Roommates - Ch. 19 (Blood in the Water)

Jan 19th, 2016
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  1. Roommates has moved! You can now read it at Archive of Our Own:
  3. Roommates - Ch. 19 (Blood in the Water):
  4. Inspired by Weaver's Five Nights at Freddy's Apartment AU:
  5. Part of an ongoing series written for the /5N@F/ General Discussion Thread at /vg/.
  6. Sincerest thanks to Weaver ( for all of the invaluable assistance in writing, proofreading, and editing this story as well as for illustrating the chapter title cards.
  7. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at
  9. ---
  11. It's six when you wake from your slumber once more. Seems Foxy's still asleep. You shift to a sitting position and stare at the rise and fall of his chest for a while, contemplating last night's conversation with him.
  13. Rocked to sleep by the world itself, huh.
  15. You've never heard Foxy tell a coherent story, let alone two back-to-back. If there's anything you gleaned from his lucid moment last night, it's that his love of the sea isn't just a childlike infatuation.
  17. Your gaze drifts to the pirate "treasures" scattered around his room, many of which are just toys that appear to be of no better quality than the sort of cheap, poorly-made prizes one would receive at an amusement park or carnival. Perhaps for the first time, you realize that it's not at all the same as how some little kids are into race cars and others are all about fire trucks. The pirate thing isn't just Foxy's infantile bedroom decor, it's who he is.
  19. Who he was.
  21. There's still just so much you don't know about the inhabitants of this apartment complex, but you're beginning to realize that everyone you meet probably has a story of their own to tell, some far more tragic than others. Thinking back to your own apartment, their plight seems trivial when compared to looming monsters like cancer, brain damage, and ruptured lungs. And yet somehow, YOUR own situation seems like nothing when compared to Chiclet's or even Mangle's, let alone anyone here.
  23. Still, it's not too late to help turn things around. You finally feel like you've got a purpose. Clearly, fate has brought you into the lives of these bizarre animal people to make a difference.
  25. Somberly, you slowly make your way out of Foxy's bedroom, moving quietly so that you don't wake him as you head into the hall bath to begin your morning routine. After cleaning yourself up, you immediately head for the kitchen to begin prepping breakfast. You figure you'll start small and work your way up. Once everybody's been fed, then you can see about tackling the day's bigger issues.
  27. As you click the kitchen light on, you notice that Cheeky's up considerably early, which seems somewhat unlike her. She stirs from the sofa as you flood the house with ambient light.
  29. "Morning," you call out softly. "How you doing?"
  31. "Oh, hey, Mike," she says, rubbing her baggy eyes. "Didn't get much sleep last night."
  33. "No? You weren't feeling well, or...?"
  35. She slowly ambles into the kitchen. "Nah. Stomach pains all night. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't seem to get comfortable."
  37. "Hell, that sounds miserable. I'm sorry to hear it," you reply, gently hugging her. "Anything I can do?"
  39. Cheeky shakes her head, leaning her weight against you. "You're doin' it."
  41. With a nod, you begin gently rubbing her shoulders. She slumps into your arms, almost purring.
  43. "Wow, that feels good. Don't stop," she instructs. "But also, you know, make me some pancakes or somethin' too. You look like a multitasker."
  45. You laugh. "Yeah, not unless you want to be cleaning pancake batter out of your feathers. I'm not even close to that level of coordinated."
  47. "Aw, darn. And you were so close to the perfect man, too," Cheeky says, stretching.
  49. "Hardly," you scoff, opening the cabinets to begin breakfast prep.
  51. Rather than retreating back to the living room, Cheeky lingers in the kitchen for a while, half-propping herself on the island to watch you work. You quietly whisk the pancake batter, letting your mind wander back to last night, and before you even realize it, you find yourself talking aloud.
  53. "Foxy told me a story last night."
  55. Cheeky sleepily rolls one of the uncracked eggs back and forth on the counter.
  57. "He does love to tell his pirate stories," she yawns. "Well, he tries, anyway. Most of the time they don't make any sense, but you know, we humor him."
