Title: Johnny Survivor
Rating: PG, for petty revenge and so forth
Summary: When April Fool's Day comes to Easter Island, there's only one thing to do. Run away. Really, really quickly.
Disclaimer: I own…um…the twisted idea, maybe? Not much else, if that.
Author's Notes: As the summary says, part of this was supposed to be up for April Fool's Day. Then…I got involved in another minor, though angelic, prank, found myself impossibly behind on a ten page essay and lost any chance of getting a tidbit up anytime soon. That's my bad excuse, so what's yours? Thanks to the Fearless Fiend, Dangerbabe and the Symbolic Sacrifice.
Post Script: This chapter comes in two versions: the clean version as coming right up and the not so nice version you'll have to review to receive. We're not talking NC-17, don't worry about that. I'd classify it as borderline R, PG-13 violence, like Secret Window. In other words, rough, but nothing you don't see on the news these days. I just didn't feel up to changing the rating or receiving too many flames about my horrible treatment of the Survivors, savvy? If you'd like to read, send word via review with your email addy or PM if you know where to find me. Otherwise, enjoy the edited version.
Revenge Is Like Good Gazpacho
Varua- Tribal Council
It was time to partake in every Survivor's favorite aspect of the game: Tribal Council. A half-hour dedicated to removing a particularly weak or trying person from the island. Of course, it was becoming more and more of a blessing to be voted off. A silent show of good will, "You've had enough, we respect you, and gosh darn it, you are a lucky smeep." Nobody said that last bit out loud, though.
The fires were burning bright, but the breeze blowing through the clearing effectively cancelled out any chance of warmth. Some Survivors were acting nonchalant, while others just looked sick. When everyone was seated, the host entered, looking solemn as always.
"We'll bring out the jury now." The host paused as Donnie took a seat on the extra, bare bench that had been set aside. He looked healthy and much better off than the scraggly Survivors did. "The jury's role is simple. You don't talk to them, they won't talk to you, but they will be the ones deciding who the ultimate Survivor is. Their decision is based off their impressions of you while they were a part of your tribe, what they hear in this and future councils, and your last statement when it gets down to the Final Two. But we're not quite there yet," the host grinned.
"So. Welcome back, folks, how have we been faring since last time? Any mishaps?" he asked politely.
"You wish. Good publicity and all that rot," Spencer rolled his eyes. The host snorted.
"It only seems like I wish, but I really don't. If anything happened to you people, can you imagine the trouble I'd be in?"
"A host of pistols, flyswatters, water guns, cutlasses and any other manner of whips, maces and medieval torture devices no doubt," Sands smiled. He kind of liked that image himself. Maybe even join in with a couple of pistols, assuming he wasn't the incapacitated Survivor.
"I'm glad you're confident in my abilities," the host said wryly.
"Always," Sands nodded.
"I heard you people like to sing. There any particular reason or does it just pass time?"
"Passes time," Mort said quickly.
"It's invigorating!" Bon-bon grinned. "There is no evil that singing cannot cure."
"Except maybe a headache," Spencer remarked sourly.
"It was fun," Sam laughed.
"Do it often?" the host asked.
"No," Sam blushed.
"How did the videos work for you, Sam?"
"It made my day. It just… it made me happy," Sam smiled.
"Worth it. It reminds you why you're on a stupid island with a bunch of smelly men who can't sing."
"Hey!" they recoiled.
"It's true," Bon-bon smirked.
"Easy, easy, let's be civil," the host laughed. "Think you can go the last bunch of days, Duke?"
"It's not over yet?" Duke looked indignant.
"Oh you evil people!" Duke was getting so adept at covering his swears, they barely heard the stop between "evil" and "people."
"Sorry to disappoint you Duke, however, it is the moment of truth. Sands, will you be relinquishing your immunity necklace?"
"Not a chance. It looks fetching on me."
"Not the word I'd choose, but understood," the host sniggered. "Whoever gets voted out tonight will be out of the tribe, but he'll be back in the following councils as a part of the jury. Sands, do the honors."
Sands said nothing, merely got up and took the long walk to the booth of doom.Sands
"Carp. I don't think I've ever gone into one of these things without a vote in mind. Parts of me say Sam, some Mort, some Spencer. I…I don't know. Don't consider this an informed decision. You're the first name that popped into my head. Sorry."Spencer
"You lucked out this time, Sheldon. Big time."
"You don't deserve this. Get out while you still can. Before the penguins steal your sanity too."Duke
"The bats said you should go because you aren't chock full of true grit. I think it's just because you're too nice. Either way, it's not a personal grudge. You'd know if it was."Varua- Tribal Council
Jack was the last man to stagger back from the voting table. He slid in beside Axel who looked depressed. The host nodded quietly.
"I'll go tally the votes."
Donnie smiled slightly at the ceremony. It would never change, no matter who was left. The host meandered back, carrying the pot.
"Once the votes are read, the decision is final. The person voted out will be asked to read Tribal Council immediately. The first vote. Axel."
"Second vote. Mort."
Sam remained carefully expressionless. It was three votes later, when the count had Sam at four, that he began to look crestfallen. The host turned the next vote over. It too, had Sam's name.
"Five votes are majority, there is no reason to read the rest of the votes. Sam, bring me your torch."
Sam still managed to look dignified as he brought the torch to the host. He'd done his best, and nobody could tell him otherwise.
"Sam, the tribe has spoken."
The host snuffed his flame, and Sam turned away.Sam
"I would have liked to go all the way for Rollie, but I did well. I made it into the jury. I can live with that. Whoever wins will have been a better player than I was and I congratulate him…or her…for it."Sands
"I hope I'm not the only one having trouble voting. Makes me feel impotent somehow. I'm not ruling out Jeffrey and Babbette, but I'm really starting to hate the buggers. If they even exist."Spencer
"Sands better not get immunity next time or I think I'm going to go insane. I'm a lost man if I can't vote for Sheldon.Varua- Night
The tribe was getting tired of the game. Sam had gotten voted out-it had been mostly a mercy vote-and Varua had lost one of their most stable players. But it would be positively cruel to condemn Sam to another three days of madness, so they let him go and hoped for the best.
They returned to camp tired and irritable, and unanimously decided to turn in early. They needed a break; tomorrow looked as though it'd be a pleasant day for some R and R. Sands was the last Survivor to creep into the shelter. Sam's barb about his instability still rankled and Sands was having a hard time shaking it. His vote had reflected his scattered mind of late, but in the end, Sam was gone and it didn't matter anymore. Sands never liked to dwell on the past too much; it made him splenetic and crazed. He tore his gaze from the hypnotic fire and trudged back up to the shelter.
On any given night, the Survivors would whisper quietly before going to sleep, but the low voices were conspicuously absent that evening. Sands chalked it up to depression and slowly made his way over to his corner. He had almost drifted off when he heard a sinister hiss. Drooping eyelids snapped open, even as tired eyes began scanning the ground around him. The next hiss came from his left, from the direction of the peaceful Survivors. Sands slowly drew himself up to a sitting position, trying to strain his eyes against the darkness.
Snakes…why'd it have to be snakes… he thought. He proceeded forward slowly, hoping to alert someone to the danger, when he felt something drop onto his shoulders and wrap around his neck. Something scaly. He cried out in fear, his fingers clawing at his throat. He heard a very familiar voice.
"HaHA! I got you, I got you, I got you! Take THAT, you stupid human!"
A heavy-duty flashlight shined in Sands' eyes and bathed him in light. Sands could just make out a shadow doubled up in laughter. He peeled the fake rubber snake away from his neck and let it fall to the floor of the shelter.
"You should have seen the look on your face! Oh it was priceless!"
