Roommates - Ch. 28 (Peace of Pizza)

May 17th, 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
  3. Roommates - Ch. 28 (Peace of Pizza): http://i.imgur.com/sNCKegs.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. It's black as pitch in Fred's office; you can't even see your own hand in front of your face right now. If it wasn't for the constant whirring of the desk fan, you'd assume the power went out. Getting up from your bed, you grab for the cord overhead to light the room. The bulb flickers a little; it's probably close to burning out, but some light is better than no light at all.
  13. You cast your gaze over the photos tacked to the corkboard hanging above the desk. The group photo that caught your eye during your first night here stands out among the rest of the snapshots once again. You carefully pluck it free from its place on the board, holding it up to the light as you try to make the details out. Familiar faces smile back at you innocently, friends and co-workers having gathered around a party table to celebrate some grand event from better days. Blink once, and suddenly their faces are scratched out as if someone's tried to remove them from the picture. The previously unrecognizable "guest of honor" from before is the only remaining face in the crowd; the singular, universal constant -- even if everything and everyone else is reduced to zero, Jeremy Human will continue to abide.
  15. You toss the photo away from yourself in disgust, watching with small satisfaction as it disappears into the void. You REALLY don't want to be here right now. You should have gone back home after Chiclet extended the offer to let you back in -- hell, you should have swallowed your pride and gone back to Bonworth and Cheeky, or made arrangements with Marion to move into someone else's apartment until April could be re-situated. There's a lot of things you should have done, and more than a few that you shouldn't have. It's too late now, though.
  17. Forcing yourself from your self-induced pity party, you slowly stumble away from the desk and into the center of Fred's tiny workspace. While you groggily try to figure out what you want to do, the nighttime calm is broken by the sounds of pots and pans crashing together in the kitchen. Startled, you hurry out into the hallway to investigate the noise, but your feet only partially cooperate, feeling heavy as lead.
  19. You try to call out only to find that your voice is gone; all that escapes from your mouth is a dry, grasping whisper. You press your hands against your throat in an attempt to clear whatever blockage is holding you back from being able to communicate.
  21. Chichi? you cry out once more, but again your vocal cords let you down.
  23. At this point you're so exasperated you feel like you could cry. Slogging down the hallway is an exercise in misery; the carpet's quicksand beneath your feet. Your legs are so tired from exertion that they feel like rubber bands seconds away from snapping, but you know you have to check the kitchen considering how unusual it is to hear activity this late at night. Someone could be hurt, or worse. You try to push the troubling thoughts out of your mind, choosing to focus on the task at hand.
  25. Unable to get traction, you drop to your hands and knees, army-crawling across the floor just to make it as far as the living room. Emerging from the end of the eastern hallway, you take a break to catch your breath. Out of the corner of your eye, something red and fast bolts through the living room doing what looks like close to sixty, barrelling down the hallway opposite the one you just came through. Only seconds later do you hear what sounds like a crowbar slamming against the wooden door to Fred's office three times in rapid succession. Your heart is now working overtime trying to guess what it could be.
  27. Another pot smashes against the hard tile floor of the kitchen, this one sounding less like an accident and more like it was thrown out of frustration. Suddenly, you're not so sure you want to go in there after all. Retreat isn't an option either; whatever the hell just shot past you mere seconds ago is still back in your room. Pinned between two possible threats, you use the thick carpet beneath you as a handhold to maneuver to the couch. Carefully, one fist at a time, you drag yourself over to the side of the overstuffed piece of furniture, yanking one of the cushions down to use as makeshift cover.
  29. A guttural snarl rips through the quiet of the night. Quick, light footsteps thump across the floor; your "friend" has now returned to the living room. You hunker down behind the cushion, tightening yourself into the smallest ball your body will allow as you struggle not to hyperventilate. Whoever's searching for you clearly seems to be enjoying the hunt; humming softly to himself as he prowls around the immediate area.
  31. "Dum de dum dum dum..."
  33. Voices gather around you, but it's impossible to tell what they're saying -- they sound muffled and distorted as if you were hearing them from deep underwater. Various objects are hurled across the room in fury as the hunter continues trying to locate his prey. You're not sure how you know he's looking for you, but you do.
  35. It's growing increasingly more obvious you won't be able to hide here for long. Your muscles begin to tense, your fists instinctively balling up. Everything about you right now is a hot mess of emotions -- you're scared, and even worse, angry. Backed into a corner, you've got no choice but to fight your way out, so you bide your time lying in wait for an opportunity to present itself.
  37. The sound of snorting grows louder; your stalker has now begun to track you by your scent. Considering the animal species in this world that you're up against, it won't be long before you're outed. What a time not to have one of your roommates around to help bail you out! You could sure use someone built like Freddy or Mr. Fazbear right about now. Unfortunately, it's just you against "him" -- whoever "he" might be. The realization that Chichi, Beanie, or any of the others could be bleeding out in the kitchen dawns on you, and your rage continues to boil.
