I wrote this one-shot ages ago, but left it sitting in my documents, so I tacked on an ending and I'm uploading it now. Enjoy!
Severa left her apartment and headed down into the courtyard, looking rather sullen. Why was that?
She'd accidentally left something cooking for too long while she browsed the internet, and now the fire alarm had gone off, causing an evacuation of her whole complex. And it was entirely her fault.
When she made it to the courtyard, she saw a few of her friends from neighbouring apartments standing around as well, and she went over to them, trying to look natural.
"Hey guys, do you know what's going on?" Severa asked, and the three people there, Cynthia, Kjelle and Inigo, turned to her.
"We're not sure if it's a drill or an actual fire. No one's told us anything," Cynthia replied, frowning. "I was just about to make dinner, too, so I hope this doesn't last too long so I can eat."
"I thought I smelled smoke when I was coming downstairs, but it doesn't look like there's a fire from out here," Kjelle added, and Severa felt a pang of panic, because Kjelle lived rather close to her.
"Once everyone's out, they'll tell us what's going on," Inigo said, looking around. "Where's Gerome, anyway?"
"I didn't see him on my way here, so maybe he's out here somewhere?" Severa suggested, also looking around for their missing friend. Soon enough, Gerome joined their group, looking annoyed.
"I heard what had happened before I came over to you guys. Apparently, some idiot burned something bad enough that the smoke set off the fire alarm." Gerome reported, and Severa cringed.
"At least it isn't a real fire, that'd be so scary!" Cynthia exclaimed, and everyone nodded in agreement.
"Once they find the culprit, we'll probably be allowed to go back inside. They'd better own up soon, it's cold out here," Kjelle said, rubbing her bare arms, since she was only wearing a tank top. Working out, Severa figured.
"What do you think will happen to the guy that did it?" Severa asked, mostly to see what she was potentially in for and whether or not she should own up.
"They'll probably have to pay a fine if the fire department was contacted, but I can't see it being any more than a warning otherwise." Inigo shrugged. Severa gulped, hoping that the former hadn't happened.
"Alright, everyone, listen up!" The sound of the complex manager's voice rung out through the courtyard, and Severa and her friends turned to see him standing in front of the building with a megaphone. "The fire alarm went off because someone burned something, which produced a lot of smoke. Now, if the person responsible could step forward, we can get things settled and you can all return to your rooms." There was a long silence as everyone waited for the guilty party to move. However, Severa stood very still, looking directly forward and avoiding all eye contact. She felt urged to confess, but she fought it because she didn't want to embarrass herself in front of her friends. "No one's going to step forward? Alright, I guess we're all staying outside for a little longer." A round of groans filled the courtyard, Severa making sure to join in.
"This is so stupid! Why do we have to stay outside, knowing that we're all innocent, because someone won't man up?" Severa complained, aware of how hypocritical she was being. Her mother would be so disappointed in her. Not that she cared for her opinion, of course.
"Yeah, I'm hungry! I'd suggest going out to get something to eat, but I don't have my wallet on me." Cynthia frowned, looking wistfully up at her apartment.
"Ha, you sound like my dad, the way you're carrying on about eating." Kjelle chuckled, Cynthia pouting. "And besides, I doubt we'd be allowed to leave anyway, just as a precaution in case the guy responsible tries to run."
"I'm just glad that I already ate." Inigo said, and everyone chimed in to agree.
"What, you've all had dinner already?! Man, you all eat early…" Cynthia sighed.
"It's almost 6:30, that's a normal dinner time, Cynthia," Gerome commented, and Cynthia pouted again.
"Whatever, you guys! I'm just gonna talk to Lucy, at least she supports me." Cynthia huffed, pulling out her phone and starting to text. Severa and Gerome also pulled out their phones, and their group went quiet as they all did their own thing.
"What's taking so long? I'll have to have a shorter work out tonight because of this." Kjelle spoke up after about ten minutes, and the people looking at their phones looked up to re-join the conversation.
"You weren't already working out?" Severa asked.
"I'd been going for about ten minutes before the alarm went off, so not really. Hardly enough to work up a sweat, anyway." Kjelle shrugged.
"I was working on my essay that's due at the end of the week. I hope I can get back into it when we're allowed to go," Inigo commented.
"Oh, cool! What's your topic?" Cynthia asked, looking interested.
"The evolution of dance during the 20th century. It's very interesting, and cool to see how bits and pieces of each style fit into modern dance," Inigo replied, Cynthia nodding as he spoke.
"That sounds cool! I'd love to read it when you're done." Cynthia beamed, and Inigo flushed.
"Uh, sure. I could use the feedback." Inigo scratched the back of his head awkwardly, not used to the praise.
