Before The Dark Times

By

End Of Grace

A/N: Hello all. I hope you are keeping safe and well in these troubled times. I know it's hard for all of us right now and I will try and update a lot more if I can, to try and keep your spirits up.

Chapter 3: Magic

She sat on a small bench, on a cliffside, looking over the sea. She sat there crying as she did most days, for various reasons. One of her many dolls broke, she was lonely, she was bored, The Butler was late with her food, she was forced to wear the same old boring dress day after day and so on. It had been so long since she saw another person other than the Butler, she was aware there was someone else in the house but he was not allowed to interact with her and vice versa, on mother's orders. She wondered when she last saw her mother, it had been a long time she knew, but she had an important job for the Lady and could not always come back to visit. Papa was gone too. He had gone to see the Lady about letting her go out and see the world for a little while and had not returned. Deep down she was worried something had happened to him. He and the Lady often butted heads over her, as did he and mother, but he always came back, apologized for not being able to change their minds and sat and played with her. She missed him the most and hoped the Lady was not being too horrible to him. She hated the Lady and didn't trust her, neither did her papa, but mother took to her instantly and agreed with whatever the Lady wanted. Soon they were living in a really large posh house and she had all the dolls she could play with while her mother had all the jewellery and wealth she wanted, papa went along just to make her happy even though he wasn't. She looked down at the broken doll beside her. It was the newest one but it was so poorly made, it had not lasted long, she sighed and placed her hand on it and watched as it turned to dust and blew away in the wind.

"Madam?"

She gritted her teeth, her whole body stiffened as she gripped the bench tightly.

"What?" she hissed. She didn't need to look around to know who it was, it was the Butler, as always.

"You must return to the Nest now madam. Dinner is about to be served"

"Fish fingers...again?"

"Yes madam" was the only thing the Butler knew how to cook, at least without ruining it.

"I want to stay here for now…" she said as she looked over at the horizon. Suddenly she was levitating over the ground. She turned and growled at the Butler who simply continued on his way back to the Nest with her floating behind her. She hated the nest. She hated the Butler but above all, she hated having powers that made it necessary for her to be stuck here.

-Line Break-

Tap and Tin is the local bar where the humans of the Freddy Fazbear group go to socialize with their fellow humans and be normal...well as normal as they could get anyway. The Bar was quiet during these hours and that is what the group liked, as they gathered around their usual table and pulled up an extra chair to place the baby carrier on, as the barman bought over their order, having long ago committed it to memory.

"Your little boy there is growing like a weed I swear," he said jovially as he looks down at the small boy in the carrier. The boy looked up at him and gave him a crooked smile.

"You're telling me" smiled Connie "I swear I blink and he goes up by two sizes"

"If you need to warm anything up for him let me know, we've got a microwave out the back if you need it for milk" The barkeeper wouldn't usually offer this but the group were a nice happy group and never caused any trouble, plus they always paid their tab on time, and unlike most were always polite and friendly.

"Oh Thank you very much, I'll let you know but the little monster had his feed before we left so hopefully he'll be alright, though I've noticed that he's a bit of a glutton like his dad and his uncles."

The Barkeeper laughed as the men at the table all booed and moaned at the laughing Connie and left them to it, making a small note to check on them later for refills.

"Heard from Meg the other day," said Jeremy, "she rang Freddy's thinking you would be there Mike, said everything is coming along well and the staff have been given strict instructions on how they're meant to treat the animatronics at the park"

"Any mention of our friends?" Mike asked, not daring to use Matt's name in public, you never know who would overhear.

"Doing well, they come over mostly at night and pick up their orders and such, says he and Jupitar bicker like a married couple"

"Speaking of bickering like old married couples, have you and Freddy made up yet Mark?"

Jack asked as he looked over at the dark-haired guard who pushed his glasses up his nose and snorted.

"I don't know what you're on about," said Mark sourly.

"Please! If the tension were any thicker when the two of you are in the same room you could cut it with a knife" said Jeremy as he took a sip from his pint "You know Freddy didn't mean anything by it, Mark. He was probably thinking of an excuse to get Tiny out of there and remembered how good you were with, Shadow, Sooty and the Fredlings when they were all cubs, you remember, when you had them all dressed as security officers"

"I know that!" Mark snapped "and that wasn't what he meant! He meant I was incompetent, he has always thought that! Can we change the subject, please? Like why were we on high alert for a while?"

All eyes turned to Mike, who paled slightly, he had been waiting for this, they were going to ask and he would lie and they would see right through him and then demand the truth and then the shit would fly. Looking back on his actions now, he could see he had been stupid and even gullible, but really what else could he have done? He didn't know anything about the Joys of Creations and even after talking to Afton senior, he was even more confused about it but knew from Net's warning that it was dangerous.

"Ok. I know you all think I'm being overprotective…"

"It's not that we don't believe you...or the kids...but we just don't see anyone…" Connie quickly assured Mike.

"Some of the adults are complaining about the animatronics are guarding the car parks" added Mark "though Foxy agrees with you Mike, better be safe than sorry"

"But that doesn't change the fact that we could be dealing with something that we can not fight since we can't see them," said Jeremy "Though I'm wondering how the hell you can see them through, Mike? Is it part of that...you know...thing…"

"Could be…"

"But how can you see them now? I mean….could you see them before? Have you gotten stronger in some way?" Connie asked and then thought out loud with worry "Did something happen at Critter County? Could Afton put a curse on you or something?"