  59. Pouring the batter onto the griddle, you shake your head.
  61. "This one was different. He was really lucid. None of the pirate stuff, no silly voices, no banter."
  63. Her interest visibly piques as the egg nearly rolls off the counter. You deftly catch it before it can hit the floor, placing it back in the glass bowl it came from.
  65. "Lucid, huh? That's really, really rare for him. Usually he's kind of like he was at dinner last night -- struggling, y'know, fighting just to get a sentence across. What'd he say?"
  67. "It wasn't really a story so much as, um... kind of like a memory, now that I think about it. He told me about his first time at sea," you answer. "He told me about the little merchant boat he was on, and the tiny little cabin with the foam mattresses and the thin blankets. He talked a lot about the smell of the sea salt in the air, and the waves, and how it felt like he was being rocked to sleep."
  69. She stares at you, her expression unreadable.
  71. "And he told me that he thought it might be nice to d-- to pass away like that," you reply. You wipe your eyes on the back of your shirt sleeve, turning away from her to flip the pancakes over on the griddle. After a second, you sniff and give her a lopsided smile. "Yeah, I know. It's probably one you've heard a million times before, but the way he told it, his mannerisms, his demeanor -- it was really heavy, honest stuff."
  73. You fumble with the spatula, feeling very self-conscious for having blurted out the details of such an intimate moment.
  75. "I, uh... I could tell it was just a really good memory for him. He, he really loves the water, huh?"
  77. Cheeky swallows audibly as she brings herself to standing.
  79. "Foxy's never been to sea," she finally says, her tone wary.
  81. "What are you talking about?" you ask, incredulous. "He told me he absolutely HAD been, clear as a bell. He described it all in painstaking detail. Believe me, it wasn't just one of his rants."
  83. She gently takes the spatula from your hand and slides the pancakes off the griddle before they burn to a crisp.
  85. "Mike, Foxy's from Idaho. I don't think he's ever gone on so much as a fishing trip, let alone out to sea. Hell, I'm like 99% positive he's never even been on a real boat."
  87. Your jaw hangs loose.
  89. "It's a nice story, Mike, and I really wish I could have been there to hear it, but it's just that -- a story." She scoops another glob of batter onto the griddle, pressing the spatula back into your hands. "Nothing more."
  91. "Cheeky, I don't -- look, this was none of his, his weird pirate stuff, okay? And believe me, I can tell the difference. He'd just come off of some outlandish tale about running cargo for a black-eyed demon, and sharks smelling blood in the water," you sputter.
  93. "Oh, that one I HAVE heard a million times, and it's not all that outlandish," she murmurs with a half-hearted smile.
  95. You roll your eyes. "C'mon. Be serious, Cheeky."
  97. She draws a sharp breath, rubbing her belly with a wince. "I am. I remember when it happened."
  99. It's your turn to stare at her in wary confusion. "What?"
  101. "Bonnie's known him the longest out of all of us, so only he'd really know for sure if Foxy's telling the truth about going to sea or not," she says, changing the subject. "I mean, yeah, sure. Maybe the story's 'real' in that Foxy could be remembering something that was related to him, like maybe by a relative or a friend that was in the Navy or something. Maybe something he read as a kid, or saw on TV. Or maybe he just imagined it enough that he convinced himself."
  103. Deflated, you turn your attention back to the griddle.
  105. "It just -- it seemed so real. I find it hard to believe he made the whole thing up."
  107. Cheeky plucks one of the half-burnt pancakes off the stack, sniffs it, and begins chewing it dry.
  109. "Well -- I believe it was real to him."
  113. "Another aces breakfast, Mike," Bonworth says, looking around the room anxiously.
  115. It's probably the third or fourth time he's attempted to make small talk, but between Cheeky being exhausted and you being in a funk, neither of you are much for conversation at the moment.
  117. "Should probably go and see if Faz is ready to get up," you mumble. "Foxy too, I guess. He was still asleep when I woke up."
  119. "His schedule does tend to be on the erratic side," Bonworth adds.
  121. Cheeky pushes her empty plate onto the armrest of her chair before flopping her head in Bonworth's general direction.