  39. Something sharp and metallic hooks itself around your cushion, tugging it a few inches away from your face. A furry muzzle pokes in through the opening and begins sniffing at your face. Its lips twist upwards in a cruel smirk as the pillow covering you is pulled away. The second your cover's blown you burst into action, tackling your assailant with whatever element of surprise you've got left. Much to your satisfaction, he yelps in surprise as you bodyslam him with everything you have.
  41. Pinning him to the floor with your weight advantage, you muster all the air in your lungs to force noise through your throat. At first, you produce no sound; but after a few seconds of strained trying, a scream of pure rage finally lets loose from your mouth as you grab the monster by his fur. It's still jet-black in the living room, but you can at least make out a single glowing white eye and gleaming rows of teeth as you wail on him.
  43. "Mike!"
  45. Multiple hands forcibly grab you from behind, tugging you backwards off the monster. You're unable to deal with attackers from multiple sides, but nevertheless you stubbornly continue to cling to the beast's fur. He cries out in pain as the two of you are hoisted off the floor together, swinging his curved blade madly at your throat in an attempt to knock you loose.
  47. "Mike! Let go of him!"
  49. Your head feels like it's full of cotton as you jolt awake. Panting heavily, you realize you're tightly gripping Rackham by the fabric of his shirt. He's watching you with a mixture of amusement and confusion, his paw and hook pressed against your torso to keep you at a safe distance. Something tickles at your neck as you slowly release your hold on him.
  51. "What," you manage hoarsely. "What's -- what?" A pair of feathered wings wrap gently around your waist in a half-hug.
  53. "Mike, are you okay?" Chichi asks from behind you, slowly but firmly pulling you back and away from Rackham. All three of you are packed into Fred's tiny office, Chichi seated on the edge of your bed.
  55. "I'm fine," you croak as you stumble to your feet. "What's going, um..."
  57. "You were screaming your ass off," Rackham replies bluntly, straightening his creased shirt out. "We could hear you from across the house."
  59. "Was I?" you ask, still shaken from your nightmare. "God, I'm sorry. I had a really bad dream."
  61. "Yeah, no shit. You should have seen the look on your face!" he cackles. "If you thought you could take me in a fight, you really MUST'VE been dreaming."
  63. Chichi pats your shoulder. "Goodness, Mike. What were you dreaming about?"
  65. "Uh, some kind of monster was trying to kill me," you recount, the details already beginning to drift from your mind. "It had these huge jagged teeth and one glowing eye and this sort of -- it was like a hooked blade it was trying to cut my throat with."
  67. Rackham rolls his lone eye at you. "Sounds horrifying," he chuckles. "Let me guess, did it have red fur too?"
  69. Chichi brushes herself off as she stands up as well. "Now you behave, Foxy," she reprimands. "He's clearly been through a terrible ordeal. Mike, are you sure you're alright?"
  71. "I think so," you reply. "Man, guys, I'm really sorry for the trouble. Can we, uh, take this out into the living room instead? It's a bit cramped in here."
  73. "By all means," she chirps, leading Rackham out into the hallway by his hand. "Foxy, why don't we give him a moment to put himself together?"
  75. "Yeah, sure," he says, staring at you over his shoulder as he slowly follows her out.
  79. After taking a few moments to settle down and catch your breath, you change out of your pajama pants and into more appropriate daywear before staggering out into the common area. Checking the clock, it's a little past eleven AM; you've been home from your trip to Jeremy Human's for less than five hours.
  81. The room's sole occupant at the moment is Rackham who's currently engrossed in a televised poker championship, his feet kicked up on the coffee table. You nod to him as you pass by to tend to pressing concerns (chief among them being draining your bladder and filling your stomach). A hasty trip to the washroom solves the first of these two issues, but you haven't stayed here long enough to feel comfortable helping yourself to food from the kitchen.
  83. "Hey, Rackham?" Reluctantly, he pauses his show, jerking his head in your direction so he can see you better out of his good eye.
  85. "What?" he barks, just a little too loudly. You flinch in surprise, immediately raising a hand in defense. Despite the smirk on his face, his ears flatten against the top of his head, and he dips his muzzle ever so slightly in apology. "Still a little jumpy?"
  87. "I guess I am," you reply shakily. "Sorry." Even though you know it was just a nightmare, you're still alarmed by it. You've never really subscribed to the theory that dreams are meaningful, but if your subconscious is trying this hard to get a message across to you, you figure the least you can do is listen.
  89. "What do you need, Mike?" he asks a little more earnestly, setting his remote aside.
  91. You scratch the back of your head. "Is Beanie around?" You'd really appreciate the opportunity to talk to her now that you're both out of the restaurant.
  93. He shakes his head. "Nah. She went to bed about half an hour ago; rough night at the office."
  95. "I know. I was there," you mutter. "Have you eaten yet?"
  97. "Nope. Chica had actually just gotten back from a delivery when you started up and Fred's at work, so I figured I'd just wait to eat lunch."
  99. "Oh, alright," you reply. "What time do you guys usually eat?"