Sands took a minute to compose himself. He refused to let anyone see him losing control. It was unfortunate that he was so close to the edge. Nevertheless, he managed to breathe deep and shove his immediate troubles aside. Now, he had to humiliate the hell out of a certain alien.
"I bet you think you're a big man now, don't you, Spencer? Stealing things out of people's pockets that aren't yours, tricking unstable people into thinking they're about to be mauled by snakes. Well, you just keep on being proud of yourself, Mr. Armacost, because if you're still resorting to lame tricks, you're no better than a smeeping toad. And in Mexico, toads by the side of the highway get squished," Sands replied, his voice dangerously soft. Spencer even stopped laughing to stare at the eerily calm agent. There was a quick succession of Suvivors rolling over to turn away from the possible battle with their eyes squeezed shut.
"Don't think the rest of you can get away with it either. You let him do this, you're as bad as him." Sands addressed the sleeping assembly, "And Sam isn't here to talk sense into me."
"Jeffrey? Sands? We didn't let him, he just went and did it," Mort murmured.
"You didn't stop him, did you?"
"I was asleep."
"And the rest of you?"
"Sleepin'." Jack hadn't rolled back over.
"Asleep," Axel agreed. It didn't take long for everyone, save Spencer, to claim tiredness. Sands could have given Mort the benefit of the doubt, but not everyone. As it were, it was far too late for any sort of detective work. He wasn't a fan of arguing points, anyway. He spared a glance for Spencer who still hadn't moved and gripped him roughly by the shoulder.
"Get out of my personal bubble and go to bed. I'll deal with you tomorrow," Sands sighed. He shoved Spencer forward and sunk to the ground. Despite his tough exterior, Sands was tired and wanted to sleep. It also just so happened to be the time that all his best ideas and inspirations came to him. While he didn't like to argue, he did enjoy getting revenge. He curled up in his corner and went out like a light.Varua- Morning
Sands started awake. He had it. The perfect idea. He made breakfast a lot. And the sandwiches had wreaked havoc on digestive systems everywhere as Sands had predicted they would. Indigestion was fool proof. This had promise, though, even if it wasn't original. It was better than nothing, that was a given.
Sands sat quietly, putting the final touches on his quick plan. It was by no means perfect, but it would get his point across for sure. And he was still the only one awake, which allowed for prep time. Perfect.Varua- Midmorning
Axel was the second to wake up. The dreary routine of getting up and eating breakfast had been ingrained into his head and now he was acting upon it. At least, he was until he saw the bizarre, red hue of the rice in the pan. He glanced at Sands, who was calmly ingesting the mutant food.
"Red tide?" Axel asked, pointing at the pan.
"Sweet and sour sauce," Sands mumbled around a mouthful.
"Old Chinese recipe. You eat now," Sands waved at the rice. Axel shook his head. Sweet and sour sauce was pink, wasn't it? The rice was definitely red.
"Since when is sweet and sour sauce red?"
"I had to improvise. Now are you going to eat it or are you not? Because if you're not, I'll take your share. I haven't eaten in a day," Sands grunted. Axel snorted and proceeded to spoon himself a helping.
"You're not seriously going to eat that, are you? It's radioactive." Duke had stumbled out of the shelter and gotten a glance at the rice. Axel shrugged.
"Food," he elucidated. Duke sighed and tucked in as well. Before Axel could take a bit however, Bon-bon flounced up with similar questions while Spencer, eyes at half mast, simply grabbed his portion.
"I've seen worse, mate," Jack yawned at Bon-bon's shoulder. " 'S not purple or black, 'n therefore, 's prolly safe."
"And it's not as if you're not getting at least a little tired of the same paste day after day, are you?" Sands quirked an eyebrow. Bon-bon huffed.
"Sands…? Oh smeep! Sands!" Duke swore. He was on his feet performing the most extraordinary stunts. His jaw was hanging open as a hand flapped to usher fresh air in. He looked to be in physical discomfort.
"Sands!" Axel moaned. His eyes were watering. Spencer glances at his friend with concern in his still-crossed eyes. Unfortunately, it wasn't before he too had swallowed a great mouthful of the rice himself.
"Fish Boy?" Oh…oh…ohohohohoh!" Spencer howled. "It burns!"
"You don't like my cooking?" Sands frowned mildly around another bite of food. Bon-bon glared at the agent.
"And what do you think you're doing?" she hissed.
"Trying a bit of variety," he shrugged.
"Sweet and sour sauce? I definitely meant to say habañero seasoning. The annatto seeds add color. Overall, not bad. Could have used a splash of tequila, though." He shrugged, "Or maybe not. I wouldn't want one of you to have to go and balance me out or anything."
"Can't imagine why we would want to," she growled.
"Water!" Duke screamed. Sands winced.
"Lo siento, but I seem to have used the last of the clean water on breakfast."
"Well, I liked it, even if you ungrateful sots didn't." Sands patted his stomach and grabbed another bowl. It was partially out of spite, but also so they could see that he was eating the same thing they were. The flavor had been a mite powerful for Sands' weakened palate, but he was also made of sterner stuff than the other Survivors to begin with. They'd be getting indigestion at best; he might get gas. If Mexican cuisine had but one fault, that was it.
"Back pocket. Bottled water," someone wheezed. Bon-bon retreated to the shelter as the rest of the party glared weakly at Sands.
"You look as though someone poisoned you," he observed.
"If you're going to complain about my breakfast, you'd better start waking up earlier and make it yourself. Or maybe you could just stop whining about the fact that it isn't made when you wake up. Either way, I'll be a happy camper."
"If this is about last night," Spencer gasped.
"Good observation," Sands remarked dryly.
"I pranked you! What's the harm in that?" Spencer snarled. Sands checked his digital watch and found himself scowling.
"Well, luckily for you, you were fully within your rights, if a bit early. It's April Fool's Day. But," Sands smirked, "that means I was completely right in coming up with this retaliation too."
"Only the worst day of the year. Total strangers can have it out for you. You just have to hope you've got better reflexes than they do. Otherwise, you're going to wind up reaching for that innocent jar of peanut brittle and wet yourself not two seconds later." Sands had to suppress a shudder. God, he hated snakes.
"Water!" Axel sighed happily and downed half a bottle of Aquafina in one pull. Mort looked unhappy, removing bottle after bottle out of his pockets and handing them off to Bon-bon. His sleep-tousled hair indicated that he had been asleep at the time of the water crisis.
"You people are such pansies," Sands rolled his eyes at the display. "Have any of you had Mexican before?"
"You said it was Chinese," Axel accused.
"Sweet and sauce is. This is an improvised puerco pibil marinade. Totally Mexican and not half bad. If anything, you should all thank me for making you multicultural."
"Thanks, Juan, for ruining my day," Spencer sneered. He'd cracked open his second bottle of water.
"That's Don Juan to you, fuzz butt," Sands smirked. Spencer glared, but the overall effect was marred when he burped. Sands hid his grin by standing up for stretch and ambling to the beach. The score was tied at one.Varua- Afternoon
Spencer was behaving himself. Somewhat. The point was that while he was up to no good, he was not actually doing evil at that very moment. It was something of an improvement.
"Fish Boy, you busy?" he whispered. Axel looked over, a perplexed frown crossing his features.
"I've got a plan to get Sheldon back. With me?"
"Are you with me?"
"Spencer, are you sure you need to declare war on Sands? If you haven't noticed, we're the only people still on this island representing Inaga. Do you want to get yourself kicked off for being annoying? You started it last night. All of what might happen today can and probably will be traced back to you," Axel pointed out. "Please think about this."
"You're killing my fun," Spencer grumbled.
"I would have thought you'd prefer to stay on the island is all," Axel sighed. "No skin off my nose if you don't."