Mike looked down at the table, not meeting their eyes, but he could feel them staring and noticing the air around the table becoming both tense and sad. Jeremy sighed and leaned back in his seat, Jack and Connie gripped each other's hands while Mark leaned forward and crossed his arms on the table.

"Mike," he said softly "Talk to us"

Mike took a deep breath and sat up straight "I spoke to Afton at Critter County about the Joys of Creation, he was self-taught while he said I had a natural talent. He said the more souls he had the more powerful he became and the reason his son wanted more souls was to cast a very powerful spell...one that would lock all the souls and people within an...I don't know... an alternate reality or bubble where he would be in charge"

"You mean he was going to make Critter County his own amusement park with all those kids trapped inside those animatronics?" said Jack as he swallowed a lump in his throat.

Mike nodded "Afton said if I wanted to release the souls from their prisons I had to learn more about the Joys of Creation and he said he would...teach me…"

The other four adults jolted in their seats, gapping at Mike, as dread dripped into their souls.

"He said I wouldn't be able to release them because I couldn't see them or the state of them, the colour and dates…"

"Fuck Mike! You fucking Listened to him! You idiot!" Jeremy hissed quietly so no one could hear him swear.

"I know that now! But at the time I...I don't know...I just wanted to rescue the kids...and Afton was right I needed to know how to see souls properly, unlock more of my gift as he said to do it"

"So what? You're seeing ghosts all the time now?" Mark asked, "You said something about colour and dates…"

Mike looked around the bar and then pointed to an old man at the back drinking a pint of beer.

"See that old man back there? He was born October seventh 1943, his soul is mostly white with a few grey areas. It has a very bright blue hue to it too, he's lonely, most likely lives alone and has hardly if no family to speak of"

"So you're saying you can now see people's souls...even if they're alive?" said Connie, her heart thumping hard in her chest. "Even ours?"

Mike cast his eyes down and nodded.

"But you can turn it off, right? It's not like you have to see it all the time right?" said Mark in a hopeful voice.

"That was the one thing Afton didn't tell me," said Mike with a sad smile. "After I lost consciousness after performing that spell I thought it would just turn off but I opened my eyes and I could still see everything. It's also why I can see whatever it is that tried to snatch that child from Freddy's car park"

"Wait, wait, wait a second. You're saying that even now, Right now, you can see the dates we were born over our heads, the colour of our souls and whatever...since Critter County and you didn't tell us?" growled Jeremy.

Connie looked horrified while Jack's face went blank. Mark looked really upset while Jeremy was pissed.

"I'm going to get another round," said Jeremy as he stormed up to the bar, Jack got up and followed him, no doubt trying to calm him down while Connie moved around the table and hugged Mike tightly.

"Sorry I didn't tell you," Mike said softly "I knew it would upset you…"

"I'm more upset that you thought that you shouldn't tell us about it and pissed at you for taking Afton at his word. This is why we don't let you go off on your own! Plus it sets a bad example for James when it comes to the talk about dealing with strangers"

"Anyway, turns out it is a good thing that you do have that sight thing, otherwise kids might have started disappearing again," said Mark patting Mike on the back "And you'll be happy to know, I've got just the thing to protect the pizzerias!"

"I'm not sure I like the sound of that," said Mike as Jack and Jeremy came back over to the table. They placed the drinks down and Jack sat back down in his seat while Jeremy paused for a moment and then slapped Mike hard on the back of the head.

"You pull any more of this hocus pocus crap without informing us first, I will beat the shit out of you before tattling on you to your mother" Jeremy warned as he took Connie's old seat.

"Understood sir" Mike moaned as he rubbed the back of his head. "So, Mark here reckons he's got something that will protect the pizzerias, so what is it?"

Mark gave a knowing smile and reached for a bag he had bought and lifted it to the table to show.

"Horseshoes?" Said Jack as he lifted one from the bag.

"Not just any old horseshoes! IRON horseshoes" said Mark smugly. "I've done my research and ever since Critter County I've been looking up stuff to protect me from the supernatural stuff as well as the normal and or zombie apocalypse"

"Seriously Mark? Zombie apocalypse?" said Jack trying not to laugh.

"Hey, when the shit hits the fan at the end of the world, you'll be glad to have a friend like me, I've got tinned food, guns, back up generators, and now these babies!" said Mark proudly as he held up the horseshoe.

"Ok I'll bite, why are horseshoes going to save the pizzerias?" said Jeremy as he drank his pint.

"As far back as the eighth century, people have hung horseshoes over their front doors as a sign of good luck and a way to ward off evil spirits. One story goes that the devil went to a blacksmith to be shod, the blacksmith took two hot shoes and nailed them to the devil's feet. The devil screamed in pain and ripped them off and declared he would never go near them again. Secondly, it's a known fact that things like fairies, goblins and other such creatures are weak against iron. It works the same way silver works on werewolves. We hang one of these little beauties above the doors of pizzerias and anything supernatural won't be able to get in"

"Sounds like you've done your homework Mark" smiled Mike "and if it works, a little bonus might be in order"

"Only a little one? At least reimburse me for the shoes! They weren't cheap!" Mark moaned dramatically, getting both his shoulders punched by Jeremy and Jack.

