic Goose off the hook at all -- they're every bit as responsible as she is for the upkeep of their home.
  121.  
  122. "I don't get it at all," you continue. "How can anyone live like that? I mean, I'm grateful for the, y'know, for Bonbon opening her home up to a complete stranger -- but like, my skin was crawling just looking at the carpet."
  123.  
  124. "Ehhhh, I feel ya. That's what happens when four free spirits shack up together," Chiclet comments as she sips at her coffee.
  125.  
  126. "Four? So Goose is right in line with the others, then?" you ask between bites.
  127.  
  128. "You couldn't tell?"
  129.  
  130. "I still haven't met her, and Mango's apparently out of the house right now. Peanut was the only one around."
  131.  
  132. "Ahhh. Well, Goose and I are old friends from college. We used to joke that she could detect any party within a five mile radius," Chiclet laughs, running a wing through her headfeathers. "It's like she had some kind of -- euphoria radar."
  133.  
  134. You've now got an amusing mental image of Chiclet running around a city at night with a smaller version of herself acting as some kind of receiver.
  135.  
  136. "You haven't talked much about her, though."
  137.  
  138. Shrugging, Chiclet refills her coffee cup from the carafe. "We're still close, but our days of hitting up warehouse raves and sorority socials are behind us. Gotta grow up sometime, right?"
  139.  
  140. "If it helps, I can swing by the store and pick you up some margarita mix and a few cheap bead necklaces," you offer.
  141.  
  142. Chiclet gives you an incredulous smile, blush playing at her cheeks as she covers her rugged lips with a wing. "Hah, and here I was thinking you were a total square. Any time you want to get absolutely shitfaced, little man, I'll drink you under the table."
  143.  
  144. Thinking back to your trip to the bar, you wince a little. "I'm down to party, but I'll probably hold off on any binge drinking for a while if it's all the same to you."
  145.  
  146. "Shame," Chiclet says. "I'm gonna hold you to the necklaces, though."
  147.  
  148. Snorting, you mop up the last of your soup with the remnants of your bread crust. "Tell you what, I'll get a bunch and we can give them out as prizes for our next pajama night together," you reply.
  149.  
  150. "Kickass." Toasting your soda can with her coffee cup, Chiclet jerks a thumb at a softly-dozing April. "So I talked to mama bunny about your little exploit with Bonnie."
  151.  
  152. "Oh, shit. How much trouble am I in?"
  153.  
  154. It's obvious she's struggling not to laugh. "Well, rabbits mate for life, you know."
  155.  
  156. "I've heard," you mutter. "Believe me, I've heard."
  157.  
  158. "Haha. Well, Bonnie was embarrassed earlier when she told me about it. Apparently she got caught up in the moment. Not that you'd know anything about being impulsive, right?"
  159.  
  160. You stack your plates up to carry to the kitchen sink. "Absolutely not. I'm totally not the type to, oh, I dunno -- start cleaning an apartment for a bunch of people I barely know."
  161.  
  162. "Exactly, right?" Chiclet says, eyes wide in mock surprise. "You'd NEVER do something like that. Anyway, it's probably for the best if you pretend it never happened."
  163.  
  164. "The kiss, or cleaning their pad?"
  165.  
  166. Chiclet presses a wingertip to her front teeth, pretending to consider it before breaking out into a big smile.
  167.  
  168. "Nah, Mike. If you're worried about overstepping your bounds or whatever, don't be. I can tell you right now that Bonbon'll be thrilled, and despite whatever Mangle tells you, Mango's not the devil."
  169.  
  170. There's a thump overhead as an angry muzzle pokes out of the ceiling. "Of course not! She's just his bride," Mangle sniffs.
  171.  
  172. Chiclet reaches up and closes the air vent cover. "Don't you have orders to mail or something, Em?"
  173.  
  174. "Fiiiine."
  175.  
  176. Turning back to you, the hen raises her coffee mug to her mouth, catching the excess drizzle with a napkin as she takes another drink. "But yeah, they're not the type to get worked up over stuff like that. Besides, Peanut's used to people kind of taking care of him anyway -- he's a little bit, y'know..."
  177.  
  178. "I got the vibe, yeah," you chuckle as Frederick accepts your plates, loading them into the dishwasher. "Sweet kid, though."
  179.  
  180. "Oh, he's a softy. Kind of a mess and a bit insecure, but he'd never hurt a fly. Hey -- speaking of hurting, how's your chest?"
  181.  