If one thing could be said about Axel, it was that he knew how to make a man feel guilty. Really guilty. The more Spencer sulked, the more Axel's words made sense. And how Spencer disliked sense.
"Fish Boy, you bug me."
Axel laughed. "I know."Varua- Afternoon
Mort had found that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't shake the knowledge that is was April Fool's Day. It had never meant anything to him before Psnoo came along. It still didn't. It meant absolutely nothing to Morton Rainey. Nope, not a bit.
He sighed. His angel was probably off gallivanting around, terrorizing innocent angels, sidekicks and new members while he was stuck in this cruddy place. But not all was lost. It was April Fool's Day. Maybe he could do something in her honor. She'd like that. And Duke didn't seem to be doing a whole lot either; a glazed look in his eye said his mind had been wandering. Maybe he'd help. Mort rolled over to get a better look at the journalist.
"I didn't do it!" he started.
"Nothing, nothing, I want nothing!"
Mort shook his head. "Duke…"
"What?" Duke looked hurt.
"I need your help."
"I'm out of ether!"
"I don't want ether!"
"Oh. Well then. Uh…what do you want?"
"A partner in crime. It's April Fool's Day."
Duke groaned. "How many times have you been on this island? Why can't I ever see the Fiend?"
"Duke?" Mort's eyes narrowed in question.
"Psnoo, you're Psnoo! I bet the giant lizards switched you with Mort while I wasn't watching," he pouted.
"Duke, I'm Mort. I just want to-"
"Mort wouldn't want to prank people. He'd want an afternoon nap!"
"So would Psnoo, if you're going to play that game, but I'm really me. Mort. It'd be nice if we finished up before dinner so I could get a nap in, but I'm not going to hold my breath," he rolled his eyes.
"So I've said."
"The bats don't trust you."
"Don't tell me you've formed some unholy alliance with the bats in your head," Mort winced.
"Don't call them unholy!" Duke snarled. Mort inched away slowly, careful not to present his back to the rabid Duke. The writer wasn't sure he'd survive the encounter if he did. When he was finally alone, Mort sat down to ponder his predicament. He was going to do something rather… devious. He didn't know what or how, only that he would. He could go big, or go conventional. Since Mort had nothing to lose, he figured he'd go as big as he possibly could. And with a magic pocket, who knew?Varua- Midafternoon
Bon-bon had been watching the water antics of several Johnnys keeping cool in the tropical heat. It had been amusing watching Jack…pardon, Captain Jack engage in a water fight with Sands and Axel. Bon-bon could hear Spencer's growls of distaste become louder over the past ten minutes and was about ready to deck him.
"Don't you have somewhere else to be?" she sighed.
"The island's only so big," he ground out.
"Then stop moping."
"I am not moping!"
Bon-bon huffed. "And I'm the Baroness of Madagascar! Get up," she ordered. She stood up gracefully and turned to the sulking Spencer with her hands on her hips. "Up!"
"And what are you going to do if I don't?" Spencer frowned. Bon-bon held up a finger, as though saying 'Just you wait.' She cleared the two steps between herself and the alien. She then hauled him upright with undue strength for one of such dainty build and mild disposition. She gripped him by the collar and walked him into the ocean, heedless of clothes or protests.
"Stop this instant, you crazy woman!" Spencer screeched.
"Get in there and stop your whining. I refuse to listen to it anymore," Bon-bon snarled. Spencer shivered, not liking where this was going. Mort, however, had seen his opportune moment. Duke was lost in his own creepy little world, but the exit of Bon-bon and Spencer meant he had the beach to himself. It was time to get to work.Varua- Late afternoon
Captain Jack allowed the tide to bring him back to shore. The water fight had taken a lot out of him and it would be nice just to lie on the beach and relax. Get some sleep, as it were. The rest of the water combatants had gotten a similar idea of calling truce and were slowly making their way back to the golden strip of sand.
There was no welcome wagon for the soggy conquistadores. Duke was discussing pressing matters with a tree while Mort was passed out on his side near the fire. Jack rolled his eyes, thinking that there couldn't possibly be enough gold in the world to convince him to take them on as part of his dastardly crew. But what he wanted then wasn't shiny trinkets to appease his love of gold; it was a warm, dry jacket and a bottle of rum. Water skirmishes were a cold business, and since Mort was asleep, he shouldn't mind helping a poor pirate out with the latter problem.
Jack scooped up his long jacket and swung it over his shoulders. He didn't like the idea of it getting wet, but he disliked the idea of pneumonia even more. Even as he slid his arms through the sleeves he spotted Axel and Sands tugging on dry T-shirts to fight the effect of the ocean breeze. Spencer and Bon-bon had to go back to the shelter to retrieve fresh clothes if they wanted immediate warmth.
"Eww," someone moaned. Jack glanced upward and saw Axel peeling his shirt back off again. His hair, face and chest were covered in a bright yellow color. Sands wasn't bothered by Axel's distress. His own hair was mussed up with a pink paste that seemed to cover his face as well. If Jack was any judge, it looked to be the same kind of stuff that was plaguing Axel. Jack checked his jacket hurriedly only to find blue gunk covering the sleeves of his white shirt. His only white shirt.
"A'right ye scabrous dogs, which one o' ye's responsible fer this!" Jack yelled, pulling his arms back out of his sleeves. Jack would find out if it was the last thing he did. And from the startled yelps from the shelter, Jack could deduce that it wasn't Bon-bon or Spencer.
"Jack, it's silly string. Who do you think is responsible?" Sands sighed. He remembered April Fool's Day 2004 well; he had a couple of wild guesses. Jack wasn't following his train of thought.
"Think about it. It'll come to you." Sands stripped the ruined shirt off tossed it aside before checking his khaki shorts. He would not be covered in silly string from head to butt if he had any say in it. Luckily, his shorts were clean.
Jack did think about it, but found he'd much rather take care of his shirt first. Once exposed to sunlight, the silly string seemed to want to dry. Jack was smeeped if he wanted his shirt and jacket to dry blue and crusty.
"I'll do the laundry," Axel whispered. If there were worse things than being covered in yellow, he couldn't think of them at the moment. It would be better to get out with some dignity where possible. He trudged up to the shelter to get Bon-bon's and Spencer's effects, managing by the skin of his teeth not to burst out laughing. Suffice it to say that what Axel was to yellow, Bon-bon was to green and Spencer to purple.
Axel had barely started in on the clothes at the freshwater stream when Spencer, Sands and Bon-bon had trickled up to rid themselves of goop. Spencer looked ready to start a physical fight when Sands arrived, but dropped the macho act when he saw Sands peculiar hairstyle and pink hue.
"Eat it up, fuzzball," Sands rolled his eyes, a tired smile on his face.
"Oh, but I am. Charming. I'm impressed," Spencer grinned.
"I'm betting that I clean up prettier than you," Sands remarked casually, sinking to the bottom of the shallow stream. The longer the silly string stayed wet, the better.
"Are you calling me fat?" Sands ducked below the surface to submerge his hair and came back up with a spray of water. Spencer looked mischievous
Sands wasted no time; he grabbed Spencer around the neck and dragged him into the water for a noogie. Bon-bon sighed as a wavelet came up to her chest. Boys were so incredibly stupid.
Somewhere during the course of the laundry, the joining of Axel, and the splash-fest, the four Survivors managed to get clean. It was like an Axe Shower Gel commercial, without the raunchy behavior. The silly stringed apparel was set on tree branches and would dry overnight, but that meant another change of clothes was still in order. Jack, who hadn't needed a bath, had already beaten them to it.
"And I thought you were pink, Sheldon," Spencer cocked his head. If he wasn't greatly mistaken, the pirate captain was sporting a new, pale pink, nay, chartreuse shirt.