"So it will stop them from entering the pizzeria...but what about the car parks?" Connie asked, holding up one of the horseshoes.

"I figure since the car parks are a part of the pizzerias they will be part of the protection package. If not...will have to figure something else out" said Mark with a slight shrug. "Maybe put iron spikes in the corners?"

"I'm still not liking the idea of not being able to see our enemy though...if it is only one. It could be a whole group for all we knew" said Jeremy.

"What about that spell you learnt from Afton?" said Jack "Maybe we can learn it…"

"Mike could only use it because he's got magic inside of him, Afton had to kill a lot of kids and use their souls for him to have that kind of power...and if it means seeing what Mike is seeing...I for one would rather not. No offence Mike" said Connie.

"None taken but Jeremy is right, it's no good fighting an enemy that only I can see, so I need to work on something for you guys and maybe the animatronics as well…" said Mike as his phone beeped with a message. "It's Adam, he says sorry for not turning up, his mom caught him and is making him busy with chores"

"Ouch, she's still really mad about Critter County?"

"Yep and is really trying to get him to take on a new job but he's deliberately failing the interviews so he doesn't have too, but I think his mom might be catching on to that," said Mike as he put his phone back in his pocket.

"What can you do? His mother won't listen to reason…" said Mark sadly.

-Line Break-

Adam slammed his front door a little more than he should have but damn it he was pissed off. He had wanted to have a drink with the guys and see baby James, but the moment he had told his mom about it, suddenly the rubbish needed taking out, the dishes needed putting away, could he gather up the washing from the bedrooms while she was hovering and then could he help her unblock the hover. It was stupid! She knew he was going out! Why wait until the last second to get him to help unless she was trying to stop him from seeing the gang. Ever since Critter County she had turned into a complete control freak, needing to know where he was all the time, who he was with and worst of all, practically trying to force him to get another job. He got it, he did, he did something stupid but she had already grounded him for that right? It wasn't like his job was dangerous...ok that one time with Balloria but she was possessed by an angry spirit at the time and just because their old landlord was a dumbass that went off on his own and got killed doesn't mean it was going to happen to him. Adam was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't see the woman in front of him until he walked into her and the box she was carrying went over the floor.

"Hey!" she called out indignity as she scrambled to pick up her belongings.

"Oh god, I'm so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going" said Adam as he knelt to help her.

"It's fine. I take it you're one of my tenants? Do you live alone?" she asked, pushing up her glasses.

"Er no, um, I live with my mom and siblings down the hall at the end. Did you say "My Tenants?" does that mean…?"

"I'm your new landlord? Yes. I am. You can call me Ms Venessa. Please tell your mom that I will be sending out a letter about me taking over and about a few changes I wish to enact soon"

"What? Like raising the rent or something?" Adam asked with some concern.

"No, nothing like that, this area isn't the safest of places, so I will be beefing up security here. Keycode to get in and such"

"Oh then sure, I'm sure everyone will be on board with that," said Adam when he noticed something still on the floor. "Oh hey you dropped this"

Adam picked up a rabbit-shaped mask but when he turned it around to look at it, the deranged smiling image made his stomach turn. It was creepy as hell. More like a Halloween mask out of a creepy horror slash movie. Venessa snatched it out of his hands and glared at him for a moment before making her face blank and turning back to her apartment.

"Thank you. I'm sure to see you soon" and with that, she slammed the door shut.

"Weird and creepy. Just great! Oh CRAP! I'm going to miss my bus!" Adam cried out as he ran down the stairs. Inside old McBear's apartment, Venessa sighed and picked up the mask and slipped it on. The mask's eyes glowed red.

"Sir? Sir, I'm here. Like you instructed. No. No problems. I just met one of the tenants, a kid, nothing to worry about. According to the information I received from the realtor, Mr Schmidt lives on this level. Yes, I will be careful, I will follow the plan. I will not fail you"

-Line Break-

Mr Purohit pushed down his hair on his thinning top and checked his breath before polity knocking on the Lady's door. He had a soft "Enter" and quickly checked his suit for any wrinkles before opening the door and going into the Lady's chambers. Her rooms were dark and surrounded by rich furniture, The Lady sat like a queen on her throne as Purohit knelt before her.

"Why have you come to bother me?" her voice was rich and sharp, it felt like she was about to pierce him with her words should he bore her.

"I thought you would care for an update, my Lady. Everything is on its way to being ready before scheduled. Mr Schmidt has already sent in the paperwork for the pizzeria that will draw hundreds of children to the Mall for you to take your pick. There will be plenty of dark spaces, blind spots for the security cameras, lots of little hidden doors…"

"Spare me your gloating and get to the point if you have one!" she snapped.

Purohit took out a handkerchief and patted his brow that was covered in sweat "Well...um...you see, I thought, since we're running ahead of schedule, you wouldn't mind...perhaps...a small remuneration for services rendered?"

The lady sat staring at him for a while saying nothing, sweat started to pour out of him from every pore, had he gone too far? He knew they were running thin on...product... hence the need for the mall but still he was sure she could spare him a little something, he was a most loyal servant after all.

