By the time Francis could escape into the ether, he never wanted to see or smell macaroni and cheese again. It’s what got him into that mess. It was the start of it all. And, even as he rested, as his mind fled into the abyss, his body knew no such rest. Nicole made sure it would get its workout. She would get her day’s worth.
His journey into the darkness was jarring, quakes and flashes of light surging through as his body continued to be racked with pleasure and its heights. He didn’t make it more than a mile down into that abyss, crackling with so much lightning, with such thunder, before he was hauled back up, returned to the living room and the two couches he passed out upon- wait. Two? He bolted up- and yelped as the cushions started to give, the air quite empty between his member and its shrunken satchel. It was where the nightstand usually was, now pushed against the entertainment stand of the TV, with the two couches wedged together like a “bed”. His clothes were tossed over him, covering the top of him- covered the top of him. They mounded on his rod, which tried its best to even hide from that, hearing the cackling and banter once more from the kitchen.
And Francis, once again, remembered far too late. His bag was still in the kitchen... He needed a job. If only to get something smarter than him to always be in his pants. Can’t expect Nicole to always be in them... Not from lack of trying!
He groaned, growled hearing that uproarious cacophony in the other room grow, as if it fed off his misery, as if it enjoyed seeing him suffer! Well, sucks to be them, then! He stood, and let his clothes fall into the soiled carpet underneath. It was only in the one spot, though, right where his rod and jewels were suspended, but his shirt and sweats found them proper. He yawned, turned to more groans and growls as he stretched and his neck, his back, his chest all cracked... then lumbered into the kitchen, ready to ruin Penny’s day-
It wasn’t Penny.
Ali, the pixie he only met a day ago, his partner in crime, his acquaintance of dark dealings, sat at the table with a cup of coffee, across from Nicole. Really, it was hard to tell who was taller the other, but if one was a cheating sort and counted wingspan, Ali would definitely have a clear lead. She wore a deep purple dress that day... rather, her and Nicole did. It was... uncanny how similar the two were, right down to how they stared at him. And how quiet it had gotten between all three of them.
“Nice dick,” Ali said at last, sipping her coffee. She sighed as she put the cup down, then reached to her left, pulling out- “Johnny asked me to bring this to you this morning. You left it in detention.”
“Thanks,” he grumbled, and snatched it out of her hand... which made her titter. “What?”
“To which part?”
“Now don’t confuse the wee barra,” Nicole blurted, waving her mug Francis’s way. “This early in the morn he don’t know his head from a hole in the ground. Why’d ye come strutting in so proud, laddie? Have ya no shame?”
“Not really, no,” Francis said. “Or sense. I left my bag... in the bathroom.” He slapped his forehead, chuckling. “I need a job... So bad.”
“Wait a moment. I thought ye went to work at the hobby store last weekend?”
“You work at The Chalice?” Ali said. “Never struck me as the nerdy type.”
“Aye. He spent all of the weekend in the place. Ah don’t even think he made it home before going to school. What were ye doing, then?”
“The owner. She’s a hardcore nerd. Probably had him playing for hours.”
“I wish, but no,” Francis said, and went back into the living room- remembering the shambles it was in. “Nicole! Where did you put my silver case?”
“The steel case? Ah put it in your closet.”
He rushed into the bedroom and returned to them with the case, opening to show the deck boxes inside.
“She had me crack open so... so many packs,” he said, laying out those boxes on the table –still naked. Still naked. “There are boxes filled with others, but we spent hours making these out of those packs.”
Nicole scoffed, slapping the HARD plastic towers. “THAT’S what ye spent yer time on? A right waste. Ye could have been making money-”
“But I did. Even with all those boxes and these decks, I made $200-”
“You told me forty- oh, for crying out loud! Have you no shame?” Plank screeched, finally making her entry. She slapped his ass with her staff, making it sizzle as she shoved passed... and saw the rest of the crew. “Nicole! It’s so nice to see you... Ali? What are you doing here?”