  101. Rackham glances at the clock. "Noon. Why, planning your next meal?" he smirks.
  103. "Actually, I was planning everyone's," you reply, indignant. "You guys have been kind enough to let me chill here. I can at least handle lunch."
  105. He starts to say something, but before he can get the words out, his stomach makes a loud growling noise. It's hard to tell based on the color of his fur, but you could swear he blushes a little.
  107. "Looks like my own gut betrays me," he sighs. "Alright. What'd you have in mind?"
  109. You consider your options. "Delivery? I'm not much of a cook, and I'm sure Chichi could use a break from the kitchen."
  111. "Sure. There's a bunch of menus in the drawer underneath the phone in Fred's office," he says, gesturing down the hall.
  113. "Got a hankering for anything in particular? Anyone have any, uh, food allergies or dietary restrictions I should know about?"
  115. "The only thing any of us are allergic to is Fred's cooking," he quips. "You're paying, so I say you pick."
  117. "Fair enough. I'll see what I can do, then," you reply, padding back towards the office.
  119. "Cool. Thanks, Mike."
  121. You pause halfway down the hall to your temporary room. "Sorry, what was that?" you ask teasingly.
  123. "You heard me. Don't let it go to your head," he says, reaching for the TV remote.
  125. "Funny, Beanie told me something similar about you," you return before slipping into Fred's office. You ease into the office chair at his desk, feeling a touch awkward as you do -- partially because of your nightmare, but also because you almost feel like a schoolkid snooping around in the principal's office while trying not to get caught. Sure enough, in one of the desk's drawers full of office supplies and stationery, you find a thick bundle of delivery menus and cards held together with a binder clip.
  127. "Alright, so we've got Chinese, Italian, seafood -- wait, who delivers seafood?!" You flip the menu in question over before setting it aside in disgust upon seeing the $100 minimum order. It's not like you're catering a garden party here or anything, you just want lunch. The next one in the stack looks familiar; after briefly examining it, you recognize the name of the Greek restaurant you ordered takeout from with Bonworth and Cheeky. Recalling it with a smile, you have to concede that Bonworth was right; they DID have tasty gyros.
  129. It's a little surprising how many restaurants in this area deliver -- even in some of the larger towns you've lived in, you're not used to having this much variety. Maybe Marion got them to make a special exception for the complex due to the complicated nature of some of its tenants?
  131. "Barbeque? Hoagies...?" You drag your hand down your face, exhaling in frustration. "What the hell should I order?"
  133. "Can't go wrong with the classics," a throaty voice rumbles from off to your side. Startled, you lean across the desk to see Fred standing out in the hall with his back to you. He's rummaging around in the closet, digging through a file cabinet.
  135. "Hey, Fred. Sorry, I didn't hear you come in," you greet. "I'm ordering in for lunch today, if that's alright. Any suggestions? I'm a bit, uh, overwhelmed here."
  137. "The gold standard of family cuisine," he replies absently. "Everyone loves pizza."
  139. You shrug, sifting through the menus until you find a pizza place that delivers. "Works for me." Satisfied you've got an option everybody can agree on (as well as having double-checked your funds to ensure you can pay for it), you pick the handset up off the desk and begin dialing.
  143. "Oof, bad beat," Rackham mumbles as the dealer flips over the river card. The poker celeb on television throws his sunglasses across the table in disgust before storming offstage to the amusement of the commentators.
  145. "Holy shit. Poor guy had thirty thou riding on that, too?" you gawk. "You'd think he wouldn't be that risky, if he's playing with that kind of money."
  147. "Thirty thousand is a pittance in serious play," he replies. "Besides, someone has to lose."
  149. "I'm probably nobody to judge; Bonworth rolled me in a game of poker recently. Turns out I suck at it."
  151. "Bonworth plays?" he asks, scratching his muzzle. "Huh. I wonder if I could get a game night going."
  153. "Maybe," you reply. "You'll have to pat him down for pocket cards, though. I didn't even notice that every one of his winning hands seemed to have the same ace slipped in."
  155. "Wait -- he plays AND he's a blatant cheat?" Rackham guffaws, tail wagging. "Oh man. I'm never gonna let Bonnie hear the end of that. Or you, for that matter."
  157. "Yeah, yeah. Say, you have history with Bonworth, right?" you ask. "Beanie mentioned you guys went to high school together."
  159. His face settles into an easy smile, and for once it seems genuine. "Oh yeah. He was such a dick when we were in our junior year, but I have to give it to him; he grew out of it fast enough once he fell in with the right crowd."
  161. "No kidding. He rubbed me raw at first, but once we got to know each other he definitely won me over," you admit. "I'd kind of like to do something else for him and the others since, well, I don't feel like a cake was enough."
  163. "That's on you, man," Rackham says. "I'm sure you'll figure something out."
  165. The sound of the front door unlocking draws your attention to the entryway. Rackham instantly tenses, sniffing fervently at the air before relaxing upon seeing Chichi trot into the living room, carrying a small parcel in her wings.
  167. "I'm back," she announces. "Are you feeling better after earlier, Mike?"