"I suppose a small thank you is in order for all your hard work…" The Lady rose from her seat with the grace of a bird of prey and seemed to float across the floor to a nearby large birdcage that had a black sheet covering it. There was a loud whimper as her hand reached in and pulled out a small child. He couldn't tell the gender, it was too thin and dirty to tell anyway, not that it mattered. The lights flickered and the room went so cold that Purohit could see his breath, as the Lady released the child only for it to float in the air as it cried out for help. The Lady held her hand out and around the child, the room shook violently nearly knocking Purohit to the floor as he watches in both fascination and horror, as the child turned and twisted and morphed into a nasty gnome and then screamed as that foam decayed and turned into a small black mass while a whirling light floated above it. The black mass fell to the floor without a sound and took the outline shape of the child it had once been but now nothing more than a shadow. The Lady twirled the light orb into a glass bottle and handed it over to Purohit.

"Remember, only small doses, take more than that and you will have to come up with some excuse to your appearance"

"Most people believe in cosmetic surgery these days…" said Purohit offhandedly as he went to take the bottle but the Lady pulled it back. He looked up at her white masked face as she boarded down on him expectantly. He quickly remembered himself and fell to his hands and knees.

"A thousand pardons my Lady, please excuse my excitement, I meant no disrespect" he begged as he watched the bottle as if hypnotized by its contents.

"Very well. See it doesn't happen again. Otherwise…." She let go of the bottle, Purohit drives across the floor to catch it in his sweaty hands and then clutched it to his chest for safety.

"My Thanks, oh great and merciful Lady, I am but your humble servant"

The Lady bent slightly and took one of Purohit's hands.

"Yes, you are, aren't you, obedient...loyal?" There was a questioning tone to her voice as Purohit looked horrified as his trapped hand began to age in front of him. It had withered to almost bone, his rings dangled helplessly, the hairs long and white with age and what skin was left was wrinkled and almost grey.

"YES! YES! I AM LOYAL!" he cried as he tried to pull away as the ageing started to spread down to his wrist and his arm.

The Lady waited for a few moments before letting go and standing up straight.

"Good. That is all I wanted to hear. Do not let me detain you, Mr Purohit. I'm sure you are a busy man"

"Yes. Yes, My Lady, and Thank you for your time and your generosity, I will continue to be your most loyal of servants" Purohit bowed repeatedly as he backed out of her rooms. Once the door was shut, he ran as fast as his legs could carry him, through the leaking corridors, through the plush and glamorous dining halls, to the small yacht that was waiting for him outside. He sat panting in the small cabin clutching the bottle tightly as the captain sailed them back. He looked down at his hand, it was back to normal, but still shaking slightly from the horror he had just seen. He wiped his brow with his handkerchief and took a moment to calm down before he undid the bottle. He took a large swig and slammed the bottle lid back to make sure none escaped. He put the bottle down and pulled out a small hand mirror and looked. Grey hairs were turning black, wrinkles were disappearing, skin tightening and his waist reclined but only slightly. He looked about fifteen years younger, not too bad, maybe he should take another sip? No, the Lady said no to waste it and he would not, she had been rather stringy as of late but that was mainly down to not being able to get children as often as they wanted. That was the problem these days, too much technology, not enough innocence, plus it was amazing that they were people that LIKED having children. It astounded him it really did. They were nasty, demanding, expensive things that ruined your life. Well, that was not for him. He was going to live a long life, a long, good looking life, one that required him to uphold his end of the deal and supply children for the Mau.

The Lady sighed heavily with fatigue as she sat at her vanity. Making that elixir always made her tired. Not that the little pig truly deserved it, but he had been helpful and if his mall plan works, they wouldn't need to pay the orphanages or the child snatches off. She looked down at the bills and the books and sighed. There were not enough children for the next feast and they were still cleaning out the bedrooms from killing the guests, though thankfully no one had noticed anyone going missing. Yet what annoyed her most of all was the lack of help her helpers were, namely the Teacher and the Hunter. The Teacher had sent in at least a few results of her work while the Hunter had turned up empty. Damn it! They needed children! It was what their customers were paying a ludicrous amount of money for. She sighed again and placed her delicate hand against her masked face. If you wanted a job done right you had to do it yourself.

-Line Break-

It was early evening at the Nightmare, far in the back rooms where Mike's office was, laid the twin animatronic girls while Mike and Jack did the final checks on their bodies before rebooting them.

"Thanks for the help Jack," said Mike as he placed the red wig back on Belle. "It's helped. Though shouldn't you be helping with James?"

"Well, let's just say he's dropped one hell of a stinker, best to let the animatronics clean up that mess," said Jack pulling a face "The smell alone makes me want to puke"

"Seriously? You need to get used to it Jack because when it comes to cleaning the Nightmare animatronics I don't want to be scooping shit out of their finger joints' 'said Mike as he went over to Baby and placed on her new red hairpiece. Jack was both amazed and a little freaked out by the twin girls' new appearances. All through their paint jobs were the same as before along with their matching red dresses, they were now a lot slimmer and agile and more human in faceplates as well much like the Tony's. The one with the major differences now was Baby with her matching red hair and blue optics rather than green. It was about the only thing Mike could change about Baby, her physical appearance, as her processor was sealed up tighter than Fort Knox. Nothing Mike tried could get him inside her mind and while Baby was capable of learning much like the others, he couldn't give her virus software or upgrade any of her programs, which meant she would be mentally a child forever, though that wasn't a problem really, he wished he could give her a choice.