  182. You lift your shirt, letting Chiclet get an eyeful of the bruises. She cringes in sympathy, gently tracing a wingtip over your torso. "Harsh, dude. That's gotta sting like hell."
  183.  
  184. "It's not comfortable," you agree as you lower your shirt. "As long as I'm real careful when I'm doing anything, I'm alright. Like cleaning earlier was okay because I went slow. Carried trash bags one at a time, that sort of thing. I don't think I could go working out at the gym in the shape I'm in, though -- contrary to what Bonbon seems to believe."
  185.  
  186. "Don't let her push you, Mike," Chiclet warns. "She'll have you running laps and I don't want you developing like, pneumonia or whatever."
  187.  
  188. "I'll let you know if she gets too crazy." Glancing at the clock, you realize you've been gone longer than you intended for what was supposed to be a quick lunch. "Anyway, I should probably be heading back -- Bonbon should be getting home from work by now and I don't want anyone to think I up and ditched them."
  189.  
  190. "Good idea. I'll see you later, then."
  191.  
  192. You grab your coat from the rack by the door, waving to Chiclet. "Once more into the fray," you joke before heading outside.
  193.  
  194.  
  195.  
  196. "I'm back, Peanut," you call out as you open the front door to Bonbon's apartment. There's a fresh pile of discarded laundry in the hall including a familiar-looking windbreaker; Bonbon must have returned while you were gone.
  197.  
  198. "There you are, roomie!" Bonbon playfully chides from the living room, propped against a dozing Peanut with her legs hanging off of the couch. "I told you I'd be back after lunch. Where'd you get off to?"
  199.  
  200. You point at the ceiling. "Oh, I went to go talk to Chiclet for a bit," you reply evasively, not wanting to have to explain that you left in search of edible food. "Peanut's already passed out again?"
  201.  
  202. "Well, it's November," she says, affectionately patting his belly with a paw. "You know how that goes."
  203.  
  204. "N-no, not real-- oooohhhh. Hibernation?" you ask, realizing what she's alluding to.
  205.  
  206. "Basically, yeah. He doesn't do the full cryogenic thing, but he does nap a lot more in the winter than normal." Easing off of Peanut, she hops up from the couch and bounds over to you. "But enough of that. I LOVE what you've done with the place! This was such a huge treat to come back to!"
  207.  
  208. Two down, two to go. "Oh, thanks. You might want to take a look inside your fridge sometime, I think a few of your vegetables need to be, uh..."
  209.  
  210. "Yeah, I've been meaning to clean it out," she says, scratching her head. "I've just been so caught up with HumieCon prep, and work, and then of course exercise and all that. And the new season of Legend of Bob just started and I've been binge-watching this great new humie show from overseas and it's not even SUBBED yet but you can really feel the emotion in the voice acting. Anyway, busy busy -- stuff's just gotten away from me lately."
  211.  
  212. You're starting to get what Fred and Chiclet meant. This is what the norm is here -- eating cereal, watching cartoons, and then going outside to play. No wonder they work at a kiddie pizzeria; Bonbon and Peanut are practically the target audience.
  213.  
  214. The front door clicks open before you can respond to her, which is probably for the best.
  215.  
  216. "I'm home, Bonnie! The twins were VERY hands-on today, but I've never had a problem handling two at one ti-- oh, hello, Mike!" Mango calls out from behind you in the foyer. You turn around to greet her, but there's nobody there.
  217.  
  218. "That was fast," you chuckle to Bonbon, who's since casually thrown her arm around your shoulder like she's posing for a photo with an old friend. "Um, what was that about twins?"
  219.  
  220. The heater vent in the floor next to the TV opens up, and Mango erupts from the carpet with a smile, startling you. Oh, great. Another one that does this gag. Not that you're bitter or anything, but the one time YOU try it you nearly slice your leg off.
  221.  
  222. "It's nice to get to see you face-to-face without a flowerbed between us," she titters, as if communicating through an air duct is somehow vastly preferable. "How are you feeling, Mike?"
  223.  
  224. "Sore, but I can't complain," you reply, shaking loose from Bonbon to offer the vixen a handshake. She tilts her head quizzically at your proffered hand before giving your palm a tentative lick. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you feel her rough, moist canine tongue brush against your hand. You cast a nervous look in Bonbon's direction, but she doesn't seem to notice anything strange about it.
  225.  
  226. "Mmmm. Well, I'm glad you'll be staying with us for a little while," Mango coyly responds as she dabs at her muzzle. "I've been wanting a chance to measure you for myself, since I don't trust Foxglove."