  169. You cringe a little at the unwelcome reminder. "Y-yeah, I've calmed down a little."
  171. Chichi nods in satisfaction. "That's good. Where's Bonnie?"
  173. "She already crashed," Rackham replies. "Went to lay down about an hour ago."
  175. "Oh, I see. Well, look who I ran into at the front desk," she says, opening the door wide with one of her feet. "Ta-dah!"
  177. The doorway's empty.
  179. "I know I'm down an eye, but is it just me or is nobody there?" Rackham asks, squinting at the doorstep.
  181. You lean past him to see if whoever's supposed to be there is just out of view. "It's not just you," you admit as Chichi's grin falters. Setting her box down on an end table, she quickly walks over to the door, poking her head out around the corner.
  183. "It's okay, you can come in," she quietly urges to someone standing just out of view.
  185. A short, plump bear timidly pokes his head around the corner before he shuffles into the foyer, a bashful smile playing at his lips. At first glance he seems unusually well-dressed, wearing a tuxedo coat and a tall stovepipe hat; upon closer inspection you realize his coat's been mended several times with patches and his hat's a felt costume piece that's sagging slightly in the middle.
  187. "Hi everybody," the bear squeaks by way of greeting. "Hello, Mike. Um, how're you today?"
  189. You blink a few times as you stand up, trying to place where you've seen this person before. "I'm good, thanks," you lie. "Err -- have we met before?"
  191. "We have, but I don't leave too much of -- I guess I'm not uh, really one for first impressions. It's me, Peanut," he says, blushing a little as he extends a paw. "We played those exercise video games together the other day?"
  193. "Oh! Oh, okay. Hi, Peanut," you grin, recalling the portly bear as you reach out to shake his hand. "No, I remember you well. I just didn't recognize you all dressed up; what's with the costume?"
  195. He titters nervously, retracting his already near-neckless head further into his oversized suit like some kind of strange turtle/bear hybrid.
  197. "Ah, uh, it's not a c-costume. These are my, um, my n-normal clothes." He self-consciously begins tugging the brim of his hat, almost like he's trying to pull it down over his eyes. "Oh, gosh. Do -- do I look, uh, weird? Ohh, oh geez..."
  199. "No, not at all," you insist as Rackham and Chichi both watch your face intently, as if they're daring you to screw up. "You look very, uh, dapper?"
  201. Both of them nod, seemingly satisfied with your assessment. Beaming, Peanut gently clicks the door shut behind himself as he trundles into the living room.
  203. "Oh, thanks! Mr. Fazbear says to dress for the job you want, not the one you have." So Peanut wants to be the Monopoly guy? "Of course, he also says not to violate any of the company dress code policies either, so I just wear my uniform at work."
  205. "Sound advice," you reply, nevertheless dubious. "So can I assume you work together with Fred at, uh, the restaurant?" For some reason you can't quite bring yourself to say its name out loud.
  207. Peanut nervously looks at Chichi and Rackham before turning back to you.
  209. "Um, sure. Today's my day off, but ordinarily I'm on day shift," he says. Well of course he is. At this point, you're just going to assume the entire apartment complex is one big Jeremy Human's victim support group.
  211. "I just clean, and, uh, wait tables mostly," Peanut continues. "I'm trying to work my way up to assistant manager, you know? Beats working nights. I had to fill in for night shift a couple times, and, oh gosh. That, um, that was kind of rough."
  213. "Yeah, no kidding. I got a firsthand taste of what you mean this morning," you reply, involuntarily shuddering at the thought of Jeremy cranking his music box with a manic grin. "I went downtown with Beanie last night and hung out with her during her shift. It was, uh -- eye-opening."
  215. "I'll bet," he agrees. "Man, Beanie's kind of like my hero. She's so cool, being able to go back night after night like that. I don't have the, um, the stomach for it."
  217. "You're a sensitive guy, Peanut," Chichi softly protests. "There's nothing wrong with that. We bloom where we're planted, and Bonnie just happens to be good at what she does."
  219. Peanut's blushing furiously as Chichi lifts his hat, ruffling his headfur. "Say, why don't you stay for lunch? I'll go fix us all something to eat."
  221. "Mike ordered lunch in while you were at the front desk, actually," Rackham interrupts.
  223. You check the large wall clock hanging above the television. "Yeah, the delivery guy said it'd be here by noon, so it shouldn't be too long now."
  225. "Oh! That was very nice of you, Mike!" Chichi says, clapping her wings appreciatively. A few of her golden feathers shake loose, scattering across the floor. "In that case, will you boys help me set the table?"
  227. "You got it," Rackham says, uncharacteristically cheerful as he jumps up to follow Chichi into the kitchen. All she needs is a leash and he'd look every bit like a loyal puppy following his master. You peek over at Peanut to see if he has a reaction, but he's too busy carefully hanging his coat and hat by the door.
  229. "So Mike, how did last night go?" Chichi asks, handing Rackham a stack of plates from one of the kitchen cabinets. "Was the ride-along everything you thought it'd be?"
  231. "Honestly, not at all. The whole thing was just surreal," you answer. "Is it really alright if I talk about it with you guys, though?"