"Ok, let's boot them up and see how they like their new bodies," said Mike as he flipped Baby's switch and Jack did Belle. Both girls began to shake, but something odd happened to Baby, her hair changed...it went brown and straightened out its curls, her blue optics blinked out and flashed back on dark green instead.

"Mike…? Did you…?" Jack asked as he swallowed the lump that foamed in his throat.

"Nope...and not a word of it now, we'll talk later," said Mike as he placed a large smile on his face as the girls turned and looked at him. "How are my girls?"

"Daddy" "Mummy" they cheered happily both.

"Like your new bodies?"

They looked at each other and then down at their bodies, taking in each detail and wiggling their joints.

"We're slim! We look like supermodels!" said Baby excitedly as she jumped down off the table and wobbled slightly not used to the change in her weight and gravity.

"Easy! Easy! It's going to take a little while to get used to your new bodies. Belle, you jump down too and tell me who you feel" said Mike as he took Baby's arm in his hand.

Belle stepped down and waited until she found her centre of gravity in her new body. She looked over at Baby and tilted her head.

"I thought you were going to make Baby and I look the same?"

"Well, I did…" Mike nervously laughed not looking at Jack "But then I realized if I did that, I wouldn't know which one of you was which, and all the trouble you would cause if I did make you too alike, besides I think it's nice that you're both so unique"

Both girls giggled and hugged Mike tightly before taking each other's servos and running off to show everyone their new bodies as Mike slunk down on the workbench.

"Mike...I don't know what to say but...damn...that was…." Jack spluttered with great unease "I don't like this magic stuff"

"You and me both," said Mike. "Did you place the horseshoe up on the front door?"

"As soon as we got back from Tap and Tins. Not going to take any chances" said Jack. "Connie is putting salt across the doorway too, supposed to stop witches and the like from getting in too"

"I hope it works. We might be overprotective right now but it's better safe than sorry"

-Line Break-

Wally looked at the black puddle in annoyance. He slammed his mop down and tried to mop up the spill but the black puddle moved out of the mop's way. Yes, it sounds crazy but it was true, the puddle would not be mopped up. He sighed loudly. He was thinking of packing this job in. Sure work was hard to come by these days but damn it there was something weird going on here and those GENTS guys were behind it. Acting like big I am and thinking their shit doesn't stink, he cleaned the toilets here and he knew who stank out the worst and it was certainly them. The odd thing was...well...there were a lot of them at one point, say about a week and a half or two, and now it seemed like they were on a skeleton crew. There hadn't been any layoffs, he would have heard about it, but no one knew anything and everyone was keeping their heads down. Now that he thought about it, other people were "missing" too, he hadn't seen Suzie in a while and she hadn't cleaned out her locker or anything, so where was she? Suddenly his mop tugged in his hands and he looked down to see the ink wrapping itself around the head and was now climbing up the stick. He tried to wave the black ink off but it held fast and continued to climb upwards towards his hands.

"WALLY! DROP IT! DROP IT NOW!" screamed a deep southern voice when two large hands grabbed him and pulled him away as he dropped the mop. Wally let out a small yelp and turned to see Norman's frightened face.

"Norman! What the hell is wrong with….?"

Norman said nothing but pointed towards the fallen mop. Wally turned back around to look and gave a small gasp. There was nothing there but an inky blob just like before, only this time it was in the oddly shaped shape of what his mop had looked like. A scream broke through their stunned silence and seemed to rattle the walls of the studio with its pain. Dust flowed everywhere from the ceilings, walls and floors, as if the very building was crying out, and to Wally and Norman's horror, ink thick and black started to bleed from the walls and headed straight for them.

"RUN" shouted Norman as he started running towards the stairs, Wally running after him as the ink started to flood the floor and chase after them. Wally tripped on the step and looked behind him and noticed the ink rising over the stairs reaching out like a pair of hands to pull him back. Norman grabbed Wally's arm and pulled him up the stairs and slammed the door shut and continued to run until they were in the projector room panting for breath.

"What the hell was that? And that scream? What the heck is going on here Norman?" Wally panted looking around, mostly at the floor.

"That was the scream of the devil Wally, the boss man and those fellows from Gent are messing with stuff they do not understand or can control," said Norman. "If I was you, Wally, I'd stay on the upper floors near the light and near the exits"

"You don't have to tell me twice! I'm out of here!" said Wally as he turned and started to run towards the lift leaving Norman behind with his projectors. Another painful scream rocked the lower floors as Norman shook his head sadly.

"The Bossman has made enemies with the Devil. Gods only know what will happen to us all when he gets out"

-Line Break-

Henry smiled down at his drawings and flipped through them to see the images move. He had more or less finished the first half of the first Freddy cartoon. He just needed to scan his pictures into the computer and do all the final touches, then add the music and the few audio clips Mike had sent him by emails. He felt his mobile ring in his trouser pocket. Must be Jeremy, he always rang to say he was going and asked if he needed a lift or wanted to go for a drink, so he pulled out his phone without looking at it and held it to his ear.