  227.  
  228. "Ah, f-for the costume?" You nonchalantly try to brush your hand against your jeans, hoping she doesn't notice you wiping her saliva off.
  229.  
  230. Mango blinks a few times, seemingly considering the question. "Oh, sure. And just, you know... in general."
  231.  
  232. There's an awkward pause as you're not certain of what to say in response. She doesn't seem to mind, observing you for several uncomfortable seconds, her smile never faltering.
  233.  
  234. "Anyway! I'm going to go change and get some supplies so we can get started. I won't be long -- Bonnie, sweetheart, can you put on some tea for me, please?"
  235.  
  236. "Sure," Bonbon chirps as she sprints to the kitchen, yanking the cupboard open. "Mike, you want a cup?"
  237.  
  238. "I'm, uh -- I'm good, thanks."
  239.  
  240. "Well then, back in just a moment," Mango says, closing the grate behind herself before thumping off into the depths of the apartment.
  241.  
  242.  
  243.  
  244. Ten minutes later, Mango returns to the living room, this time emerging from what you're assuming is her bedroom door in the hallway. She's slowly pushing a small rolling cart loaded down with buckets and plastic organizers full of various craft materials -- sheets of felt, colored foam, glue sticks, tubs of glitter, and so on. As she makes it into the common area, her face lights up.
  245.  
  246. "Oh my goodness! The place is absolutely pristine!" she declares, absently kicking aside some laundry. "Bonnie, I KNOW this wasn't your doing. Are you our mystery maid, Mike?"
  247.  
  248. "Guilty as charged," you reply amiably as you study Mango.
  249.  
  250. Of the two Mangles you know, Mango Mangle is easily the shorter one, probably only coming up to Foxglove Mangle's shoulder. She's wearing a loose-fitting sweater and a long, fluffy floral skirt with what appears to be a petticoat underneath -- it's noticeably flared especially around the hips, much moreso than a skirt would be on someone with her tiny frame.
  251.  
  252. Her eyes are probably her most immediately striking feature -- they seem to be opened at their fullest possible width, as if she's trying to take in as much visual information as possible. Her makeup's more neatly-applied than Mangle's is, or perhaps it appears to be so because it's simply less caked-on. Unlike Mangle, whose fur appears to be naturally white, Mango looks as if her fur might be dyed or bleached as you can see that her roots are closer to a vibrant pink.
  253.  
  254. "Well, I've got to give a hand to you, Mike," Mango beams as she shoves her cart into the living room. "You haven't even been here a full day and already you're servicing us well! Such a clean, neat atmosphere ReaAAllLYy makes me want to create."
  255.  
  256. "I'm glad to be appreciated. Believe me, you have no idea how much it means to me after the last few days. So, uh, we doing some arts and crafts here, or what exactly?" you ask, standing up to examine her tray full of supplies. "These are some pretty nice--"
  257.  
  258. Before you can finish, Mango upends the cart into the center of the room, sending everything that was precariously loaded upon it all over the floor with a terrific crash. Startled, you step back in surprise. To his credit, Peanut hasn't even so much as moved, still snoring. Mango begins flicking through the pile with both arms and her tail, tossing pieces around in a seemingly random order until she finds what she's looking for -- a single measuring tape and a pencil.
  259.  
  260. "Ooooh!" Bonbon cheers from the kitchen, bounding over with a tray of teacups as you stare in complete shock at the chaos Mango's just generated. All that effort cleaning, and she's undone a good half of it in two seconds. "Are we going to get started on the Bobulator?!"
  261.  
  262. "You'd better believe it," Mango replies, her manic grin still firmly in place as she tosses a tube of fabric paint aside.
  263.  
  264. Pumping her fist in the air, Bonbon nearly sloshes tea everywhere as she hands Mango her cup. "SUH-WEEEET! Alright, Mike. We've put this off long enough but tonight -- oh, tonight I'm gonna make a man outta you," she enthuses, dashing off down the front hallway to her room.
  265.  
  266. You whirl in place, your heart racing as Mango sips at her tea. "I'm not -- why does everybody keep saying that I'm a virgin?" you sputter, annoyed and horrified. "Also, don't I get a say in any of this? Do I need to go get Chiclet?!"
  267.  
  268. "The heck are you talking about, Mike?" Bonbon shouts from her bedroom. "Get your mind out of the gutter, because we're gonna take you on a magical journey of wholesome family entertainment, good for ages 12 and up! Today's the day you go from being a BOY..."