  123. "Bon."
  125. He sips at his coffee. "Yes ma'am?"
  127. "Has Foxy ever been on the water, you know, like out to sea?"
  129. Bonworth crinkles his nose a little. He sets his coffee mug on the empty portion of his plate and shifts to look at her.
  131. "You know he ain't been, Chica," he says, tugging at one of his ears. "He always wanted to go sailin', before -- y'know. Why do you ask?"
  133. "Because of something Foxy said to me last night," you interject, sounding a bit more moody than you intended and immediately regretting it. You offer Bonworth the most sincere-looking smile you can muster at this point in time, which probably comes off as more of a smirk than anything else. "Ah, don't worry about it. It's not important."
  135. "Another one of his pirate yarns?" he asks, buttoning up his waistcoat.
  137. "Something like that."
  139. Bonworth moves to collect the plates, but you quickly gather them before he can get out of his chair. He exchanges a glance with Cheeky, who raises an eyebrow but remains quiet.
  141. "Listen, Mike, I just want to let you know we really appreciate everything you've been doing around here, what with you slaving away over the stove, taking care of Faz and Foxy and just -- well, just everything, I guess."
  143. "It's not a problem," you insist, loading the dishwasher. "So, uh -- what time do you have to head to the front desk today?"
  145. Bonworth gratefully pulls a memo pad from his pocket and begins writing down a list of things for you to do.
  147. "Earlier than yesterday, I'm afraid," he answers. "I hate to leave you with another heapin' helpin' of chores, but Marion's got a lot of work that needs to be done. Are you sure I'm not puttin' too much off on ya, pal?"
  149. You enthusiastically shake your head. "Absolutely not -- however I can help out. Makes me feel good about myself knowing that I'm being useful."
  151. "Man, Chica, we coulda used a guy like this in management!" Bonworth chuckles. "You're a real go-getter, Mike."
  153. "Oh yeah? What did you do, before your, uh..." Your face falls a little. "I'm sorry, that was probably insensitive, wasn't it?"
  155. Bonworth shrugs, tearing the note off the page. "Why's it insensitive? Can't pretend like it didn't happen. Besides, look on the bright side, I've never lost so much weight so fast!" he responds with an awkward grin, rapping his completely metallic leg with his mostly metallic paw. "But to answer your question, I was in foodservice. Started as a busboy, worked my way up to assistant manager."
  157. Thinking back to your conversation outside the other day, something occurs to you.
  159. "Wait, you and Foxy worked together, right? How did he get hurt if it wasn't the safe?"
  161. Bonworth cringes, hesitating halfway through handing you the chore list, the note crumpling involuntarily in his oversized paw.
  163. "Too much blood in the water," he murmurs, his tone low and devoid of his usual pep. After a few seconds, he glances up, snapping back to the present. "Ah, sorry. Well, we worked at a place that tried to offer -- let's call it dinner and a show? A little food, a little entertainment. You know, for kids."
  165. "Right," you reply.
  167. "A lot of the equipment we had to work with was a mite temperamental."
  169. "Oh please! 'Temperamental'? You've been off the clock long enough, you can stop using the handbook's terms!" Cheeky snaps hotly. "Half that shit needed to be condemned, and I would know -- I was the one that did most of the maintenance work on it!"
  171. "N-now Chica," Bonworth says, wagging a finger and attempting to assume an air of authority, "we've talked about this. Could you please cool it with the profanity?"
  173. "Yeah, whatever," she huffs, hackles quite literally raised.
  175. Blood in the water, huh. Where've you heard that one before?
  177. "So the three of you worked together, then?" you ask.
  179. "Yes and no," Cheeky says, smoothing her ruffled feathers back into place. "Technically, I wasn't an employee at the restaurant proper, but I was employed as a mechanic, trained by corporate to do maintenance for various locations. I got to travel a lot, so that was cool, I guess."
  181. "But she WAS sort-of a regular at the restaurant, and so was Faz," Bonworth clarifies.
  183. "No kidding!" you reply. "Small world, huh."