"Hey Jeremy, I'm almost done…"

"Henry it's me, Joey…"

Henry froze. He hadn't spoken to Joey in months. Hell, he hadn't even spoken to him when he left, knowing that if he had, he probably would not have left.

"Joey…"

"Henry, don't you think it's time you come home? I'm missing you, I can't find anything, I'm struggling to get around, come home already and we can sort out whatever the problem is" That was Joey all over. Always thinking it was something else that was the problem and not him, not to mention trying to guilt-trip him into going back because he was stuck in a wheelchair and couldn't do much on his own.

"I've been putting on so much weight! Can't go shopping and such, so I'm relying on takeaways. Don't think I've seen a salad for weeks" Joey laughed "Now, you tell me where you are and I'll send a car for you to bring you home"

"Sorry, Joey. I can't come back. I'm in the middle of a new project…"

"What? What project? Who hired you? I'll double it! Triple it!" snapped Joey "This is your home Henry and you're just going to abandon it? Abandon ME! And what about Bendy huh? What is he going to do without you?"

Henry was shaking, he was so angry and confused, he didn't know what to say. Joey was the bad guy here not him...right? He was the one cheating on him with a voice actress right? And it wasn't the first time either! This was so like Joey!

"I'm sure there is enough in the business to hire more animators to replace me though I doubt they will put in the same amount of hours that I did for you. If you are short of cash then I'm sure you can suck the dick of one of "Your" many investors I've caught you with and I'm sure Ms Campbell will be more than happy to look after you"

There was silence on the line for a while then a groan, deep and mournful, but he wasn't buying it this time, he had heard it all before.

"Henry, I told you, there was nothing between me and that guy. I fell out of my seat, I was merry on a couple of drinks and just landed face-first into his lap. As for Ms Campbell, it was a business dinner and she has since then left our employment. Now, are you going to stop being so stubborn and making up stories of new projects and come home already?"

That got Henry's back up. For some reason, Joey seemed to think that he was incapable of doing anything on his own, without his help or guidance. Joey seemed to forget as he always did, that he was the dreamer with the ideas while he dealt with all the rest. He made sure there was money in the tin when it was called for, bills were paid and the cartoons were always on time. Joey may be the mouth and face of the studio but Henry had been the brains and the heart of it.

"I said No Joey. I've got a wonderful office here, new friends and a really good project with a boss that cares for his employees. Now if you don't mind I need to get back to work…"

"Work? Work! HA! Do you think your silly little drawings are going to be good enough for whatever two-bit hack you're working for? Are you forgetting how it was my ideas to change Bendy that made him into the star he is? Don't fool yourself, Henry! Without me your nothing..."

Whatever Joey was going to say was cut off as Henry snapped his phone shut and threw it across the room where it hit the far wall with a thump and fell to the floor in a couple of pieces. Tears were already falling down his face and his heart was thumping hard in his chest. Joey always knew what buttons to press to hurt him. To make him feel small and unsure. He tried to wipe his face clean but more tears came out. Damn it! What was worse, that if Joey had said he loved him and said something about making their partnership work, or even simply apologized, Henry knew that he would have packed up his things and gone back, sending the finished project for Freddy's by Email, because he still loved Joey with all his heart and it hurt like hell. He slumped in his seat and looked at the computer. It said it would be finished for another hour or two and the store was closing at about the same time. Resting his head in his arms, he closed his eyes and tried to have a small nap as the call had taken a lot out of him, soon he was snoring away as the minutes ticked by. So did the two hours and not even the evening bell that signalled for the animatronics to go to sleep woke him up from his slumber. The second bell caused him to stir slightly but it was dark so he went back to sleep. Then something heavy was shaking him awake.

"Mr Stein! You're not meant to be here. Wake up!"

Henry groaned as he opened his eyes. The room was as dark as a pit in hell. There wasn't even any light coming from outside. There was only a faint light coming off his monitor.

"Mr Stein? Are you awake?"

He looked up and his heart stopped in his chest and his eyes almost popped out of their sockets. It was a bear, with glowing black eyes and glowing white teeth with its large hand on his shoulder. Henry screamed and fell backwards off his chair and rolled helplessly into the wall behind him. The lightswitch snapped on and filled the room with light as Shadow came into the room and glared at Sooty.

"Damn it Sooty! You were meant to simply escort him out! Not scare him half to death!"

"I tried to do it gently but he took one look at me and freaked out!" snapped Sooty as he knelt and held out his servo to Henry to take. "You alright Mr Stein?"

"Just a small bump. Nothing to worry about" Henry groaned as he took Sooty's servo and got to his feet.

"You're lucky we were on duty tonight Mr Stein. If papa or uncle Freddy had found you, they would have stuffed you into an old spare suit as punishment and according to Daddy it's not one you're going to live through" said Shadow. He looked at the human's face and noticed the puffiness of his eyes, he had been crying, and his phone was on the other side of the room in pieces, something bad had happened. "Are you alright Mr Stein?"