“Cleaning up breadcrumbs,” she said, and stood. Her wings buzzed as she eased between the wizard and drachen, heading for the door. “Anyways, I should go get ready for class... We’ll talk later. Right, Francis?”
“Sure, I guess.”
“Good. And, again, nice dick.”
She chuckled as she closed the door behind her, leaving Francis between a rock and a goblin... He stretched again, groaning.
“Well, I best be going to go get a shower,” he said, chortling as he smacked Penny’s arm. “You two have fun now.”
Francis quickly stowed his decks again and rushed out to the bed-then-bathroom. The water couldn’t have chilled him fast enough, his mind already in overdrive that morning- and yet still lacking the most basic of sense. He tossed his packet through the shower curtain and into the basin of the bath, but it was already too late. The papers were soaked through... Not like it mattered. All he did was scribble in them.
By the time he got out and donned yet another new set of clothes (black sweater and red sweats), Penny was down in her car. Nicole was in (his) bed, slumbering away, and didn’t even stir as he stomped out. Once again, he went with no boots and jumped over the railing of the walkway, right into his groove. They made their usual stop at the golden arches (which Francis paid for his half), and the two ate before they stepped out into the parking lot then enjoyed a nice, normal day.
After he picked a bone with a certain Fang.
Francis lumbered into the room, slurping on his chocolate milkshake, and belched right into Carl’s face. The fanger, though his face (what he called one anyways) rippled with the force, didn’t even stir, still flipping through his notes, looking over the work on them. Both the literal and the literary. He muttered to himself, even as Francis dumped the last few dribbles of his dairy concoction on the top of his pasty white chrome dome, giving it something of a hairstyle –and a hat! As Francis sat, and punched Carl’s shoulder again and again (and again and again and again AND AGAIN), it wasn’t until Mordred arrived, carrying Olen, did the Fang look up.
“Hey, Mordred,” he said... and blinked. He raised his fingers to his face, and wiped away a bit of the chocolate that had settled on his brow. He looked at it, saw how it coated them, then ran his hand up to where his “hat” was, and shot Francis a dirty look. “Is this really necessary?”
“After yesterday? Yeah! Be thankful that’s all it is, but that’s all a coward deserves. Right now.”
“How am I a coward?”
“Coward, traitor, opportunist: Pick one. All of them are scummy, and fit you to a T.”
“If you are talking about the attack from the Vreshen family, I have no camaraderie with those brutish trogs.”
“Oh, so you’re one of those fangers, huh? Turn your back on your own kind, treat them all as lesser-”
“They are NOT ‘my kind’. I come from the Hooker family-”
“Don’t flatter yourself. There’s no way anyone would pay for your ass.”
“No. My Matriarch was Lucille Hooker. That was her name.”
“You’re shitting me. There are ACTUALLY people with that last name?”
“Don’t know history well, do you... and that’s exactly what it is. There WERE people with that last name. There WAS a Hooker family... and I’m all that’s left.” He accepted the towel from Johnny, who just arrived, and nodded to him. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” the incubus said, smiling at the Fang... before grimacing at Francis. “That was low, Junior. Even for you.”
Francis scoffed, and sat back in his seat... though all wind was taken from his sails for the rest of the day. He actually spent it awake AND listening to the lecture, to Johnny speak, stewing in that look, that statement of disapproval. How could he even say that to him? He knew what happened yesterday- what happened three weeks ago! “That was low”? The milkshake was low?! It was easily cleaned; so what if it dripped down onto his notebook, with his edgy, dark... brooding... lonely art... Carl was alone. He didn’t have anyone, not a single other soul to rely on... Dammit, Johnny. Why’d you have to make him relatable!
Francis scoffed, and jumped as Carl rose from his seat. His notebooks were closed, his pencil placed on top, and he stretched.
“What? What’s wrong now!” Francis exclaimed.
“Eh?” Carl said, looking back. “It’s lunchtime.”
“Man, you spaced out hard!” Olen said beside him, chuckling in his bucket. “I never seen you so focused.”
“Why were you watching me?”