  185. "You ain't kidding, pal," he laughs. "That's why I was real keen when we were all able to, y'know -- be together, here. One big happy family."
  187. "So actually the four of you have history then," you reply. "That's pretty cool, I guess. Makes sense why Marion put you all together. Better than moving in with complete strangers, right?"
  189. "Aw, complete strangers aren't that bad, Mike! I mean, we got you, didn't we?" Bonworth says with a lopsided grin.
  191. You chuckle. "Hey, I could be a complete whacko."
  193. Side-eyeing you, Cheeky snorts. "Well, if you're a crazy psycho-killer, at least I'll die with a stomach full of fresh pancakes."
  195. Finishing up in the kitchen, you wipe your hands on a towel and head back to the living room.
  197. "So what'd Faz do, if you don't mind me asking? Was he a mechanic as well? He mentioned his accident had something to do with a machine of some kind and now that I think on it, he used the term 'temperamental' as well."
  199. Bonworth and Cheeky exchange uneasy glances.
  201. "Faz was kind of a jack-of-all-trades, but he had a showman's heart," Bonworth says, somewhat guardedly. "We'd do stage shows, kinda. For the kids, singing and dancing. I used to play the banjo, Faz would sing."
  203. You give him an approving grin. "Banjo, huh? Somehow I don't have any trouble seeing it."
  205. His eyes light up a little. "Yeah, I was a real 'picker' back in the day! Course, my fingers just aren't what they used to be. I can still play, just gotta do it slower."
  207. "Yeah, I used to sing too whenever I'd stop by," Cheeky says softly. "Every now and again we'd all hop up on the stage and just kinda putz around, singing oldies, show tunes... just whatever came to mind."
  209. "The little ones loved it," Bonworth mumbles. "And I think we did too, more'n we care to admit."
  211. "Yeah, for sure. Good times," Cheeky says, her tone bittersweet.
  213. "That's an awful shame that Faz lost his voice, and... well, everything else," you add softly. "For a singer I imagine that has to be just, you know, like your own personal hell, I guess."
  215. Neither Cheeky nor Bonworth bite at your conversation hook, both looking more than a little uncomfortable. You decide that it's probably best to change the subject.
  217. "As long as I'm prying, I gotta ask. Cheeky, did you work with Chiclet? I noticed a picture of her while I was over at the other apartment. She was dressed up in coveralls, I think. Oh, and she had a tool kit. Looked like she was at an arcade."
  219. "Nah, just a coincidence." Cheeky scratches her stomach. "To tell the truth, I don't actually know Chiclet very well. She keeps kinda to her own brood over there. You'd be surprised to find out we're not the social butterflies we pretend to be."
  221. Seemingly just now remembering the list -- or perhaps looking for an out -- Bonworth foists the crumpled paper into your hand.
  223. "Sorry about the, um... if you need me to write you out a new one on account of my smudged writin', I can," he says.
  225. "Nah, it can't be worse than any of my own chicken scratches," you mutter.
  227. "Chicken scratches?!" Cheeky raises an eyebrow. "What's THAT supposed to mean?"
  229. "Err -- sorry, slip of the tongue," you hastily amend. "So basically same stuff as yesterday, Bonworth?"
  231. "You bet! I'll see if I can't cut out a little early today so you don't have to take care of everything by yourself, Mike," Bonworth replies as he heads for the front door.
  233. "It's all good," you affirm. "Go be a hero, Bonworth. We've got the fort held down here."
  235. "Aw, shucks. I surely do appreciate it," he says. "Guess I'll see you fellas later!"
  239. You've never been much of one for procrastination, so after Bonworth leaves for the morning, you start knocking out the chore list. You begin by waking the others to get their own morning routine started; after a brief internal debate, you decide you might as well start with Foxy.
  241. On the upside, Foxy does seem like he's doing a lot better this morning than he was at dinner last night, but on the downside all traces of his lucidity are gone. Most of his replies to you are just grunts or one-word dismissals, so you help him get cleaned up and then placate him with some breakfast.