  233. Chichi looks up from the fruit bowl she's in the process of searching through, one eyebrow raised. "Mike, I wouldn't have asked if you couldn't," she says, plucking a sizable orange from her collection.
  235. "Yeah, man," Rackham agrees, carrying the plates out to the dining room table. "Fred's out of the house, and he's the only one here that'd really care if you badmouth the company. I honestly don't give a shit."
  237. "Wait, you said Fred's still gone?" you interject. "I saw him just a little while ago when I was ordering food."
  239. He stops in his tracks, turning to look down the side hall. "Really? Did he get home early?"
  241. "No, Foxy, he's still out of the house," Chichi says. "I called him on my cell phone when I was up at the front desk speaking with Marion."
  243. You shake your head. "Great, I must be seeing things, then. I could have sworn he was rummaging through the hall closet while I was flipping through menus at his desk."
  245. Rackham and Chichi exchange looks with each other as if you aren't even standing there. "You, uh, absolutely sure about that, Mike?" Rackham asks.
  247. "At this point, I'm not sure of anything," you gripe.
  249. "Was it part of your dream?" Chichi asks softly. "I know he can be scary sometimes, but he really is a good, kindhearted bear."
  251. "I don't think so," you admit. "The thing in my dream looked more like, uh..." You trail off nervously as Rackham mutters to himself, resuming placing plates on the table.
  253. Speaking of kindhearted bears, Peanut steps into the kitchen having since finished shedding his accessories. With his ruffled dress shirt and black tie, all he needs is a towel draped over one arm and he'd look like a waiter at a fancy evening club.
  255. "How can I help, Chichi?" he asks.
  257. "Oh, if you could get some cutlery out of the drawer that'd be wonderful. Boys, do you want fruit punch or lemonade?" she asks, deftly slicing the juicy orange into thin medallions with practiced ease.
  259. "Fruit punch!" Rackham hollers from the dining room, perking up. "Ooh, and some crushed ice!"
  261. "Sounds like you've got a decisive answer there," you chuckle, rubbing the back of your head. "Hope you like fruit punch, Peanut."
  263. "Aw, I'm good with anything," he smiles as he begins neatly rolling bundles of silverware into napkins with practiced ease.
  265. "Mike, can you fill this bowl with crushed ice from the freezer while I get started on the fruit punch mix?" Chichi asks. "Oh, and we got kind of sidetracked; you were going to talk about last night?"
  267. You nod, pressing the ice bowl against the spout on the freezer door. The ice maker rumbles to life, spraying chipped ice into the bowl. "Honestly, it's not at all what I was expecting," you manage. "I just thought Beanie was like a normal security guard, making the rounds with a flashlight and hanging out in a guard shack most of the evening."
  269. "Oh wow," Peanut replies, carrying an armful of wrapped cutlery out to the dining room. "So you, um, didn't know about the..."
  271. "The animatrons came as a surprise," you nod. "A very unpleasant one."
  273. Rackham laughs, but it's sympathetic rather than mocking. "Yeah, they're kind of shit. I don't get Bonbon's obsession with them at all; humans suck ass."
  275. "They ARE pretty scary," Peanut agrees. "I know the ones at Jeremy's are just robots, but honestly, if real humans are like that, I -- I don't think I'd ever want to meet one."
  277. "Well, good thing they're just make-believe. Bonbon'll just have to make do with schtupping a shaved monkey," Rackham says. "Uh, no offense, Mike."
  279. You fumble the bowl slightly, spilling some ice onto the floor. The truth is you're NOT bothered in the slightest, and that worries you; nevertheless, if those horrible machines at the arcade are all they have to go off of, then you can absolutely understand why they'd hate the very concept of humanity.
  281. "Like I said, I'm not even sure any of it was real. I'm having a hard time just, uh, wrapping my mind around everything that happened last night; it played out like some kind of weird game, almost." Setting the bowl down on the counter next to Chichi, you grab a paper towel and kneel to clean up the water puddles on the floor where the chipped ice has already begun to melt.
  283. "We had these, um, plastic masks; they were like carnival prizes. I think Beanie said they came from the toy counter where you give them your tickets," you continue. "If we wore the masks, the robots -- sorry, animatronics -- went away. Except for one of them; he wasn't fooled."
  285. "Darky," Peanut confirms. "Beanie warned me about him. He's scarier than he lets on."
  287. You clench the paper towel in your hands. "Aren't they all," you mumble under your breath. You aren't sure whether to be relieved or terrified that he's so easily confirming the events of last night; your nerves decide to split the difference between both.
  289. "Mike, why don't you sit down?" Chichi asks, sensing your agitation.
  291. "No, it's -- it's okay. This is helping, I think," you insist, tossing the crumpled paper towel into the trash. Your palms have red marks from where your fingernails have been digging into them for the last half-minute or so. "Anyway, the big guy himself finally showed his ugly face at the end of her shift. Beanie and I had to stand perfectly still while he cranked this crazy, uh, music box kind of thing for what seemed like forever. I guess we stalled him out, and he left."