"One crack about me shirt 'n I send ye t'Davy Jones' locker," Jack growled. " 's not me fault that Gibbs washed it with his red socks." Axel nodded knowingly, having just combated the problem of lights and darks himself.
"You ask Mr. Sleepy Head why we came back to ruined clothes yet, Captain?" Bon-bon asked sarcastically.
" 'E's already awake if ye'd like t'ask him, lass," Jack replied.
"Then I will. Thank you, Captain," Bon-bon smiled tightly. She made her way over to the fire where Mort was currently trying to blink the sleep out of his eyes. To all appearances, he looked as though he'd just woken up. Sands grinned; much as he liked Mort, he hated being pink just a bit more. Mort deserved this chewing out big time.
"Bon-bon?" Mort scooted over to allow room for the transvestite. She opted to remain standing.
"You weren't just napping this past hour, were you? Catching up on some much needed sleep and what not?" she asked sweetly.
"Uh, yes. Yes I have been." Mort had the grace to look confused. "Why?"
"You didn't catch the difficulty we had, did you? Because it was very confusing. You don't know how silly string wound up on the island, do you? Because I don't. Do you think someone brought it with them, Mort?"
"If you're accusing me of taking silly string out of my pocket, I'd rather like to know what is so very wrong with it. Because the string could very well have come from my pocket, but I'm not always in control of – hey!" Mort sputtered. Sands shrugged, pocketing the bottle of rum he'd taken and twisting open the tequila.
"I like my entertainment with a shot of tequila. Jack just wanted me to snag him a drink while I was at it," he offered by way of explanation. Mort glared.
"You're stalling, Mortybear." Bon-bon injected all of her old charm into that one "Mortybear." It was enough to make Mort shiver.
"Are you trying to tempt Shooter?"
"Are you trying to avoid my question?" she asked innocently.
"What was it?"
"Why was there silly string on the island, Mortybear?"
"Y'know, that's awful distracting-"
"It came from my pocket. That's a given. I don't know why you're all so worked up over it."
"Maybe because we were covered in it," Spencer called from his vantage point. Bon-bon raised and eyebrow to see how Mort would answer that.
"Were you? All of you?"
"All of us. Well, everybody except you and Duke the vegetable over there. You'd understand why we figure it has to be you," Bon-bon smirked.
"Well done, Sherlock. You caught me," Mort smiled lazily. "I have to admit, you all looked very pretty. Very colorful."
"Why smeeping pink? Answer that," Sands demanded.
"Because you remind me of Steve Bescemi in black and it seemed appropriate?"
"I saw the movie. Do I look like a professional to you?"
"Okay, how's about your inner Babbette was dying to come out and I just did it as a favor," Mort smirked.
"Be that as it may, it's my inner Jeffrey that wants to tear you limb from limb right now."
"Tell him to lighten up."
"You freely admit that you did it? That's too easy," Bon-bon mused.
"Why shouldn't I brag? It's what Psnoo would have done. She'd proud of being a troublemaker."
"You've got more tricks."
"No, honest! I just wanted to do something in honor of today. Nothing as elaborate as say…masquerading as an EA and terrorizing Angel Headquarters. If such a thing could be done," he scoffed.
"I believe him," Axel murmured.
"You believe in the good of everyone," Spencer rolled his eyes.
"And that's why I still talk to you," Axel snorted.
"Aren't we getting all mushy," Sands rolled his eyes. Spencer's look was enough to send him into fits of laughter, thus endangering his tequila.
"We've all gotten mushy," Mort observed. "I think it's the air."
"You say th'air, I say th'water," Jack glanced around suspiciously.
"No. It's definitely the food," Axel nodded seriously. Sands suddenly cocked his head. He glanced from side to side anxiously, as though trying to spot an invisible enemy. He looked spooked.
"Sands?" Mort asked. Sands waved Mort off and began sniffing the air. The scent was very familiar.
"Ether," he whispered.
"Say what?" Spencer frowned.
"Someone planted ether around here," Sands snapped. "And I bet-"
Sands never got to finish. Mort burst out laughing which prompted Bon-bon into a giggle fit as well. Jack took a swig of rum.
"If there's ether around, how could we know, mate?"
"You're awful philosophical, Captain Jack. Care to take a walk with me?" Sands grinned cheesily. Oh boy, if it wasn't ether, Sands didn't know what to believe in anymore. He thought his little demonstration, if a bit embarrassing on his part, would prove his point nicely. After all, he was the only one besides Duke who could recognize the stuff by smell.
"I won't be walking the plank, will I?" Jack asked.
"Hey, I can understand you!" Sands laughed. "No, no plank, but I bet you can walk a straight line."
"C'mon, get up. Lend me a shoulder, Captain." Sands wobbled to his feet, even as he gestured for Jack to do the same. Jack was weary of the audience he'd developed-all the campfire dwellers had smirks and snickers for the developing show-but he complied with Sands' request. He had a sure stance, unlike Sands who seemed to have developed two left feet.
"You don't look so good, Sands," Jack quirked an eyebrow. "Are you sick?"
"I'm not unconscious, so I'd have to say I was doing okay. Let's get to that plam…pam…plmmmm…" Sands took a second to crack his jaw. "Paaaaaalm tree, shall we? Whoa, easy… easy…" Sands stumbled. He was slowing down, whirring to a disjointed stop. Jack seemed more comfortable than ever with the confidence of a sobered step on his side. They made an interesting pair, ambling to the nearest palm in the darkening light. They earned their fair share of giggles from the people gathered by the fire. At least until Mort squeaked and dove behind Bon-bon.
"It's just a bat," Bon-bon scoffed. Mort whimpered.
"But there haven't been bats on this island. It's something else!"
"How the mighty hast fallen," Spencer chortled.
"It's a bat. Look, it got a…thing. A bug," Bon-bon waved vaguely. Mort's eyes followed the lone bat with distrust. Bats did not belong around here.
"Bat?" Sands asked. He all but fell to the ground, his motor skills shot. It was a relief to sit. Or lie down, judging by the sudden sideways position of the world.
"Bat!" Mort pointed. And sure enough, it was a bat, swooping against the twilight. None of the Survivors had encountered a bat once since they'd landed on the island. Except Duke. But he seemed to see them a lot on any occasion so he didn't really count.
"Bats," a voice murmured. The S was emphasized and there was a definite smile implied in the word. No sooner had it been said, than the entire sky filled with bats. They were swooping and screeching and diving about the fire. And voices were screaming, "Holy smeep, get 'em off!"
Poor fools under the influence of ether were flopping to the ground in fear and trying to crawl away. The bats tugged at their clothes and nipped at exposed skin. Whatever rational sense the Survivors had hung on to at the mention of ether fled in the face of the bat attack. And the mystery voice crowed with laughter. Before any serious pants wetting could begin, however, the onslaught came to a sudden stop. The bats disappeared, leaving a violet-red sky in their wake. Axel sobbed.
"April Fools," the voice whispered.
"It's not easy taking mind altering substances, is it?" Duke smirked, seating himself on a log. Survivors crawled back towards the light, anger in their eyes.
"What were those?" Mort growled.
"What were what?" Duke asked casually.
"Well…bats. What'd you think they were?"
"But they were bats."
"Where are they now?"
"I called them off. I thought you all had had enough."
"More than enough," Sands muttered.
"Be grateful you didn't see the giant lizards or the manta rays. They're much more vicious than the bats. I've got an understanding with the bats, you see."
"Swell," Spencer groaned. "Does that mean we'll be seeing more of them?"
"Is tomorrow April Fool's Day?"
"I sure hope not."
"Are you planning on snooping around in my case?"
"Then perhaps not, if you're lucky. They might've bonded with you, in which case…you might have to learn to like them and I can't help you there."
Spencer buried his head in his hands as the rest of the tribesmen (and woman) felt their morale sink a bit lower. Duke got to his feet.