  243. After helping a sleepy Faz into the shower, and then cleaning and rebandaging his wounds once he's out, you give him his morning medications, a bear-sized mug of coffee, and the remainder of the leftovers from breakfast -- which turns out to be a fairly sizable plate of food. With a grateful nod, he begins eating as Cheeky tunes into the morning news for him.
  245. Bonworth's list is much the same as yesterday's with a handful of trivial additions -- mostly some minor household concerns such as taking care of laundry, changing linens, and cleaning the bathroom. Working diligently, you have everything on the list (apart from time-sensitive medications) knocked out shortly before eleven.
  247. After checking up on everybody again, you decide to take advantage of your free time and head outside for some fresh air. If what you keep hearing about last year's "big freeze" is true, you're not sure you'll be able to go out much when winter's in full force. Might as well get while the getting is good.
  249. "I'm gonna step out for a bit," you tell Cheeky, slipping your coat on. "Just going to clear my head and stretch my legs."
  251. "Oh, all right," she says. "Don't be too long. I'm lookin' forward to lunch."
  253. "Aye," Foxy pipes up. "Flapjacks an' cold cereal can only carry a rugged sailin' man so many scores and seven years ago."
  255. "Lunchtime already?" you joke. "Didn't I just make you guys breakfast only four hours ago? Don't tell me you expect to eat twice in one day!"
  257. Cheeky playfully narrows her eyes, resting her wings on her ample hips.
  259. "You know what they say about what happens to someone who messes with a hungry hen, right, Mike?"
  261. You pause halfway through buttoning up your coat. "Can't say I do, Cheeky."
  263. She makes a show of licking her beak, and for once, it's not in a seductive manner.
  265. "Of course you haven't. That's because nobody survives long enough to tell the tale."
  267. You glance at Faz, who slowly reaches a paw to his throat without turning his gaze from the news. "She's not kidding," he drones.
  269. "I'll, ah, take that under advisement," you reply, tensely shuffling closer to the front door.
  271. Cheeky flashes you a wicked smile. "See that you do."
  273. Once you're out in the courtyard, you breathe deeply, savoring the cool air. You begin strolling around the complex without any real aim or purpose, appreciating the opportunity to have some time to yourself even if it's just for a little while. Gazing out at Building 8, you idly wonder how "Chiclet's brood" is doing, as Cheeky so eloquently put it. It's only been a few days since you moved out, and while you have grown rather attached to your new friends at 93-B, you do find yourself longing for familiar territory again.
  275. You are a little tempted to go by and knock on the door to say hello, but helping out with Faz and Foxy has given you a greater appreciation for what they must be going through with April right now. You imagine Chiclet's probably overwrought having to juggle both April and Bonnibel, seeing as how she likely doesn't have much experience dealing with someone requiring the special care April needs. It's best if you just give them some time to adjust.
  277. Pausing for a second, you ponder something. When did you start thinking of her as "Chiclet" and not "Chica"? You suppose it technically IS her name. As long as you don't call her Chiclet to her face, you should be golden.
  279. As usual, the apartment complex is fairly quiet this time of day. Every here and there you catch sight of other tenants, but for the most part it doesn't seem to be much of a lively community. You double-take at a nearby window -- a familiar-looking white fox with messy makeup pokes a head out of a downstairs window in Building 8, tending to a small collection of colorful flowers.
  281. "Mangle?" you shout from across the street.
  283. "Oh, good morning," she calls out in a cheerful, sing-song voice as you pass by.
  285. Approaching the window, you realize your mistake -- though this vixen is similar to Mangle, she is in fact an entirely different fox. Dipping your head politely, you greet her.
  287. "Hi! Sorry, I thought you were someone else. Those are some pretty flowers you have! What kind are they?"
  289. "Mmm. Foxglove," the fox bubbles. "These here are called snapdragons. They grow well even in the winter as long as it isn't freezing. You can tell there's a warmth to every fold of these... delicate petals." She's stroking the flower now.
  291. You rub your chin, leaning in to examine them.
  293. "No kidding! I heard there was a pretty bad freeze last year, though. I'm new to the area, so I wasn't here for it."