"Wow, that's cool and all, but essays are totally boring. Why'd you choose a theory class at college when you could just join a dance class and learn there?" Severa chipped in rudely.
"Maybe because it's useful to know the theory behind dance so I can master it? As for a dance class, well…" Inigo laughed awkwardly. "I've been considering joining the dance club at college, but I'm too nervous to actually do it. I feel like they'd just find me weird."
"I mean, you are weird, but you're not a bad dancer, so you'd fit in well." Severa shrugged, and then she realised that she was being too nice. Didn't want him to flirt with her or something. "Not that I care, I'm just saying."
"Oh. Thanks, Severa," Inigo said, looking stunned. "I'll sign up tomorrow, then."
"Ha, I never thought I'd see the day that Severa would be encouraging." Kjelle smirked, and Severa looked to see that Cynthia was holding her hands over her mouth and trying not to giggle, and even Gerome looked amused.
"Come on, guys. Like I care if Inigo signs up or not, I was just saying!" Severa exclaimed, trying to preserve her image, but her friends just laughed at her, so she pouted.
"Attention, please!" The complex manager's voice rang out, and the group went quiet and turned to face him. "Since the person responsible doesn't seem to want to own up, we're just going to have to search every apartment. I hope none of you have anything that you want to keep private out on display." Cries of indignation rang out, and Severa paled. She didn't have anything bad unhidden, but since she was going to be found out anyway, if she let them go through with it, everyone would be upset with her.
"Oh gods, this can't be happening…" Everyone turned as Gerome spoke, and Severa was surprised that he looked nervous.
"What's wrong, Gerome?" Inigo asked curiously, and Gerome turned to him.
"I left something out that's a bit embarrassing if someone saw it, that's all." Gerome grimaced, and Severa felt a bit guilty for his current state. She decided that she was going to own up after all, but she would need to find a good time to slip away unnoticed.
"Don't worry, Gerome! It's not like they're going to parade everyone's embarrassing stuff around for everyone to see!" Cynthia attempted to reassure Gerome, but it looked like it had the opposite effect, as Gerome's face flushed. Severa took the opportunity to slip away when everyone's attention was off her, and she made her way through the crowd to the complex manager, who looked like he was about to tell the security guards with him to start searching.
"Wait! I did it! I set off the fire alarm," Severa called, and murmurs could be heard from the people closest to her as the complex manager turned to her. "I was cooking something and got distracted, and it burning caused enough smoke to set off the fire alarm, I guess. Sorry."
"Knowing you, I can't say I'm too surprised that you're responsible," he said, and Severa hung her head in shame. "You're lucky that I didn't call the fire department, Severa, or it'd be quite a large fine that you'd have to pay. As it stands, I can't let you go unpunished for the false alarm, so I regret to inform you that I have to give you a warning. Two more and I'll be forced to evict you."
"I understand, and this won't happen again." Severa looked up and tried to look as apologetic as she could. The complex manager smiled at her.
"I know you will. You're not a bad tenant, so I believe you. Now go, I won't shame you in front of everyone," he said, and Severa slipped back into the crowd as he lifted the megaphone to his mouth again. "The person responsible has admitted what they did, so no one's apartment has to be searched. You can all return to your apartments now. Have a good night, everyone!" As the crowd dispersed, Severa made it back to her friends, who were chatting.
"Hey, Severa's back! Where did you go?" Cynthia asked upon noticing the girl, and Severa panicked a little as everyone looked at her.
"I dropped one of my earrings, so I went looking for it. Found it, as you can see." Severa lied, bringing a hand up to her right ear and tapping the earring there, a small wing that dangled from a stud in her ear.
"Oh, I'm glad you found it! They're so pretty!" Cynthia said, and Severa smiled.
"Yeah, even though my mother and I don't really get along, I like these earrings she gave me, so it would have sucked to lose it." Severa replied, glad that the lie was bought, judging by everyone else nodding or smiling.
"Well, I've got that essay to work on, so I'm heading back to my apartment. Night, everyone," Inigo said, waving as he went inside, everyone waving back.
"I've got that work out to salvage, too, so I'm going back to that. See you tomorrow." Kjelle excused herself as well, and Gerome also disappeared without a word, leaving Severa and Cynthia together.
"I still need to cook dinner, and I'm starving! I'll see you tomorrow, Severa!" Cynthia waved as she went inside, and Severa, with no reason to stay outside, went back to her apartment as well. Once she'd closed the door behind her, she let out a sigh of relief. She'd barely gotten out of that one. Her friends would have been so annoyed if they'd found out she was the cause of the alarm. As it stood, she had a pot to wash, and she needed to get rid of the smoky smell. Severa got to work, making a note not to let herself get distracted while something was cooking again.