"To show you I meant no harm, I'll make dinner."
"No!" Bon-bon screeched.
"I'll do it," Jack interrupted.
"No tricks?" Mort asked feebly.
"No tricks, lad."Varua- Night
After an invigorating dinner of 100-percent-unfooled-around-with rice, the tribe was feeling weary, but happy. For a day of intense paranoia, nobody had come out terribly worse for wear. It was a minor miracle. They hadn't gotten much rest, but not everything could be expected to be and make up for it. Sands wasn't long asleep when he heard another hiss. He barely hid his spasm under the guise of the sudden waking of the heavily sleeping.
"Uh," he grunted.
"About today…did that really happen?" Spencer asked.
"Huh?" Sands rolled over. Spencer was looking solemn. He couldn't for the life of him put the events of the day into place.
"Did you really get me to play in the water?"
"I didn't do anything. I gave you a noogie, and you retaliated. That's that," Sands yawned.
"I hate water."
"Well, it's a wonder you haven't dehydrated yet, isn't it?"
"I'm serious. Was it ether?"
"Was it ether that caused that senseless frolicking?"
"Senseless frolicking…?" Sands paused, knowing full well it couldn't have been ether. There had been too many things that pointed away from it: the rate ether dissipates, the time Duke had laced the fire with it, how Mort hadn't had symptoms before, etc. But Sands wasn't entirely sure he was ready to admit that he'd just fooled around with Spencer. It didn't seem kosher on any level and it clashed with his dwindling bad boy image. It was better at this point to tell a white lie than to compromise himself. "Yeah. Probably ether," Sands nodded. "Don't get used to it."
"Okay. Thanks, Sheldon."
"No problem, Mr. Armacost. Permission to sleep?"
"Yeah, sure. Night."
Sands rolled over, eager to end the conversation. It was not something he wanted to be dealing with that time of the night. Moments later, Spencer curled into a ball and his breathing evened out. Sands sighed. That had been close.Varua- Morning
Axel was the first Survivor awake for a change. AFD may have been over, but Axel had taken Sands' threat seriously and volunteered for breakfast detail.
"Challenge day," Mort murmured when he finally arrived at the fire. "What do you think the reward will be today?"
"A car or a visit from family. It's getting late enough in the game for something like that," Axel shrugged. It would certainly be a nice reward, the family visit thing. He'd never actually met his new Angel (outside of the time-space continuum. Funny thing that.) He'd more than had his fill of cars though.
"Oh. Good," Mort nodded.
"Think the clue's in?" Spencer asked.
"The bats are getting it now," Duke mumbled into his food. Survivors recoiled as Duke glanced upwards, a perplexed expression on his face. "What?"
"Bats!" Bon-bon yelled.
"Don't worry, they're not back yet. One bat can't lift the clue by himself. I sent the whole group to get it."
"They won't attack?"
"Of course not. They've never bothered you before and wouldn't have if it hadn't been for me." He grinned snidely. Nobody looked reassured, but they let it go. It was time to pump themselves up for the challenge and get in the mind set they needed. A chant wouldn't have gone amiss.
"Aha! They got it," Duke announced. "And it looks physical."
A man is in love with his damsel in distress
You Survivors must confess
Enough to brave the sea?
The reward winner will have to be.
"Charming," Axel murmured.
"Well, I don't know about you chickadees, but I'm full to bursting with boundless energy and cannot wait for this silly challenge to get underway. I want to go now or I'm just going to freak right out," Sands stretched. He was feeling pent up, so it wouldn't hurt to show a little bravado while he was able.
"Why not?" Bon-bon shrugged. There was no longer any point in prolonging the inevitable.
The clearing didn't look particularly special, but the Survivors could have been taking it for granted. There was the host, same as ever. The solidarity was almost reassuring.
"Morning, Survivors. Fairing well?"
"Well enough," Mort replied.
"No freak accidents of personalities I hope."
"Not recently," Bon-bon shook her head. The geniality was pleasant.
"Oh good. I bet you're all a bit tired of this game, right? Want to go home, get some good food, see your folks, right?" The host grinned snidely.
"I know he's going somewhere with this," Spencer rolled his eyes.
"What if I were to tell you that the winner of this challenge not only gets to see their angel, but that angel gets to stay for awhile?"
That was kind of nice, they had to admit. Angels were good things. They brought necessities and fun.
"In truth, you'll all get to see your Angels. You're going to rescue them."
"We do it all th'time, mate," Jack grinned.
"That's awfully cocky, Captain Jack. What about the rest of you?"
"Sure," Sands shrugged. He had a mean poker face when it came to competitions. Sweet prize or no, he had to win it first.
"Perhaps seeing them now might get some emotions going," he smiled slyly. "Angels?"
A figure stumbled out of the brush yanking another form behind it. The latter was grumbling about a lack of naps; the former was trying to get her to lighten up. More Angels filed out. Some looked confident and at ease, having been there before, but some still looked mildly worried. Just about all the Survivors were represented: Axel's Rolling Rooster, Duke's Fearless Fiend, Captain Jack's Caribbean Crusader, Mort's Secret Pseudonym, Sands' CIA Agente Arenas, and Spencer's Extraterrestrial Terror. Bon-bon, however, had nobody. She looked about for Dangerbabe, hoping that perhaps she'd only lost the path or something unfortunate like that, but all she found was a new girl who looked rather lost. And then she saw Bon-bon and a smile lit up her face.
"Bon-bon, I'm here to play your Angel. I'm Sugarbutt," she grinned.
"Sugarbutt?" Bon-bon frowned, glancing at Sands before returning her gaze to the girl. "You must be mistaken. I have not Angel yet."
"Not yet, but I've got a note from DB, if you'd like to read it." She thrust forward a crumpled piece of paper for Bon-bon to read.
Sorry I couldn't come myself; it's gotten a bit busy in ye old bio thread. Roux's back--he sure does go through the angels! Anyway, I'm sending Sugarbutt in my place. She's one of my grandkicks and--don't tell anyone I told you this--she's training as an angel for "Before Night Falls"! For you! So treat her good and soon you and Victor just might be packing your bags!
Okay. Do good. Win. Have fun. Kick the other guys' butts.
Your angel 'til you get one,
Bon-bon felt her eyes start to tear. She didn't have an Angel yet, but…soon enough she would. She bit her lip and nodded at Sugarbutt. "I hope you know what you're doing."
"Me too," SB rolled her eyes.
"Now that we're all nice and happy, it's time to explain the deal," the host announced. "Your Angels will be out at sea. You will be on shore. But since we can't make this too easy, they're going to be chained up. Fun, right? You'll have the keys, that won't be bad, but it won't be easy for a number of reasons. five locks, ten keys, and all the chains are underwater. Their heads will be submerged, but they'll be hooked to rocks down below and in case things run amok, we have divers on hand. Understand?"
"Carp," CC muttered. "I knew there was a catch.
"This sounds like an Angel Adventure," Fiend murmured.
"But if I'm out there endangering my life, who's writing this part of the story?" Arenas asked suddenly.
"You," Sands quirked an eyebrow. Crickets chirped and Arenas passed out trying to grasp the implications of being in two places at once. By the time she came around, she was already at sea and in chains beside the six other Angels. The coastline looked small and the people on it had the faceless anonymity of the faraway. There was nothing to do now but float and wait.
"Survivors ready? Go!"
Sand was kicked up as sever determined Survivors went to retrieve their Angels. Sands, by virtue of the CIA, was able to exploit his good health to get to the front. When it came to the water, Jack had an edge, being a pirate and all. Nobody suspected the man who pulled easily ahead of the pirate. Duke, an avid swimmer, was steadily swimming ahead. The keys were clutched tight in his teeth as he cut powerfully through the sea. The Fiend would have swooned had she been able.