  295. She sniffs at you, nodding. "I can smell it on you. You must be Mike, right?"
  297. You flinch slightly. Smell? What?
  299. "I see my reputation precedes me," you nervously chuckle, extending your hand to her for a handshake. "At least, I'm hoping it's my reputation and not some kind of odor."
  301. Without releasing the flower, she pokes a paw out to grip yours in a delicate, ladylike shake.
  303. "Bonbon spoke highly of you, and now I can definitely see what she 'sees' in you. You're very much within her... preferences."
  305. You subconsciously back away from the window a half-step. "Is that so," you reply, voice breaking just a touch.
  307. Tittering, she bats her eyelashes at you. "Oh, I guarantee it. My name is Mangifera, but please... call me Mango."
  309. So this is the other Mangle that lives below you. That makes sense, because you recognize the unusual curtains from when you were in Bonbon's apartment the other day.
  311. "Nice meeting you, Mango," you reply. "Tell Bonbon I said hello."
  313. "Oh, it's nice... meeting you too," she giggles, blowing you a kiss. "Don't be a stranger. We take care of our own around here!"
  315. You can still hear her "tee hee hee"-ing as you walk away.
  319. Trotting along for a while, you find yourself enjoying the change of scenery more than anything else. Eventually, you make it to the end of the apartment complex, arriving at the cul-de-sac near Building 12.
  321. As you turn around to begin heading back, the sound of a small motor behind you draws your attention. Looking up, you notice a familiar-looking golf cart puttering down the road, its sole wiry, bespectacled occupant nervously clutching the steering wheel with spindly fingers. Seeing you ahead, Marion pulls the cart off to the curb and offers you a timid wave.
  323. "Oh, Mr. Schmidt," he says. "May I trouble you for a moment of your time?"
  325. "Sure thing, Mr. Marion," you reply. "Oh, sorry -- I never did catch whether that's your first or last name."
  327. "Oh, it's my only name. We don't have surnames. My culture believes that each individual should forge their own identity. Taking on the burden of the name of someone who came before you is like wearing their mask, so to speak."
  329. You tilt your head. "Interesting." You're not really sure you get what he means, but that's not really a new feeling for you by now.
  331. "Mmm, I suppose," he mumbles, adjusting his glasses. "I just wanted to apologize to you about the, er, mixup. Ms. May is a client with extremely special needs, and all of our furnished apartments are currently leased or undergoing renovations."
  333. "No harm done, I guess. I've been over at 93-B right now with Bonworth. They're housing me temporarily."
  335. Marion claps his thin hands together, making a slight "splat" sound.
  337. "I'm relieved to hear that you were able to seek alternative arrangements. We could have moved her into one of the empty apartments, but with no furnishings available and no utilities for potentially days, it wouldn't have made for a very pleasant stay for her. You're a gentleman, Mr. Schmidt."
  339. You laugh. "I don't know about that, but everyone in 93-B has been pleasant," you inform him. "I can't say as I have any real, you know, complaints. Actually, I've sort of considered staying on with them -- at least for a while, if they'll have me. We seem to get along well."
  341. "Oh, how curious!" he exclaims. "I'm certainly glad to find out the dark cloud had a silver lining."
  343. There's a sort of awkward lull in the conversation where both of you seem to be struggling for anything else to say.
  345. "I remember what I wanted to ask -- how's Bonworth been working out for you?" you inquire.
  347. "Ah, yes! I do certainly admire Mr. Rabbinson's work ethic. He's a proficient typist, and quite the people person, really. Jeremy's certainly trained him well for managerial duties," Marion answers.
  349. "Jeremy?" you echo confusedly.
  351. Before he can reply, the sound of a tinny music box interrupts him. Marion fishes around in his pocket and pulls out a smartphone in a battered, faded white case.
  353. "Oh, when it rains, it pours," he gasps. "One of our tenants reported a pipe has burst in Building 11! I'm sorry, but I must go -- I need to go assess the damages."
  355. As he speeds off in his cart, you scratch the back of your head.
  357. "Who the hell is Jeremy?" you mumble to yourself.
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