"Yes..no...I mean...I had a call from my ex. He...said somethings...rattled me...it's nothing. I apologize Shadow, Sooty, it was not my intent to break the rules. I simply fell asleep and lost track of time"

Shadow and Sooty shared a look, Henry wondered if they could communicate over wifi or radio to each other without humans hearing, Sooty sighed and looked at Henry with slight concern.

"I'll go and speak with my father and explain the situation along with Mark. I'm sure you have been told by Mr Stein, that staying here at night time without taking the five-day test is forbidden and is a sacking offence…"

Shadow punched his shoulder joint when Mr Stein hung his head and looked like he was about to cry.

"It might not be the case….I mean…this was an accident"

"It's not down to us, Shadow. Until Father stands down as head bear, it's his rules and your dad's. At least he isn't as bad as my papa was when he still functioned, otherwise Mr Stein would have already been stuffed"

Sooty left the room and Henry slumped into the chair, rubbing his face with his hands, maybe Joey was right...maybe he was useless without him. Shadow placed his servos on his shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze.

"Don't worry. Uncle Freddy may be a bit stern but I'm sure he'll understand" said Shadow softly as he looked at the computer monitor. "It says something has finished Mr Stein. Is it the cartoon?"

"Oh! Yes. Well, the first couple of minutes of it at least. Want to watch it?" Henry asked "I could do with a bit with a bit of feedback"

"Love too" sailed Shadow as he watched Henry type a few things in and a window popped up with the Freddy Fazbear lego on before fading into a pizzeria with a few kids playing with the Freddy and band song playing. A young boy is hiding under the table while voices of older boys were making threats about beating him up if they found him. The picture went black and white with a bit of audio over the top but showed the boy asleep under the table while the clock struck midnight.

"Rise and Shine gang! We've got a busy night ahead of us!" said Cartoon Freddy off-screen. The boy jumped awake and looked underneath the table cloth as the cartoon animatronics talked loudly about getting jobs done while Freddy moaned that they needed to practice their new song while walking past the table only showing their feet.

"Say now, what's going on with this table?" said cartoon Freddy as he lifted it, revealing the little boy. Both screamed when they saw one another and the little boy begs him not to hurt him.

"Now calm down kid! There is no shouting in the pizzeria after-hours" said cartoon Freddy as he helped the boy to his feet. "And there are not supposed to be kids in here after hours either. So what's your story?"

The boy explained he was hiding from bullies and ended up falling asleep under the table. Then his stomach grumbled loudly. Freddy laughed and placed his paw on the boy's shoulder.

"Let's go and see Chica, she will have my top hat if I let a visitor go hungry, she will be in the kitchen getting things ready for tomorrow, come on, this way"

Then the screen went black.

"So what do you think so far?" Henry asked as he looked over at Shadow.

"Well considering your not mean to be here Mr Stein, I must say the cartoon seems to be coming along very well"

Both Shadow and Henry jumped and turned to see Freddy in the doorway. The old brown bear did not look amused as his brow was frowning deeply.

"I must say it looks very good but then what I was expecting and I'm sure Mr Schmidt will agree. But I think you and I need to speak…Shadow, you are on arcade duty tonight, please go and make a start please"

Shadow looked a little concerned but left quickly as Freddy pulled up a chair. Henry wiped his face with a tissue and looked at the bear. He sat across from the bear and wondered what the animatronic wanted. The bear took off his top hat and rubbed his head with a sigh.

"How long were you with your ex Mr Stein? If you don't mind me asking"

"How long? Damn must be almost forty years. We both served in the war and I rescued Joey who had gotten injured. We started dating in secret shortly after he left the hospital, most people assuming I was just his carer"

"Why secret? Were you ashamed of being a couple?"

"More it was against the law and also a social taboo at least back then, people are a lot more relaxed about that sort of thing now"

"Ah, I see. I forget you humans are not as advanced as us animatronics" nodded Freddy "My mate Goldie, didn't care about things like gender and he loved me...in his way"

"Goldie? I'm sorry I don't think I have met him" said Henry as he tried to remember all the animatronics he had met.

"He...broke..almost a year ago. He was in his late sixes and refused to be upgraded for a while...he went the way he wanted to go, surrounded by family. The odd thing...since his passing, I started to realize things about our relationship that I didn't like and Goldie...he wasn't exactly faithful either…"

"You mean he...went with other animatronics?"

"More like a human, who liked him and Goldie took advantage of that. Plus most things always had to be his way and he used to pout, moan and even argue over it until we either compromised or I gave in, just to keep the peace. He would try to manipulate my emotions and even used sex to get his way"

"Sounds a lot like my Joey. Joey is all about the idea and image and when things don't go his way, he fires people and hires other people to get the job done, throwing money at his problems and never taking responsibility for his acts. I got tired of being used and making excuses for him. Tired of pretending everything was ok when it wasn't. I guess the strew was…..wait for a second….did you just say that your "mate" used to use….."Sex" to manipulate you"

"Yes. Oh Goldie was always going after "My honeypot" and I can't remember the number of times I've had to have my joints knocked back in because he got a little too rough"

Henry's face went bright red. Surely...no...they were animatronics...they didn't need to know about sex let alone know what parts to use...if they had those parts at all. Freddy chuckled loudly.