“I watch everything around me. All the time.”
“Right... Well, that means it’s time- to have lunch with tall, dark, and demanding.” He chuckled, standing... and turning to Mordred. “I did say we would, didn’t I?”
Mordred... still didn’t say anything. Back to square one after a single day... Where was Penny to ruin this m- there she was!
“Alright, geek! Ready to go?” Plank said, standing in the doorway.
“Not today. I did tell the Dark Lord I would join him.”
“I will be, too,” Ben said, laughing in fat.
“You were not part of the deal!”
“Oh? What about me?” Olen said. “Lunch is often boring, but I have a feeling something bad will happen with Francis in the cafeteria.”
“Which is exactly why we need to go,” Penny said, and growled as she crossed, grabbing his arm. “Come on!”
“Well, you heard her, Sauron. We can’t go find the one ring-” He began... heart skipping a beat as Mordred clenched his arm.
“A man of your word,” she said, and pulled back.
“Have you met him?” Plank said, tugging harder. “He wouldn’t know honor if it came up and asked for a duel. He’d just rip its head off.”
“True, but rude,” Francis said. “I try to hold to my word, but life loves to fuck me over.”
“I will help,” Mordred said, wrenching harder.
“Whoa! Hey, Morty,” Lucas said, patting his shoulder. “Don’t you think this is a little excessive? If his girlfriend wants lunch with h-”
“G-girlfriend!” Plank said- and that was the opening Mordred needed.
“We got him! Run!” Lucas chuckled, “pushing” Penny aside then grabbed Olen as they all rushed down the hall and floor to the cafeteria. It was right at the platform, in between where the two staircases met, a pair of wooden double doors thrown wide to rows upon rows of those cheap tables Francis saw at Beatrice’s. There were at least five times more than at The Chalice, ending at the wall across. There was another set of doors, two screen sliders, open to show a balcony to sit upon, looking over the grounds in between the Academy and the new building at the base of the mountain, while on the right there was a buffet layout. At the closest end, beside the clerk’s counter, there was the salad bar, surprisingly picked clean at the moment, then desert coolers, followed by the hot foods that took up the rest of the length, “ending” with plates and cutlery. On the left side were “specialty” kiosks, offering such fanciful extras like sushi, Indian, human meat and blood, Chinese, and vegan.
One would think it would be hard to find a place to sit, but, as Mordred, set Francis down, the choice for seats became quite plentiful. He couldn’t really blame the workers for not keeping up with demand, but how could they see the almost filled plates and think it’s okay for so much food to be wasted- and they chose then to go on break? Who was going to take his money? Who was going to stop anyone from stealing it and simply eating... Well, that’s a problem for them to deal with.
Francis loaded up four plates worth of food and decided he wanted some fresh air. He headed for the balcony which, though there were only a smattering of white picnic tables on it, they were all clear. He chose the one closest to the railing, sighing as he cracked open his blueberry lemonade, and partook, waiting for the others to join him. Mordred was the first, with almost matching amounts of food (almost eerily matching), while Lucas had to balance his and Olen’s. Ben was the last, with the least amount, taken from the vegan stand.
“There. We finally had lunch. Aren’t you glad, dark one?” Francis said, munching into a slice of pizza.
“Very,” he said, also eating a slice... Francis grabbed a second and put it on top. And so did Mordred- then a third- and a handful of chicken strips, munching down as Francis did.
“You want a challenge, huh?” Francis said, muffled, almost garbled by how much he was shoving in. “You have no idea who you are messing with.”
Lucas scoffed, picking at his salad... topped with fried steak strips.
“You guys seriously have no class,” he said, ripping into one of those meaty morsels. “Food is meant to be enjoyed, not hogged down.”
“For real,” Olen said, and grabbed the entire plate, dipping its contents into his bucket. Steam rose out of it, the chicken quarter, the three burgers, the bowl of macaroni and cheese all hissing away and turning to that blue-pink mush.
“Let them have their fun, guys,” Ben said. “I’m just glad we finally had a chance to hang.”