  293. "Wow," Rackham replies, visibly awed. "No wonder Beanie crashed. She's only had that happen once, and she had to call in sick because she couldn't sleep for almost two straight days."
  295. "I remember that," Peanut says. "That's when I, uh, really started to look up to her. Most people who see Jeremy don't, um -- well, they don't really make it..." He trails off abruptly.
  297. "So then it all was real," you breathe. "How many 'accidents' have happened because of the animatronics themselves?"
  299. Chichi places a soft wing on your shoulder, shaking her head. "A lot, Mike," she quietly answers. At a loss for words, you simply nod, leaning against the kitchen counter to let this information sink in.
  301. Eventually, the calm is broken by the sound of a doorbell echoing throughout the house. Grateful for the diversion, you pull your wallet from your pocket and head for the door.
  303. "Lunch is ready," you announce with stilted enthusiasm.
  307. Chichi trots into the dining room with a large glass pitcher filled with punch, crushed ice and sliced fruit.
  309. "I didn't know what everyone liked on their pizza, so I just kind of got a variety," you announce as you set the stack of pizza boxes down at the center of the kitchen table. You take your seat next to everyone as Chichi begins pouring drinks for everybody at the table.
  311. "Pizza, huh," Rackham comments, face unreadable. Nobody seems interested in making the first move towards the food.
  313. "Are we waiting for someone?" you ask, taking a quick head count at the table; Peanut, Chichi, Rackham and yourself makes four, and you've got more than enough pizza to feed everyone here and still have plenty of leftovers. Fred's nowhere to be seen, much to your chagrin. Considering this was his suggestion for lunch, you're mildly alarmed that nobody seems the least bit excited about it.
  315. Is this his idea of a joke? Did he set you up just to mess with you, or was he being sarcastic and you just couldn't tell?
  317. "No," Chichi says, taking a seat next to you. "Not that I'm aware of, anyway. Lunch looks wonderful, Mike; thank you again." Her smile's just a touch forced as she pops open the topmost pizza box.
  319. "Yeah, thanks Mike," Peanut adds as he sips his punch, taking great care not to spill it on himself. "I appreciate you guys letting me come over, y'know?"
  321. "It's just pizza," you reply, taking the first slice of whatever's on top. "It's not that big of a deal." Apparently. Despite the fact it burned through most of your remaining money. You make a mental note to be much more stingy with your finances starting next month.
  323. As everyone slowly begins to pick at their food, the front door opens. Fred walks inside, gently scuffing his feet at the doormat before plodding into the living room.
  325. "Oh, good afternoon, Peanut," he says, nodding to everyone at the table. "Ah! We're having pizza?"
  327. "Your idea, wasn't it?" you reply pointedly as he takes a seat at the table, placing his hat off to the side. Fred gives you a quizzical look as he opens up the pizza box, helping himself to several slices.
  329. "Not that I'm aware of," he says with a furrowed brow, tearing open a packet of pepper seeds. "Chica, why didn't you say you wanted pizza earlier when we were on the phone? I'd have brought some home from work. You really have to have it there, though; it doesn't travel as well from downtown."
  331. You look at the others with an are-you-seeing-this-shit expression; they don't even seem to notice you.
  333. "Mike treated us," Chichi responds pleasantly.
  335. "Is that so. In that case, thank you for lunch, Mike," Fred says, nodding in your direction. You shrug apathetically.
  337. "How are you today, Mr. Fazbear?" Peanut asks, reaching across the table for a handshake. Fred grips his paw, nodding politely to him.
  339. "I'm well, thank you. How about you, enjoying a much-deserved day off?"
  341. "I am, sir!" Peanut replies bashfully. "Well, two days off anyway; the store's closed tomorrow so that the paint in the prize room can be touched up." With the ice seemingly broken, the younger bear reaches for another slice of pizza, emptying the box out. One down, three to go.
  343. Fred nods, dabbing sauce from his paw with his napkin. "Good to hear. You know, word is management seems really impressed with the job you've been doing; I imagine you're on the fast-track to assistant manager. Don't be surprised if you get a pay bump and a new title before summer."
  345. "Aw, gee," Peanut stammers, blushing as he fumbles nervously with his food.
  347. "Wow, dude, this IS really good. I sure love pizza!" Rackham says, finishing his slice and going in for another. You lean back in your chair, still chewing through your first piece disinterestedly.
  349. "You don't have to fake it, man," you reply suddenly before you can stop yourself. "I'm not offended."
  351. "Huh?" he asks, a slice of supreme hanging from his hook. "What'd you say?"
  353. You set your half-eaten slice down on your plate, wiping your mouth on the back of your hand. Fred cuts his eyes at your table manners, and even Peanut looks slightly appalled.
  355. "I mean you guys don't have to pretend you like it. It's fine, I was fed some bad info is all," you return, glaring back at Fred who's resumed eating, seemingly oblivious to your presence.
  357. To your surprise, Chichi bursts out laughing, wiping a tear from her eye. "Aha! Hah, wow! Are you for real, Mike?" she asks, grinning widely. "You've got it all backwards; this family was pretty much BUILT on pizza."