  269.  
  270. Bonbon jumps, somersaults, and twists into a series of increasingly complex poses before landing in front of you, producing a DVD from behind her back with a flourish.
  271.  
  272. "...to a BOB!"
  273.  
  274. "Oh, oh good," you sigh in relief, accepting the package from her. "So is this that 'Legend of Bob' thing you've been going on and on about?"
  275.  
  276. "The complete first season! I just got it in the mail a few days ago," Bonbon gushes, teeth gleaming as she scampers around behind you to read the cover over your shoulder. "Original sub AND the dub if you're a lame-o, but you're a monkey so I'm sure you'd find the dub even more insulting than I do! Mike, I'm telling you now -- this show is going to change. Your. LIFE."
  277.  
  278. "Change my life, huh," you echo dubiously, looking at the cover. You've seen this character once before, on her cell phone when she showed you the picture of the costume you'd be wearing at the convention's contest. The cover features "Bob Legendmann", a big, muscular human with a neon blue mohawk and a space-age gladiator suit with too many pockets and pouches to count. He's got some kind of strange silver apparatus hooked onto his left arm, though you can't tell what it's supposed to be. Next to him is a dumpy-looking human child in overalls with a propeller hat and a balloon.
  279.  
  280. "Who's this guy?" you ask, pointing to the pathetic, wall-eyed figure that more closely resembles a cheap Playskool toy than an actual human being.
  281.  
  282. "Uuuuuggghhh. THAT fu--" Catching a sharp look from Mango, Bonbon hastily corrects her language. "--errrr, that's 'Balloon Boy', his sidekick! He's introduced in episode two, but he doesn't contribute anything to the plot. He, uh, mostly just stands around and laughs."
  283.  
  284. "Sounds exciting. So this balloon cartoon is your favorite thing to watch right now?" you ask, flipping the DVD case over to read the back.
  285.  
  286. "It's not about balloons and it's not a cartoon," Bonbon scoffs, plucking it out of your hands before you can get too engrossed. "It's a superior show from a superior overseas animation studio. Besides, don't let the cover turn you off, this isn't exactly an authorized copy, anyway. They had to use fanart."
  287.  
  288. Perking up from holding her measuring tape to your knee, Mango frowns. "Bonnie! Did you purchase another bootleg again? You know you should support the official release -- how do you think the artists feel knowing that good money is being thrown after bad?"
  289.  
  290. "I wasn't gonna wait six months for them to get it onto DVD over here just to watch it," Bonbon whines, stomping her foot. "Besides! I'll definitely buy the retail release when it's out. I promise!"
  291.  
  292. "Hnnnh. You'd better; craftsmen are worthy of their wage, you know."
  293.  
  294. Nodding, Bonbon sprints over to the TV and shoves a stack of VHS tapes aside to reveal a DVD player underneath the VCR. "If we hurry, Mike, we can get through the first thirteen episodes before dinner, and then I can start catching you up on season two!"
  295.  
  296. "Thirteen-- oh, wow," you choke, laughing worriedly. You never imagined you'd be spending your evening binge-watching bizarre alien anime, but Bonbon seems enthusiastic as she looks at you with pleading eyes.
  297.  
  298. "How else are you supposed to know how to act in character, Mike?" she appeals, wringing her paws. "This is it! I'm telling you now, EVERYONE is gonna be talking about Legend of Bob! Heck, I even convinced the manager at Jeremy Human's to import an arcade cabinet from another frickin' CONTINENT it's so good!"
  299.  
  300. You make a show of considering it as Mango quietly sips her tea.
  301.  
  302. "Ah, fine. I'll give it a couple episodes to see--"
  303.  
  304. "Thanks so much Mike! I know you won't regret it!" she whoops, slamming the disc into the tray with extreme prejudice.
  305.  
  306. "I, uh, I guess I'll stand here and watch while you get the measurements you need, Mango?"
  307.  
  308. "Sounds good," she says, setting her teacup aside as Bonbon turns up the TV volume. "If you need to take a break at any time, just let me know since I'll be very... thorough."
  309.  
  310. With one smooth motion, Mango unfastens your belt buckle, dropping your jeans to the ground and exposing your boxers.
  311.  
  312. "Break!" you yelp in alarm. "Break!"
  313.  
  314. "Oh, you kidder," Mango laughs as she presses the tape measure to your cheeks while Bonbon wolf-whistles from the couch. "Let's get started!"
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