Duke made it to the Fearless Fiend with ample time to spare. He barely got out there when he took a huge breath and dove down to work on the locks.
Jack arrived second and Sands third. The water was beginning to look turgis and dark from the force of the Survivors' frantic treading. Axel swam up, as did Mort, Bon-bon, and finally Spencer, who simply wasn't built for water frolicking.
Sands' technique was to surface once for every key, and with his quick maneuvering, he soon had two locks undone. Jack and Duke were going at it the hard way, several keys per dive. Jack averaged about three or four keys for every gulp of air. Duke, however, was managing five and six at a time. It was like he was possessed by a fish (or a manta ray) and was performing better than anybody had ever though possible. The fifth key snapped open and Duke began prying the chains from the Fiend's body. Duke wound up towing her back to shore before his reserves of strength could give out. He was a quarter of the way there when Jack freed CC, but by then it was a lost cause. Duke and Fiend crashed onto the beach first, panting and laughing, followed by Jack and Sands.
"Duke wins the reward! Congratulations, Raoul," the host beamed.
Varua- Late Afternoon
FF strolled across the sand in bare feet with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. She glared up at the sun in a moment of discontent but shrugged it off and kept walking. She was in a very good mood and even the two bright suns attempting to scorch her pale skin didn't ruin it. Her Johnny had won a challenge, the bats were actually being nice for a change now that Duke had had dealings with them...all was right with the world. Well, not exactly. It seems that after spending who knows how many weeks together, nerves had become frayed and tempers short.
Hardly a minute went by when Sands or Spencer weren't heckling each other, at which point Axel would step in and try patiently to separate the two like destructive children. Bon-bon looked about ready to deck them both as Jack spaced with his rum and Mort napped. Duke glanced apologetically at the Fiend.
"Has it been like this the whole time?" FF asked incredulously. "I mean, I know I had to do a little refereeing last time, but I thought that maybe you guys were all just having a bad day. How do you live with this?" Duke gave her a pointed look and she lifted her chin in realisation. "Ahh. Copious amounts of drugs. I got it. You're just lucky Donnie's not still here, you little fiend. He'd bust you for sure." Duke just grinned mischievously and together he and FF went to brave the rest of the group.
"For the last time, I did not steal the cookies from the cookie jar. It's a game!" Sands snapped at Spencer who had a finger jabbed into his chest accusingly.
"You stole them! I know your type!"
"No, I laced them with arsenic, there's a slight difference."
"Guys, come on. Can't you just...go to opposite ends of the camp or something?" Axel pleaded.
"He goes first," they said in unison. Their eyes were filled with a similar loathing and hatred for each other.
"Boys, can't we all just get along?" FF asked in a sing-song voice. When she was met with a number of sour looks and all out glares she shrugged. "I guess not," she muttered under her breath. "Ok, what seems to be the trouble. The Doctor is in," FF said wryly. Silence answered her. "Oh come on, I don't often get to see all of you together like this. So talk to me. Rant. Rave. Get all this manly anger off your chests. I'm listening."
"They're immature, snot-nosed, brats!" Bon-bon cried. She met every stare with righteous indignation and no trace of fear.
"And Bon-Bon has the floor," FF announced in a narrative voice. "Run with it, girly. Let it all out. The Fiend is here for you." Duke sent her a wry look and FF shrugged. She clearly had no idea what she was doing, but boy it sounded good, didn't it?
"All they do is argue and bicker and I'm tired of it! I've tried being nice, I've tried ignoring them and there is nothing I can do. They're incorrigible! I'm not saying change radically, just stop trying to bait each other!"
"Now look here a second, girly," Spencer objected.
"Spence? You have a rebuttal?" She turned to Duke and spoke in sotto voce. "That means an argument against, right?" Duke nodded and she turned back to Spencer. "Very well. Go on."
Spencer blinked at the mediators. He never really expected an audience to his darkest rants. "Well, uh..."
"Tongue-tied. Brilliant," Sands smirked. "You know, they're probably filming this for Jerry Springer and you're going to look like a dip. I think I'd pay to watch that if I couldn't get a first hand account."
"Shut up, Sheldon!
"See, you're doing it now!" Bon-bon shrieked. "Stop it! Both of you!"
"SJ," FF said evenly. "I did not give you permission to speak." She cut off what looked to be an argument with a stern glower. "You're not helping matters so kindly stifle yourself." She turned back to Spencer. "Spencer? You still have the floor if you want it."
Sands rolled his eyes while Spencer continued to glare angrily.
"Nothing more to add," he snarled.
"Didn't add anything to begin with," Sands mouthed.
"Sheldon Jeffrey Sands!" FF yelled again. "Do you want me to put you in time out to cool off for awhile? I assure you, I will find a way."
"He started it," Sands shrugged. Spencer gaped, trying to come up with a perfectly cutting remark. Sands waited, a blank expression on his face.
"For Babbette's sake! What are you, nine?" FF cut in, striding over to stand in front of SJ, her arms crossed over her chest and a glower fixed on her face. "Right now you seem to be the trouble maker in this group. If I straighten you out-and believe me, I will-the rest should naturally follow." That was the idea, anyway.
He twitched, dutifully ignoring the Babbette reference. For now. "With all due respect, Miss Fiend, Ma'am, Sir, Lady, person, you weren't here yesterday," he pointed out.
"Are you going to bring that up every time now?" Spencer asked, disgusted.
"If I have to, yes!"
"Oh but you forget, dear SJ. You're being broadcast over a live studio audience. I see everything," FF pointed out smugly. "How the heck do you think I found out about Babbette?"
"Much as I hate Babbette, I hate snakes more. And he had to start this whole thing by bringing snakes into this!"
"I know you don't like snake, Jeffrey. Er," FF floundered for a minute then shrugged and turned to Spencer. "Do you admit to trying to freak Sands out by scaring him with a rubber snake? And remember, there are witnesses."
"Of course I do. It was funny," Spencer shrugged.
"And if Sands had held your head over a barrel of water and threatened to drown you; would that be funny?" FF asked carefully, not wanting to take sides in this.
"I could die in that situation. I hardly see the danger in a rubber snake," he sulked.
"You didn't answer my question, Spencer. Would that be funny? Should I ask Sands? I bet he would think it's funny. Wouldn't you Sands? Of course you would," FF said, not giving Sands a chance to answer for himself. "The method isn't the point, Spencer. It's the result."
"And what result might that be?"
"Fear. And perhaps a good dose of Loathing. Oh wait, we've already got that." Duke snickered behind her and FF couldn't help a small smile on behalf of her Johnny.
"More than our share, if you ask me," Bon-bon muttered.
FF let that slide since it wasn't really a barb intended for anyone. "Well, gentlemen? Do you have anything to say for yourselves or do I have to resort to time-outs?"
"I don't know if time-outs can cure pure evil. I've yet to see evidence that proves it does," Sands replied.
"Nice comeback. Probably read it off a fortune cookie," Spencer sneered.
FF shouted in irritation. "That's it! I've had it with you two and I haven't even been here for that long! You're both insufferable! You clearly have the same sophomoric sense of humour. I don't see why you aren't the best of friends," FF sneered. "How the heck did you two become such antagonists anyway?"
"Because he's a big meany head," Sands nodded seriously.
"Niiice," Spencer rolled his eyes.
"I feel like I'm in grade school again. Or worse, teaching it," FF muttered under her breath. "Care to elaborate on that, Sheldon?" she asked in her best teacher voice.
"Find out anything that went wrong with this tribe, you can probably trace it back to him. I'm just trying to win and not go too insane in the process. Kind of hard with turtles running around, but I'd say I wasn't doing a bad job until Spencer does something to muck it up."
