After some bizarre shenanigans messed up my first attempt, I finally got everything sorted out and the next chapter of my FNAFiction is available to read over at Fanfiction.net. It’s also up at Archiveofourown.org (who did NOT give me shenanigans. They don’t lose my reviews/comments in a black hole of “Eh, they’ll turn up someday” either. Not saying that makes them a better platform for reading fanfics, but I’m sure not NOT saying it. Step up your damn game, ff.net).
Whatever. Everything’s all right. (Self-reference ftw!) My weekly obligation as far as the series is concerned has been met, and I have only my weekly obligations as a writer of this blog and then I can have a brownie. That means composing this post. Also baking brownies.
It’s always something.
After dinner with Shelly, Ana drove home. Not to Aunt Easter’s house—Erik Metzger’s house—but to Freddy’s. Home was where the heart was, after all. There were kids down at the quarry, making use of these last hours of daylight by chasing each other around the rocks. She couldn’t exactly hide from them, only hope that their game of war took enough of their attention that a truck climbing up Edge of Nowhere and parking in the pizzeria’s empty lot had escaped their collective eye.
The loading dock door was shut and jammed from within. Ana knocked and watched the tiny shouting dots that were kids at play until Freddy let her in. “How long have they been there?” she asked by way of greeting.
Freddy grunted and looked out at the quarry, holding the door as she ducked under his burly plastic arm. “ABOUT. AN. HOUR. BUT. IT. WILL. BE. DARK. SOON. AND. THEY. WILL. GO. HOME.”
“You’re a trusting soul, aren’t you?”
“HARDLY. BUT. I. KNOW. KIDS,” said Freddy. “THEY’RE. ELEVEN. TWELVE. OLD. ENOUGH. TO. TALK. ABOUT. CHASING. MONSTERS. IN. THE. DAY. TIME. BUT. AT. NIGHT. THEY’RE. STILL. YOUNG. ENOUGH. TO. KNOW. THE. MONSTERS. CHASE. YOU.” Freddy closed the loading dock door and hammered the table leg back into place to lock it. “GIVE. THEM. FIVE. MORE. YEARS. AND. THEY. WILL. TURN. INTO. TROUBLE. FOR. US. UNTIL. THEN. I’M. NOT. WORRIED. BUT. I. AM. WATCHING. THEM. HOW’S THE PIZZA?”
Freddy clicked to himself and gestured toward the bag in her hand with the Gallifrey’s name on the side. “HOW. WAS. YOUR. DINNER.”
“Oh. Fine.” Ana tossed the bag into the box she was using for trash on her way through the kitchen, put her day pack on the counter and opened up her food cupboard. After some deliberation, she selected a tub of ready-eat mac and cheese from her dwindling supplies and popped the top. “It went great, actually. Better than I expected. He gave me my job back.”
Freddy grunted, reaching into the trash to lift out the bag again. He removed the plastic container holding her untouched burger and fries, studied it, and set it on the counter. “WHY?”
“It’s a long story. The gist of it is, I apparently have more friends in this town than I thought I did. He’s super-not happy about it, though. I’m pretty sure I’ll be out on the curb again once the library’s his, but in the meantime, I got a steady paycheck again. I start on Monday.”
“GOOD.” Freddy frowned at the messy splat of blueberries and crumbled crust inside the smaller plastic container, then at her. “WHAT’S. WRONG. WITH. THIS.”
“Nothing,” she said, taking it away from him. She put it back in the bag, added the burger and fries, and tossed it back in the trash.
“IS. THAT. YOUR. DINNER.”
“No,” said Ana, taking a swallow of room-temperature mac and cheese to prove it. “No, that’s not mine.”
“Freddy, we are not doing this. Drop it. What time is it anyway?”
Freddy jerked, laughed and spat, “IT’S TIME TO PARTY!”
“Otherwise known as 8:35,” Ana mused, looking at her watch. “That’s like…half an hour of daylight. Shit. Fine. I’ll call it a night, but I’m putting in a wake-up call for four o’clock and if you hit my bunny’s snooze button again, I may have to kick your ass.”
“THE RULES ARE FOR YOUR SAFETY,” he reminded her, folding his arms with a distinctly unworried glower. “DON’T HIT. AND. DON’T TOUCH FREDDY.”
Ana shook the last few clumps of cheese sauce and soggy pasta into her mouth, tossed the empty tub into the trash, and opened the cupboard again. She contemplated her options and helped herself to one of Rider’s amped-up spikes. She was in for the night and the stuff was getting stale anyway. “Hand me a beer, would you?”
Freddy glanced at the cooler, then at her. Grunting, he went over and fished a bottle out. A water bottle.
“You’re killing me, bear,” said Ana, accepting it with a sigh. “You calling me an alcoholic now? Really? I had two beers yesterday. Not even a whole two beers. Those other bottles were Bonnie’s.”
“SOME. THINGS. DON’T. MIX.”
“What, me and Bonnie?” asked Ana, then looked at her joint and rolled her eyes. “Oh for Christ’s sake. I’ll have you know pot and beer mix just fine. As a matter of fact, you can get pot-infused beer in some places and if anything, it gets me less drunk than the regular kind. Lighten up. You’re not the DARE-Bear.”
Freddy closed his eyes, shook his head, opened them. “WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT. AN-N-A. YOU. WANT. ME. TO. JUST. STAND. HERE. AND. WATCH. YOU—”
“Watch me what? Drink a beer? Smoke some pot? Get over yourself! Prohibition was repealed, like, a hundred goddamn years ago and cannabis is legal to some degree in, like, half these United States! Okay, not this one, but I’m not pushing it on little kids, am I? Who the hell am I hurting?”
“IT’S. NOT. ABOUT. THAT.”
“Horseshit it’s not. But, okay, fine. I’ll play along. What’s it about?”
Freddy looked around, his plastic eyes skipping from one kitchen-related poster to another. Employees Must Wash Hands, read one. Floor Can Be Slippery When Wet, read another. What to do about burns. How to handle knives safely. Avoiding falls, shocks and accidents. A hundred rules for safety and not one of them helpful. When he ran out of walls, he looked up at the open sky, then at Ana again. “WHEN. YOU. SAW. THE. WOOF. WAS. BAD. YOU. DIDN’T. WAIT. FOR. IT. TO. FALL. DOWN. BEFORE. YOU. FIXED. IT.”
All the fun went out of the fight just that fast. Ana stared, open-mouthed, until a distant bang and a short crowing of boyish voices out at the quarry reminded her the world had not stopped after all. She took a breath and that worked, so she took another and said, calmly, “I’m not ‘bad,’ Freddy.”
He blinked twice, then raised his hand and slammed it into his forehead just above and between his eyes. “THAT’S. NOT. WHAT. I. MEANT.”
“I’m not broken,” said Ana, heat rising up from her stomach to throb in her cheeks. “I don’t need fixing. And even if I did—”
“Even if I did,” she said, louder, “I’m pretty goddamn sure that relying on a giant talking teddy bear to do it for me is the wrong fucking way to go about it!”
Freddy nodded, his hand now rubbing at his forehead, his eyes still shut tight. His speaker was set at a volume that did not allow him to speak softly, but as much as he could, he muttered, “WHY. COULDN’T. SHE. BE. TEN. I’M. SO. GOOD. WITH. CHILDREN.”