Disclaimer: The TV series "LazyTown" was created Magnús Scheving and is owned by Turner Broadcasting System. This work of fanfiction is solely for entertainment purposes. I do not own the characters depicted in this story, nor do I gain any profit from using them.
It was late in the evening in LazyTown. A few dimly flickering streetlights dimpled the streets but there was hardly a need for them. In this small of a community everyone was already shut inside. Everything was dark, empty, and quiet.
Things were not so in the mayor's house. More specifically it was bright, crowded, and full of laughter in Stephanie's room where some of the kids were having a slumber party, and there was no slumbering to be had at all.
"I have an idea," Trixie said. "Let's go play outside!"
"But it's dark out," Ziggy said with a nervous glance out the window.
"Yeah, Trixie, it's kind of late to be going out," Stephanie said.
"Come on guys, that's half of the fun," Trixie argued.
"But what games are there to do? It's too dark to play any sports."
"The best game of them all," Trixie said. "Flashlight tag!"
"How do you play that?" Ziggy asked.
"It's easy," Trixie said, "It's just like hide and seek only way harder. One of us has the flashlight and the others have to hide. If the seeker finds you and tags you with the light from their flashlight, you're out!"
"Can't we all have a flashlight?" Ziggy asked. "It sounds kind of scary to have to hide in the dark."
"If you're that scared you can be the seeker," Trixie said. "That way you have the flashlight."
"I guess that's okay," Ziggy said.
"How about it, Pinky?" Trixie asked Stephanie. "Are you in or not?"
"It does sound fun," Stephanie said. "But we have to be quiet or we'll get in trouble with my uncle."
As quiet as they could the kids slipped out of Stephanie's room and tiptoed down the hall towards the front door. Sitting in the main room Stephanie's uncle, Mayor Meanswell, had already fallen asleep in his chair with a bit of knitting in his lap. The children giggled and shushed each other as they ducked out of the house and closed the door carefully behind them.
"All right, Ziggy, now close your eyes and count to ten," Trixie instructed the boy. Ziggy gripped his flashlight tightly and cast it around them, picking up highlights of the sidewalk, trees, and fence.
"It's awfully dark," Ziggy said. "What if I can't find you guys? You could get lost out here."
"Then you better find us," Trixie said. "Everyone ready? Let's go!"
Ziggy let out a squeak as he scrambled to cover his eyes and start counting. Trixie and Stephanie ran off in different directions stifling their laughter as they looked for places to hide.
LazyTown was very different at night, Stephanie found. All the usual places where she and the other kids liked to hang out looked unfamiliar in the dark. She almost bumped into the low brick wall and skirted around it. It was hard to keep her bearings with so many shadows seeming to change the locations of mailboxes, lampposts, and park benches.
Before she knew it Stephanie had run clear of the town center and found herself near the outskirts. Here there weren't even any lampposts to show where LazyTown's boundaries were. The town sort of just came to a halt out here, the normal background of houses and trees dropping off abruptly into wide open plains. Stephanie paused and looked around. She'd never really looked at this place before and had never realized how empty it was.
The only thing out here was... The billboard! This would be the perfect hiding spot. It was so dark that not even the cow painted on the sign could be seen. With a silent smile Stephanie ran the rest of the way to take cover under the board's black shadow.
Ziggy would never find her here. The kids never went near the billboard during the daytime, there was no way the little boy would work up the courage to come investigate it in the dark of the night. It was almost too good a hiding place. Maybe Stephanie should pick somewhere that was easier so it would still be interesting. She tried to think of another spot in town that would still be good while not taking all the fun out of the game.
"What about a big cannon?"
Stephanie turned her head sharply from side to side. Was someone talking to her? But there was no one else around.
"I don't think so. Not after last time."
No, there were two people talking. The longer Stephanie listened, the more she began to recognize their voices.
"There would be a nice big safety net this time, I swear! No clowning around. Scout's honor."
There was a soft laugh. "What kind of scout? A Sporty scout, or a Lazy scout?"