  359. "Yeah, dude. We used to eat this shit by the truckload," Rackham says. "This is nothing compared to Jeremy's, but it's still damned tasty pizza. I guess we're all just a little nostalgic for the REALLY good stuff. They've got the best stuffed crust."
  361. "And our buffet really can't be matched," Fred adds with pride. "We're working on a new recipe for the breadsticks, though."
  363. "It's about time," Chichi says. "I know you guys have corporate rules and all, but I have no idea how a pizzeria can put out some of the best pizza I've had in my life -- recipes I'd kill to have -- and yet they ruin the breadsticks? Come on!"
  365. "Your bias is showing, Chica," Rackham grins. "Leave it to the best baker in town to spot something with the bread."
  367. "You don't have to be a baker; those things taste like modeling compound and we all know it," she insists, stacking six more slices onto her plate. You stare at the rapidly diminishing pizza in shock -- the pepperoni's already gone and the supreme's not far behind. Somehow you've gone from imagining you'd have too much in the way of leftovers to wondering if you'll even get to have a second slice.
  369. "Our dessert pizza sales are up thirty-five percent from last month," Peanut chimes in. "That was a really good idea to start having the restaurant carry those. Apple cinnamon's our best flavor, but pumpkin pie's close behind."
  371. "Pumpkin pie pizza," Chichi echoes. "I have no idea how you came up with that one, Mr. Fazbear."
  373. Shrugging, the elder bear flips open the next box lid. You furtively dart your hand towards another slice as soon as it cracks open, drawing a funny look from him. "Just watching market trends," Fred says. "You must really like Hawaiian, Mike."
  375. "What can I say?" you grimace, your face souring as you bite into a chunk of pineapple. "So, uh, market trends? Like what, noticing what customers buy?"
  377. "Basic economics," he chuckles. "Figure out what your clients want first, and then sort all the details out from there. You can't sell what nobody's willing to purchase. Like Hawaiian pizza, for instance."
  379. "Har har." You make a point of finishing the offending piece just to spite him. "You know, I got the impression it was really more of an arcade first and a restaurant second."
  381. "Not even close. We brought the video games in just to keep customers in the store longer, but our bread and butter is and has always been pizza sales. Isn't that right, Peanut?"
  383. "Yes sir," Peanut says. "'Ignore the sign,' you always say. 'We're a family pizzeria first and foremost.'"
  385. Fred nods proudly. "See?"
  387. Conversation drifts from pizza sales to all sorts of topics such as Chichi filling her roommates in on the details of her newest baking creation and Peanut elaborating on home life. You tune out halfway through the discussion, though you are pleased to see that the mood of the room's lifted substantially from the initial aversion to what you ordered. You tuck away the info about pizza being something of an issue for later, wondering why you didn't draw that connection in your mind after visiting Jeremy's in person. After the awkwardness of this morning's rude awakening as well as the circumstances that brought you to this apartment in the first place, you really don't want to be making any major social gaffes.
  391. Between Chichi's voracious appetite as well as the fact you're feeding two adult male bears, you and Rackham manage to get away with just two slices each (including the pineapple abomination you had to choke down) before the remaining pizza is obliterated. No wonder they haven't had it in a while -- they probably can't afford to keep everyone fed on a welfare budget. This is less like lunch and more like a between-meals snack.
  393. After everyone's finished eating, Peanut sticks around a little while longer to watch television with Rackham while Chichi and Fred excuse themselves to get back to their respective jobs. You finish clearing the table before deciding you could really use a breath of fresh air. You grab your coat from the rack in the foyer, stepping outside onto the porch to bask in the November chill. Sidling over to the base of the staircase leading up to the second floor, you plop down on one of the steps. Closing your eyes, you breathe deeply, letting the cold air wash over you to calm your troubled mind.
  395. You're not sure of how long has passed when the sound of gentle footsteps stirs you from your meditative state.
  397. "Hey, stranger."
  399. Opening your eyes, Cheeky stares down at you, grinning coyly. This is about the most put-together she's ever been in your presence; her makeup is neater than usual and she's bundled up in a light jacket and sweatpants.
  401. "Hey, Cheeky," you grin back, genuinely glad to see her. "Heading somewhere?"
  403. "I'll be gone till late, yeah. Gotta head to the pharmacy and then take care of some business at the county courthouse," she says, nudging you over a little so she can sit next to you. "Oh, that cake was great, by the way. Even Faz was impressed."
  405. "Aw, thanks. I'm glad you guys liked it, it was a lot of fun to make."
  407. Sitting next to Cheeky makes you realize that even though it's only been a couple of days, you really do miss your friends upstairs. Despite the sterile, bleak environment; it was warmer and cozier in its own way than the place you're currently occupying. You bite your tongue to keep from asking to move back in; you know it wouldn't be appropriate and you'd just end up looking crazier than you already do, but some small part of you desperately misses familiar territory after your grueling overnight stay at Jeremy Human's.