"Like what?" Spencer scoffed.
"The Cuisinart. The constant references to cow blood which are seriously stale. The snake. Do you really want me to continue?"
"Spencer, do you have a response to that? What exactly endeared him to you in the first place anyway?" FF asked dryly.
"...Pardon?" Spencer cocked his head. "Endear? I'd call him anything but endearing."
"Ok since you're an alien I'll accept that your sarcasm meter isn't as finely tuned as the rest of ours are. I was being sarcastic, Spencer." She sent Sands a look warning him not to comment.
"Just the same," he looked hurt. "Though if I had to answer, I'd say it was the fact that we're supposed to do this sort of thing. Detest each other and so forth. It's natural and..."
"What he means is that I'm the David to his Goliath," Sands yawned.
"Hardly! I'm David."
"You don't even know David and Goliath."
"I don't have to! If you claim it, it must be good."
"How do you know I'm not psyching you out?"
"I might be."
"Neither of you are David nor Goliath! You're both going to be lying on the ground in pain if you don't shut up for two seconds!"
Spencer looked incredulous, even as Sands frowned. He'd seen the Fiend in an Angel Adventure and knew what she was capable of. Spencer didn't.
"If he insists on being David, That means David's the good guy. He always does that, with his stupid mind games! He did that in the last challenge!"
"I never knew you felt that way, Spencer. It makes me just want to cry for all your woes," Sands snorted. He instantly looked away, biting his lip. He didn't want to say that. The gathered Survivors glanced from FF to Spencer and Sands with all the fascination of a bloody car crash.
"Oh I warned you," FF said coolly. Even Duke took a step away from her. "Johnny's?" She asked the assembled group. "Grab them." The Johnny's stood and looked at her for a minute before she yelled "Now!" and they jumped, and did what she ordered. Once Sands and Spencer were sufficiently restrained, FF crouched on the sand and opened up her case. She pulled out what seemed like the unending length of rope and handed it to Jack. "Jack, you're a pirate. Tell me you're good with knots. I want you to tie these two up."
Jack shrugged and began to tie the struggling men up. Truth be told, he was a little sick of them himself. The knot was tight to prevent escape, but not so tight they'd suffocate.
"Alien cooties," Sands mock shuddered.
"Can't you take anything seriously for once?" Spencer snarled.
"I'm tempted to gag you both, but what fun would that be?" She crouched down again before the two seated and bound combatants, placed just far enough apart so they couldn't kick at each other. "You two are going to sit here until one of two things happen. Number one, you get so fed up with each other that you kill each other without any witnesses around to stop you. Personally I'd miss you both, but right now I couldn't care less. Or two, you settle your differences and make life on the island balanced once more. Sands, I know you believe in balance above all else. And Spencer, surely you must realize that to win you must work together. Now. I don't care if you don't like either of those options. Those are the only two you get. The rest of us will be somewhere far, far away from your bickering. If either of you needs help, just scream. I'm sure someone will come get you. Maybe."
"Oh good, no singing," Sands sighed with relief.
"Would you like me to, SJ? I know how much you love my singing." FF took a breath. Duke, knowing what was about to happen, placed his hands over his ears. The other Johnny's followed his example, figuring he knew best when it came to dealing with the Fiend. SJ would have covered his own ears had such a thing been possible, but he was a bit tied up at the moment. "PLEEEEAAAASSSEEEEE MR. JAILER!"
Had Sands clenched his teeth any harder, they would have crumbled into enamel bits. It seemed like every muscle in his body was contracted rather uncomfortably in an attempt to spring free. Spencer wasn't faring any better.
"Please, stop! I'll do anything!"
FF faked a pout. "I don't think you like my singing at all. Would you really do anything to keep me from singing again, SJ? Spencer?"
Sands looked away, not wanting to tempt fate.
"Anything, you name it," Spencer nodded vigorously.
"Spencer, glad to hear it. We'll get to that in a minute. Sands?"
"I don't beg," he answered stubbornly.
"Oh. Well if that's the case, then I guess I'll just have to sing some more. A strong man knows when he's beaten, Sands." She took another deep breath, preparing to sing.
Sands cringed. "Fine, fine. Stop. Just...no more."
FF rewarded him with a brilliant smile. "You two are going to work out whatever animosity remains between you for the sanity of the rest of the group, savvy? That means no more cruel pranks and only witty snarkish banter if both parties are willing. Is that understood?"
"That's asking the impossible," Sands shook his head.
"Shut up, she'll sing!" Spencer hissed. "We'll do it."
"Spencer is wiling. I'm very proud of you, Spencer. Now Sands, you of all people should know by now that anything's possible. Are you even going to try? I was under the impression that you were an American."
"I hate it when people throw my catch phrases back at me," he murmured wryly. "Besides, if I don't cooperate you'll turn into Babbette or something."
"Eh, green's not a good colour on me." FF said with a shrug. "I want your word, Sands. That you'll at least try to play nice. Yours too, Spencer."
"Promise," Spencer said promptly. Sands sighed.
"Well golly! I can't believe that actually worked! Go me!" FF said delightedly. "You so owe me, Arenas," she addressed the island at large with a wink. "Group hug!" she called out with a laugh. No one moved. Not even Duke. "Oh come on, you big spoilsports. Please? For me?" She feigned innocence.
Bon-bon, perhaps the most comfortable with herself, flung open her arms.
"Alright! You go, girl!" FF said with a laugh, giving Bon-Bon a big hug. Since the rest of the Johnny's weren't playing along, FF went around and gave each of them a hug in turn, smiling like an idiot all the while. She saved the still bound Johnny's for last. "I'm one to take promises very seriously, so if I find out you've lied to me and given a false promise, there will be singing. Now give us a hug." She leaned over and pulled the two Johnny's shoulder to shoulder in an uncomfortable-for them at least-three person hug. When FF had taken a good long moment, she righted them both and turned to the rest of the group. "You can let them go now, I think. They've done good."
Their smiles were weak and all but plastered on, but they didn't say a word. Jack had them free in less than a minute, but the atmosphere on the island had become just a bit greyer.
"Want a grapefruit or something?" Duke asked suddenly. "Full of essential vitamin C. Need all you can get around here."
"Eh too sour for me, Dukey, but give them some. I'm sure they could use it," FF said, looking over Sands and Spencer intently. "Now remember boys, you promised to play nice."
"What do you do for fun on Earth?" Spencer asked all too brightly.
"Uh...tag!" SJ nodded vigorously.
FF rubbed at her imaginary beard in thought. "Yes, tag is fun. I like books and movies myself but I could see how the choices would be a little…limited on an island in the middle of nowhere. You could play golf like they do on Lost but I don't have any golf clubs. Sorry."
Sands reached into Mort's pocket, ignoring the protests, and withdrew a golf club worldlessly.
FF smacked herself in the forehead at her own forgetfulness. "Dur. Magic pockets. Why didn't I think of that? Oh and that was very nifty, SJ. Very…Mary Poppins."
"Thank you, Miss Fiend," Sands mumbled. "C'mon, Spencer, let's go...golf."
"Right-o!" Spencer agreed and the two took off into the brush.
"As long as those two don't beat each other to death with the clubs, I'll be a happy Angel. I'd say we should go supervise, but who knows? Maybe they'll…bond." The other Johnny's gave her a collection of looks varying in incredulity. "What? It could happen."
"I dunno. They've hated each other since they met," Mort pointed out.
"And neither of them will make it easy on the other," Axel sighed.
"Oh hush. You guys are ruining my good vibes," FF muttered.
"The bats are getting agitated," Duke remarked. At the stares, he shrugged. "Just thought you all might like to know."