Could that be... Robbie Rotten and Sportacus? Stephanie crept around the billboard squinting through the dark. She went all the way around the large structure but couldn't see them anywhere. What was going on?
"You need a hint? Here's my salute."
An overly dramatic yawn interrupted the conversation. Stephanie stood at the back of the billboard and looked at it with her hands on her hips, perplexed. As her eyes drifted up the big sign she finally found them. Two shadowy shapes sat side by side all the way on top of the structure, their silhouettes standing out against the deep blue of the sky. What were they doing up there?
"If you're that tired you should get some sleep," Sportacus said with a playful note in his voice. "Good scouts always get enough rest."
"Yeah, well, I wouldn't be so tired if you and those kids weren't doing all that running and dancing and singing all day. How is anyone supposed to sleep with all that noise?"
Stephanie craned her neck as she looked up towards the men. Their voices drifted down to her softly and she had to strain her ears to catch every word.
"But why do you try to sleep during the day? You should be out running and dancing and singing with us."
"Yeah right! I would never do any of those things."
"Really?" Sportacus asked with a sly lilt. "Maybe you could use some practice running. But I always thought you were a very good dancer and singer."
Robbie made a strange noise like he was choking. He harrumphed and cleared his throat as he collected himself. "What would you know about it, Sporta-sneak? Have you been spying on me?"
This was too weird. Just that afternoon Robbie had been meddling in the community garden trying to hook the watering hose up to a soda fountain until Sportacus stepped in and put a stop to his mischief. The villain had even stormed off in a huff after yelling one last time at the hero for foiling his plan. How had both of the men ended up here, and talking of all things? Was this another one of Robbie's weird schemes, maybe to turn Sportacus into some kind of Billboard Guy?
Stephanie took hold of a supporting beam on the back of the sign and tested her weight on it. It held her easily so she carefully started to find more hand- and footholds to climb up. She would make sure no funny business was going on, that was all— and it would be easier to hear them if she was a little closer...
"I would never spy. I meant all the times you've sung and danced in your disguises."
"Oh. Well." Robbie cleared his throat again. "I guess you would know, then."
"You should try to do those things without a disguise next time. I'm sure the kids would love it."
"I'm sure you'd love it," Robbie muttered.
"I would!" Sportacus readily agreed.
"Give me a break," Robbie groaned.
"Why not try it tomorrow?" Sportacus suggested. "I even know what song you could sing and dance to, and everyone would join you." The man started to hum a tune that was well familiar to Stephanie. As she climbed up a bit higher she could make out some mumbled words coming from the hero's mouth. "Bing bang, digga rigga—"
"Don't," Robbie interrupted sharply, "sing that tiresome tune for the second time today. I've already got a headache."
"All that soda you drank probably wasn't very good for you," Sportacus said. "Too much sugar and caffeine is sure to give you a meltdown."
"I wouldn't have had to drink all of it if you hadn't clogged my soda fountain with those disgusting carrots! A little carbonation might have been good for growing vegetables, you don't know."
"You know I couldn't let you ruin the kids' gardens. They've worked so hard on them."
"And I worked hard on that machine! But you had no problem destroying that, now did you?"
"I'm sorry. Is there some way I can make it up to you?"
"Well, you could climb into that cannon..."
Sportacus laughed again. "Robbie..."
Stephanie tried to push herself up a little closer... but her foot skidded off of the next cross beam and she was suddenly falling! She grabbed frantically at the metal struts and planks of plywood and tried not to let out a startled shriek to alarm the men just above her. But it didn't matter if they hadn't heard her.
"Someone's in trouble!" Sportacus exclaimed as his crystal started to flash and beep. He stood up on top of the billboard and looked around the dark town. "But who?"
Looking elsewhere, Robbie started to turn carefully around to climb down the back of the billboard. He froze in place leaning over the side.
"Peeping pixie!" he sputtered.
"Whoops," Stephanie squeaked as she lost her grip on the support beams. Gravity was pulling fiercely on her and loosing her fingers until she couldn't hold on any longer. For one weightless second her stomach did a somersault before she fell.