Francis gasped, coming up for air at last. Two of his three plates were gone... while Mordred still had one-and-a-half.
“What’s the matter, bro? Can’t put your money where your mouth is?” Francis said, chuckling- burping- gagging. “Oh g-”
He bolted to his feet, turned to the rail, and unleashed his fury onto the ground below. Screams erupted through the shower, forgotten as he wiped his mouth and sat again, panting.
“Chicken bone.” He stated, glowering at Mordred... then at Ben. “Nothing stopped you guys before, you know.”
“Oh, we know,” Lucas said for him. “We have been, but we’ve been wanting you to join us.”
“Well, I’m flattered, but don’t make it a habit- and look who finally polished off plate number two.”
“That’s a losing battle, you know?” Ben said. “Shades never feel full. They never feel satisfied.”
“Welcome to the real world... but why did you want me to join, Lord Edgeworth.”
Mordred... simply stared at him. He continued to glower at Francis, even as he picked up a fried chicken leg, disappearing into the darkness that was its “helm”... Francis shook his head.
“Well, why did you guys want me to join?” He said.
“Again, I wanted something exciting,” Olen said, and huffed. “Guess that’s not gonna happen. Everyone just runs.”
“If only they knew how much a doofus you really were,” Lucas said, and batted him with his tail. “You wouldn’t harm a fly unless it had a bit of puss you were aching to drill.”
“I mean... there are a lot of hot exohominids out there-”
“You would fuck a bug?” Ben said, guffawing. “Man, you really are the man!”
“Bug women need love too, you know. And I’m not talking about Asians.”
“Whoa!” They all exclaimed.
“... Too far?”
“Very,” Ali said, making them all jump as she buzzed over the railing. “Hey.”
“Yo. What are you doing here?”
“Seeing where the waterworks were coming from. Also was telling the other girls from detention I saw your dick.”
“She saw your dick?” Olen repeated.
“I did. It was nice.”
“That’s the third time you said that,” Francis interjected, shaking his head. “It’s a long story-”
“Not as long as his-”
“Professor Brimst asked her to stop by my place to drop off a packet from when I was in detention, and she caught me in a compromising position... But I take it you left that part out of your story when telling them, didn’t you?”
Ali simply smiled, showing off her toothy grin, and it only grew wider as Cassidy and the other harpies swooped down on him.
“How could you?” Melanie exclaimed.
“You had a date with Cassie,” another said.
“How could you show another woman your dick!” Cassidy, herself, shrieked.
“Yes, how could you!” Desiree shrilled, slithering out onto the balcony. Followed by the wolf pack
“What gives, fool?” Many boomed. “We were gonna jump you at the end of the week. You couldn’t keep it in your pants that long!”
“He didn’t even have pants,” Ali said. Which didn’t make the situation any better. In fact, it only made it so... so much worse.
“He was naked!” Cassidy shrieked, tears rolling down her face.
“It could have been me,” Desiree grumbled, yelling as she repeated it. “Damn that teacher. How DARE she get in my way.”
“Hot damn! I knew you were desperate, but a pixie-” Victoria stated.
“What was that, pup? Shouldn’t you let the main bitch talk?”
“Hey! Watch it, Tinkerbell!” Mandy barked.
“Or else what?” She rose in the air and turned around, lifting up her dress to show off her swirly-colored rump. “Here’s the full moon again. Go ahead and show your mega bitch already!”
“Oh that does it!”
Mandy snarled and leaped. Accidentally hitting one of the harpies as she did. They squawked, and turned their ire upon the wolf pack, jumping them. Their squabble brought the red out in Desiree’s eyes and she joined the fight, bowling over the table the five sat at, forcing them to the balcony as they bickered and fought... and destroyed the other tables.
Francis... simply blinked, watching it all... before looking down at the giggling, steaming bucket.
“Okay. This was what I expected,” he said, and whistled. “I wish I grabbed some popcorn.”
“Me too,” Ali said, landing on Francis’ shoulder. “This went far better than I expected.”