  409. Almost as if she's reading your mind, Cheeky wraps a wing around your shoulders. "So how're you doing? We're missing your cooking already; bird cannot live on microwave meatloaf alone," she chuckles.
  411. You swallow back a lump that's growing in the back of your throat, shoving the question you want to beg of her out of your mind, replacing it with benign commentary instead.
  413. "I, uh, I guess I'm doing alright," you lie for the second time today. "How're you guys? How's everyone back ho-- upstairs?"
  415. If she notices your slip, she keeps it to herself. "Bonnie's fine, tired from work. Foxy's doing okay, I guess."
  417. "How about Faz?" you ask.
  419. "Faz is doing well, aside from being kinda mopey. It's Faz, though, so it's hard to tell when he's up and when he's down," she says. "He kind of keeps to himself."
  421. You nod, rubbing your hands together a little because of the cold -- pretty soon you'll be needing gloves too. "And how's Cheeky doing?"
  423. "Heh." She ruffles her headfeathers with her free wing. "Tired, achy, horny; the usual. I'll manage."
  425. Tired, achy -- a sudden brilliant idea hits you. You stifle laughter, feeling dumb for not having thought of this sooner.
  427. "You know, I could help with two of those things," you declare. She looks at you with a smirk.
  429. "Don't tease me like that," she says. "I'll hold you to it, and you know it."
  431. You grin. "I have a friend who owes me a favor," you reply. "I'll put in a message later today."
  433. "Is your friend a gigolo?" Cheeky asks, eyes lighting up. "Oh, Mike! Just what I wanted and it's not EVEN my birthday!"
  435. You laugh, gently shaking your head. "Not quite, I'm afraid. Besides, why would I know a gigolo anyway?"
  437. She feigns hurt, pressing the back of her wing to her forehead in a melodramatic feint. "Damn it, Mike! There you go, getting my hopes up and shooting them to pieces."
  439. "Hah! Sorry to be a disappointment, but trust me on this one. So what's up with Faz? You said he's kind of mopey -- something I can help with?"
  441. "Y'know, I'm not really sure," Cheeky admits. "He's been sitting around the apartment, being a bit more withdrawn than usual." The normally taciturn Faz being even more quiet than usual doesn't sound like a good combination.
  443. "Well, I know this is kind of weird and short notice, but do you think we could do a guys' night out tonight?" you inquire. "Bonworth, Foxy, Faz, and me, I mean?"
  445. She narrows her eyes. "What, I'm not one of the guys?" she pouts. "Come on, Mike, don't gender discriminate against me here. I can pee standing up if you need me to prove it."
  447. "Aaaand too much information," you groan as she cracks up laughing. "Honestly, I hate to admit this, but the last 24 hours have been kind of an emotional roller-coaster for me. I could use a drink, and maybe the others could handle getting out of the house for a bit."
  449. Cheeky's expression softens slightly as she realizes what you're saying. "Everything okay, Mike? Did something happen?"
  451. You look at her wordlessly. She reads your face for several long seconds, and you notice something in her countenance shift almost imperceptibly.
  453. "Alright," she finally says at length. "Yeah, of course. I'm sure they'd love to get out of the house for the night. What time do you want to head out?"
  455. "Early evening," you reply. "Maybe around five or so, or whenever Bonworth gets off -- early enough that we're not out all night if possible."
  457. "Sounds good," she says. "You got a place in mind?"
  459. You shake your head, still unsure of the area apart from the few trips you've made outside of the fold while in the company of others. "Figured we'd just find someplace comfortable and toss a few drinks back. Maybe a sports bar or something, doesn't have to be fancy. I just need to take the edge off for a bit."
  461. She nods, patting your shoulder. "Okay, Mike. I'll swing by the front desk and let Bonworth know on my way out."
  463. "Thanks, Cheeky," you murmur. "I'll see you later tonight, then?"
  465. "Maybe," she grins, perking back up. "I'm curious to see what this big secret surprise of yours is. It'd better be more cake."
  467. "Oh, it's something so much better than cake," you reply as she gets up from the stairs. Standing up after her, you wave to Cheeky as she trundles off toward the front of the apartment complex.
  469. Time to pay 87-B a visit.
  473. "That's about it, really," you finish, waving to Freddy from outside on the porch. He waves back with a smile, cradling a passed-out Bonnibel in only one of his enormous arms.
  475. "Awww! That's so sweet of you to do that for her, Mike," Chiclet coos, grinning. "I'll let Mangle know. You sure you don't mind?"
  477. You shake your head. "Nope. It's not that I don't appreciate new clothes or anything like that, but this is a way more worthy cause. Tell Mangle I said everything'll be square between us."
  479. Chiclet yawns. "You got it. Hey, you coming in for lunch?"
  481. "Oh, no, that's okay -- we just ate," you reply. "Thanks though. Tell everyone I said hi."
  483. "Same. Take care, Mike."
  485. With that chore crossed off your list, you jog down Building 8's steps, heading back across the street to get ready for tonight. It'll be nice to have a quiet, relaxing evening out together with some friends.
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