"Yes, Mr Stein. I did say sex and yes I am as are the other more than equipt for it. Why a few months ago the animatronics of all four restaurants came here for a night of...activities, with Mike, Adam and even your nephew Jeremy, all though he didn't experiment and stuck to the "Ladies"

Henry's brain felt fried and he could only nod stupidly. Jeremy and an animatronic? Ok...it was a little odd...but he was an adult and she was...an...adult? Consenting? He knew that some people like playing with toys...maybe it would be best to think of it as Jeremy having a healthy relationship with a vibrator...in the shape of a chicken. Yes. He can handle that.

"You should know now," said Freddy "Save you getting embarrassed if you catch any of us at it. We do try to be discreet but some get off on getting caught"

"Thank you for the warning," said Henry, "I think I better get back to my new apartment. Again I apologize for breaking the rules Freddy" said Henry as he picked up his bag.

"We'll let you off for now" smiled Freddy "I'll work you to the door and Mr Stein?"

"Yes?"

"If your ex starts on you again, invite him here, after-hours...We have a nice suit with lots of inner spikes for him to try"

-Line Break-

Mike climbed up the stairs slowly, his leg was killing him and he was dead tired. Dealing with Big Daddy was hard work and he got the whole wanting to be extra careful with Baby James about, but getting infrared sensors and motion sensors around the place was just asking for trouble as well as putting a huge hole in his wallet. In the end, he agreed to upgrade the camera system and placing at least one more camera outside to cover the whole of the car park. The girls' new looks had gone down well, regular customers saying that they missed them and new asking for pictures.

"When am I going to get a new look, Mister Mike?" JJ asked hopefully with a large toothy smile.

"Not for a while, I'm afraid JJ. I've got to build a whole new group of animatronics for the new pizzeria first" the little monster animatronic moaned and lowered his head and Mike felt a small pang of guilt "Tell you what JJ, you design for me what you want to look like and when I'm done with the others, you will be my top priority ok?"

The little monster boy cheered and went over to the twin girls to share his news, while Mike groaned loudly, wondering what he had gotten himself into. Now he was finally on his floor and dragging himself to his fount door. Then it happened. His back went straight, all the hairs on his body stood on end, all his survival instincts

started to tingling. He slowly pulled his cane upwards, ready to use it to defend himself as he tried to control his breathing as his heart thumped wildly in his chest. He twisted on his good leg, swung his cane around hard...at nothing. He was alone. Yet Mike knew better, years working at Freddy's had given him good instincts and they were telling him he wasn't alone and was...not so much in danger at the moment but being watched. Mike looked up and down the hallway, almost straining his eyes to see anything, but saw nothing, though his eyes kept swinging to Old McBear's door for some reason. Deciding it was probably safer in his apartment, Mike quickly got out his keys and entered his apartment and promptly locked the door. A few moments of silence followed, then the door to the old man's apartment opened and a glowing red eye peered out of the dark.

-Line Break-

It was not often Jack put his foot down and when he did, it was always a hassle because, in his home, his word came third place to his wife and then Big Daddy. He had nothing against the big black bear and saw him almost like a second father-in-law, but sometimes like many in-laws he just needed to back off a bit and let him have some private time with his little boy without him hovering over him. Connie agreed and spoke to Big Daddy who, like a troll with a toothache, finally agreed to let Jack take James out to the small park without any of the animatronics escorting them and letting them have some much-needed daddy and son bonding. So little James was wrapped up warm and bundled into the baggy, with a small mixture of soft toys and things that rattled. Freddystein placed a large bag on the table and patted Jack on the shoulder to get his attention.

"Here is James's bag, spare change of clothes, diapers and everything else you might need in there"

"Thanks, Freddystein, who knew babies could make such a mess? I mean, we were only out for an hour and he went through at least two outfits" Jack exclaimed.

"Yes, I'm more than aware," said Freddystein with a soft voice as he smiled with both his mouths down at James who cooed back. "He's thrown upon me plenty of times. My cubs did it a lot when they drank their oil too fast, at least milk comes out of the fur a lot easier"

Connie laughed as she came into the room wearing her old bathrobe and holding her coffee in one hand as she walked over to Jack and kissed his cheek.

"You boys have fun ok? Stay safe and warm and take as much time as you like, just text now and again, just to keep Big Daddy off your back"

"Well do, enjoy your morning love, I know you and Freddystein here want to catch up on your dramas!" Jack laughed as Connie gave him a small slap on the shoulder for the cheek and then kissed him again before following Freddystein to the living room. Jack whistled happily as he pushed James out of the front door and pulled his keys out to lock it when he remembered he hadn't picked up the bag.

"Oh damn it. Forget my head if it wasn't screwed on" he muttered to himself as he quickly ran in to get it, leaving James all alone in his baggy over the salt line. The Lady rose from the bushes and smiled behind her mask. What a treat! She stepped forward and hissed loudly as she quickly backed away as if she had trod on something painful. She looked around and then noticed the iron horseshoe hanging from the door as well as the faint glowing line of salt beneath it. She tutted under her breath but it was only a little matter. She reached out her hand, as her shadow lengthened, creepy up the path like a snake until it coiled around the baggy and started to pull it towards her.

To Be Continued….

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