FF nodded thoughtfully. "That's my cue to leave, I think," she said with a small sigh. "Well it's been real, it's been fun, but it's not been real fun. Kidding! I love you guys."
"Smeep," Duke frowned.
FF hugged him tightly. "It'll be alright, Duke. Be good, ok? And don't let the bats boss you around. They have a tendency to do that if they're not watched close-like, you know," she sniffed.
"I've been watching them close enough. Tricksy little smeeps," he answered mildly.
"Good," she said with a soft smile. "Do good, ok? I know you'll make me proud whatever happens." She gave him a soft kiss on the cheek, conscious of the other Johnny's watching. "I'll see you soon."
"Yeah, and uh...take care of the...Strip...and...iloveyou," he mumbled, also very conscious of the people around him.
FF grinned brilliantly at him, hugging him again tightly and whispering, "I love you too," in his ear before waving to the rest of the Johnny's and walking down the beach the way she came. She didn't look back; she wouldn't have been able to leave if she had.
Sands and Spencer creeped into camp very late that night. The fire was low and the majority of the Survivors had gone to bed, with the exception of Duke who seemed to be conversing with thin air. Spencer shrugged. Beggars can't be choosers.
"Hey, is she gone yet?" he called. Duke jumped, but recovered quickly.
"What?" he snapped.
"Is she gone yet? You know…FF," Spencer elaborated.
"Hm? Oh uh…yeah. She's gone…" Duke muttered.
The two troublemakers sighed with relief and shook hands. Soon afterwards, they realized what they were doing and promptly let go, feeling terrifically awkward.
"So…I'll just go to bed and…" Sands scuffed his foot.
"See you in the morning," Spencer bowed his head.
"Right, right. Bright and early," Sands nodded.
"Yes! Getting along just fine," Spencer backed towards the shelter slowly, a smile on his face. Sands nodded and waited for Spencer to settle down before making his way inside as well. Duke rolled his eyes and returned to his dialogue with the bats.
"You see what I have to put up with everyday?"
"I wouldn't worry until they start talking to imaginary things," one squeaked encouragingly.
"The dark haired one already does," Duke pointed out.
"Oh. Um…it's probably not important anyway."
"I sure hope not."
It was a normal day on the outside. Hungry Survivors demanded breakfast, others ruminated about the state of the game and the challenges. What wasn't apparent were the Survivors that dreamed of a radio that wouldn't turn off or a circle of Hell where you were forced to chase a little white ball for all eternity. Despite the drawbacks, everyone was rather pleasant to each other.
"Anymore rice?" Mort asked.
"About half a bowl left," Bon-bon answered.
"Anybody want it?"
An assortment of "no"s later, Mort was taking another bite of breakfast. Duke looked up to see the clue floating lazily towards him in the claws of several fuzzy bats. He thanked them graciously and read.
A little target practice is nice
If you'd like a bit more than rice
But this isn't for fun
There's immunity to be won
You'll be cooler than the guys on Miami Vice
"Miami Vice?" Mort snorted.
"I wouldn't be talking. You like Chico and the Man," Sands reminded him. Mort shook his head in defeat.
"Guns? I hate guns," Bon-bon moaned.
"Let's not be too depressed now," Spencer announced. "It's bad for morale and…and…"
"Yeah, that," Jack grinned, taking another swig of rum. No one questioned how he always seemed to have a bottle on hand, they just knew he was better off if he had his supply.
"Let's go, then, shall we?" Spencer smiled hopefully.
"Sure," Axel laughed.
The host was leaning comfortably against a cannon, which elicited a gasp of wonder from the group. Guns were all well and good, but a canon…that was a thing of power. And it looked kinda fun, too.
"I trust you all had fun yesterday," the host grinned.
"Oh yes," Spencer nodded.
"Indubitably," Sands agreed.
Duke snorted, "I enjoyed it. They were busy hiding out, playing golf."
"Were not!" Sands yelled petulantly.
"Yeah!" Spencer added.
"Please," Duke snapped.
"So, let's get to the challenge, shall we?" the host chuckled. "In short, you people are going to be blasting those targets over there with this cannon. That cool?"
"Targets?" Bon-bon asked.
"Targets. Over there. You're trying to shoot your opponents' colors before people knock yours down. It's pretty easy, if you know how to use a cannon. I can't imagine you'd have a chance to try though," he winked. Duke said nothing, recalling a time in Colorado when a cannon wasn't as far fetched as it sounded. "We drew lots to see who'd go first. Jack. You're up."
The competition was nerve wracking. It was nearly impossible to hit the colored targets, and when a Survivor hit one, it was their own. Murphy's Law was a cruel mistress that day. At that time, just about every Survivor had at least one of their five targets blown to pieces, with the exception of Duke. Duke had Murphy under wraps and the cannon in firm control. His next turn, Duke shot down one of Spencer's navy blue targets, much to Spencer's chagrin.
"Oh come on, I only have two left! That's hardly fair!"
"Everything's fair where Hubert Humphrey's concerned," Duke growled. Spencer scowled and turned away, earning confused and concerned looks from other Survivors. Something was definitely up with Duke.
Sands had taken his turn and chipped one of Axel's targets, but not broken it. The challenge provided nice stress relief, but it was entirely too difficult with the cannon kicking backwards and skewing the shot to either side. He could guess Duke had gotten plenty of practice, judging by the targets he was able to hit time and again. He was even outdoing Captain Jack, who spent more time around cannons than the journalist.
He watched the competition with an aloof air, a candyette balanced lightly between his lips. When it was his turn, he clipped Bon-bon's third hot pink target which sliced it neatly in half. He ignored Bon-bon's glare in favor of leaning against his favorite tree again and chewing the end of the candyette.
"It pulls to the left, sailor."
"Does it, really? What if I said I didn't believe you?"
"I'm not dyslexic and I have fine eyesight."
"I'm not inclined to listen to a figment of my imagination."
"Is that all I am to you?" Babbette shrieked.
"Yeah, more or less."
"I hope you lose this challenge, Mister! You're going to be sorry you ever crossed me-!"
"You okay?" Mort asked Sands curiously.
"Yeah, just having one of those moments."
"That's not good."
"Probably not, but I'm coping."
"Good. Good. That's good," Mort smiled. "It's your turn."
Sands flicked the butt of the candyette away and returned the grin with a smirk. "Thanks, Morty."
Varua- Late afternoon
Duke had everybody on the ropes, but a few were still hanging on. Between the six contestants, they'd manage to take down three of Duke's bright orange targets. Bon-bon, Mort and Axel were out, leaving Spencer (with assumed ray gun experience), Sands (with CIA experience), Jack (with pirate ship experience) and Duke (who just liked explosions of all sorts). Jack blasted another of Duke's targets down. This evened the score, but not enough to put anyone at ease, with one target per remaining Survivor, save Duke.
Sands aimed carefully at a conspicuous orange one beside his last shining black target. He never saw the turtle lumber out of the forest. Babbette butted his thigh as he shot the cannon. The target went wide and blasted his black target to bits.
"Someone get this turtle out of here!" the host shouted. Sands barely spared a hardened glace for the reptilian hanger-on.
"I hope you sleep better tonight."
"I will," she hissed as she was led away.
"Sands, we can redo that one if you want-" the host offered.
"No. I clearly had it coming. I'll…suck it up."
"Are you sure?"
"Can I shoot now?" Spencer asked.
"Uh…yes! Please," the host bowed. Spencer nodded and lined his shot, narrowly missing Duke's second to last target. Not only Spencer, but Jack cursed. Duke had yet to miss a shot; there was no way either of them could pick up a win. Duke knocked Spencer out easily, followed by Jack's half-hearted destruction of one of Duke's last targets. Duke's eye adopted a steely look as he nailed Jack's last target.
"Well, someone's on a roll. Duke wins immunity!"