"Not so fast!" Robbie lunged over the side of the billboard and managed to grab Stephanie by one hand. He didn't have the strength to pull the girl up however. Abruptly he started to fall off the side too!
"I got you!" Sportacus grabbed Robbie's legs before the villain completely tumbled off of the billboard.
"And I got you," Robbie growled through his clenched teeth in Stephanie's face, not quite as reassuring.
It took a little finagling for everyone to get safely down off the billboard. It was only once they were firmly on the ground that Sportacus turned his gaze onto the pink haired interloper.
"Stephanie, what are you doing out here?" he asked. "It's past eight o' eight— you should be in bed."
"We were just playing," Stephanie said. "I was looking for a hiding place, but—"
"Who cares about that?" Robbie interrupted. "Who do you think you are eavesdropping on us?"
"I didn't mean to," Stephanie denied the accusation. "But what were you—"
"That's none of your business," Robbie talked over her again with even more bluster. He shook a finger in the girl's face. "You can't just go snooping around listening in to peoples' conversations! It's— sneaky and sly, and— and— loathing!"
While Robbie dug into Stephanie for listening in on them, Sportacus stood by with his arms crossed seemingly holding back his laughter. He eventually reached out a hand and gave Robbie a pat on the shoulder meant to calm him that just made the villain sidestep sharply out of his reach.
"Stephanie's a nice girl, she won't tell anyone about it, will you?" the blue suited man looked calmly to Stephanie.
"I won't," Stephanie said slowly, looking between Sportacus and Robbie. "Tell anyone... what...?"
"EXACTLY," Robbie snarled. "You didn't see anything, either. Now be a... good little girl," he said the words with open distaste, "and play your games AWAY FROM MY BILLBOARD."
Stephanie stared at Robbie for a moment, slightly stunned by his emphatic dismissal. It wasn't unusual for him to try to shoo kids away but this was an even stronger reaction than those other times. He seemed ready to chase Stephanie off if necessary. The girl looked to Sportacus one more time but his expression was unreadable in the gloomy lighting behind the billboard.
"You should go home," Sportacus said more gently. "Find the other kids and tell them not to be out so late, all right?"
"But what about you?" Stephanie blurted the question out. It still didn't feel right leaving Sportacus to deal alone with Robbie Rotten. Sportacus leaned down to Stephanie's level so he could speak confidentially to her while Robbie tapped his foot impatiently.
"Everything is fine, Stephanie," Sportacus told her. She could hear the smile in his voice. "Robbie and I are just playing a little game too, that's all."
"But what game is—"
"It's something only we do," Sportacus said, not elaborating any further. "But he won't play with anyone at all if he thinks he's been found out. You might say he only likes hide and seek too... Do you understand?"
"I... guess," Stephanie mumbled.
"Good," Sportacus said, patting her arm. He straightened back up and spoke in his normal volume once more. "Be careful going home. Good night, Stephanie!"
"Bye," Stephanie said, too lost to say anything else. Robbie snorted through his nose and didn't say another word to her.
Stephanie could feel the eyes of both men on her as she slowly walked away. She was almost out of earshot when Sportacus spoke again. But it wasn't to her.
"What if the cannon shot turnips instead?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Robbie's voice snapped back, gradually fading out of Stephanie's range of hearing as she kept walking. "No one's going to care if it shoots some boring old sportscandy. Where's the fun in that?"
"So it's fun to shoot me out of the cannon?"
"It was a blast. Don't act like you didn't like it either."
"TAG! I got you, Stephanie!"
A bright light flashed in Stephanie's eyes and she shielded her face. Ziggy cheered his own success while Trixie laughed beside him.
"You weren't even hiding, Pinky, do you not understand how flashlight tag works?"
"It really is fun!" Ziggy said. "I think I'm ready to hide in the dark now too. Do you want to be the seeker this time, Stephanie?"
"I think we better go back to my uncle's house," Stephanie quickly declined. There was no telling who else she might end up finding... or what it was they were playing.