Author's Warning: Like everything else, this takes place in my series, set up by the events in my first story "More Than My Friend" where the big event is that Frankie adopts Mac and becomes his guardian. If you haven't read that story yet, I strongly suggest you do so now, or else you might get terribly confused.
"…Aw c'mon, I just-"
"Don't even try it! You're not going to weasel your way out of-"
"But I just-"
"Can I have them back? Please? I won't even set them off inside, I swear-"
"And what's that suppose to mean? I swear, if you were actually planning to-"
"Um…m-maybe?" Bloo sputtered out his half-answer, while flashing a disarming grin at his redheaded interrogator. However, the smile vanished clean off his face once Frances "Frankie" Foster returned the favor with a harsh piercing glare that practically skewered the little imaginary friend on the spot.
"As soon as I'm done cleaning the gutters outside," the cross caretaker snarled, forcing him to cringe uncontrollably, "I am spraying these with the garden hose until no one can use them ever again. Understand?"
The little imaginary friend gazed longingly at the confiscated pack of firecrackers she held in her hands like a hungry dog gazing at a steak placed out of reach upon a kitchen table.
"Can I just light off just one?" he couldn't help but beg shamelessly as he attempted to win her over with a pair of puppy dog eyes.
Alas, he might as well have been trying to convince a rhinoceros to crawl into a shoebox. Frankie simply rolled her eyes, shook her head disappointedly, and wordlessly plodded through the foyer and out the front doors as she shoved the contraband into her sweater pocket. Once she had exited the scene, the immensely disappointed imaginary friend immediately dropped his cutesy façade and let loose with a high-pitched squeal of aggravation.
"AARRGH! It's not fair!" the furious blob fumed to no one in particular. Muttering darkly under his breath, he turned about and stormed out of the room like a toddler throwing a massive temper tantrum.
"It's not fair! It's just not fair!" he continued to wail as he moodily stomped down a hallway, hitting the walls indiscriminately with flailing stubby appendages. "This place is like a prison with Miss Killjoy breathing down my neck twenty-four-seven! She never lets me do anything! It's always 'blah blah blah, don't do that', or 'do you even know what flammable means?' Blecch! Nasty, mean ol'…"
Thus, he continued for the next five minutes or so, nearly working himself in a frenzy. Even when he had finally ceased his storming around the first floor to try and take his mind off the injustice, he continued to murmur darkly under his breath.
"Hmph…it's just not fair…" the little creature grumbled as he tried to keep himself occupied with his paddleball, which if anything was only making him even more irked as he persistently failed to strike the small rubber ball. "Never get to do anything fun…nothin' at all, just gotta try and hit this dumb ol' ball, which doesn't…wannna….argh! C'mon, c'mon, you stupid-"
Unbeknownst to him, though, fate seemed to have either a peculiar sense of irony, or maybe just a cruel sense of humor. Either way, without warning…
Bloo's stopped whining once he heard the unmistakable sounds of a minor disaster in progress. As soon as the piercing shriek nearly spooked the unsuspecting imaginary friend half to death, he instinctively whirled around and glanced towards the nearest window, just in time to see a ladder topple over to the ground.
Of course, that alone was nothing to be alarmed about. The fact that a familiar lanky redhead plummeted by the widow like a stone with a scream followed by a thud, however nearly gave the little blob a massive heart attack on the spot.
"…F-Frankie?" the stunned figment croaked hoarsely after gawking blankly at the half-opened window for a good several seconds while he remained rooted where he stood in shock.
Once the initial surprise wore off though, without a moment's pause, he leapt into the windowsill, not even pausing to open the window all the way to allow in an easier exit outside, and opted instead to squeeze through like a giant blue eel in his haste. The moment he had made the short descent to the ground, he took one look at the scene of the catastrophe and nearly went as pale as a corpse.
There Frankie lay on the grass on her side in an undignified sprawl a few feet from the toppled ladder. Save the fact that she was down on the ground, she appeared perfectly fine. That is, until he spotted the crimson dripping from her forehead.
Shaking slightly, he warily plodded a foot or two closer, and to his horror, his worst fears were confirmed; an unmistakably large cut marred the caretaker, and already he could see the awful trickle of scarlet begin to drip onto the grass. Bloo quickly glanced up, and once he spotted the freshly made dent in the aluminum gutter she had been cleaning moments before, it didn't take a rocket scientist to understand what had just happened.
For a few moments, Bloo was frozen with absolute horror, and could do little but remain as he was and pray frantically this was all some ingenious prank. However, when the semi-conscious young woman wretched her eyelids half open and whimpered of pain, the badly shaken imaginary friend instantly found himself galvanized into action.
"Frankie!" he yelped as instinctively he scuttled over, regardless of the fact that she had been the focus of his intense hatred just minutes ago. Frankly, he couldn't explain any of it himself; all he knew was that this was absolutely no time to deny anyone aid over a few confiscated fireworks. He simply couldn't bear to leave her like this, wounded and helpless. Moving as gingerly as he could, he delicately slipped a stubby appendage under the injured caretaker's head and supported it gently.
While doing so, he didn't even realize that in the process he had automatically clamped his free hand directly over the cut in an attempt to staunch the bleeding. It felt disgustingly warm and sticky to the touch, and at first he wasn't sure whether he wanted to withdraw his stub immediately or not. As soon as Frankie grunted in agony as soon as he made contact with the throbbing tender spot, he quickly remembered what he was doing this for, and forced himself to keep his stub clamped tightly over the wound.
"Ohhh…" the horrendously disorientated redhead swore weakly as jolts of pain wracked her skull. "W-what…what h-happened? What…"
"Y-you…uh…y-you…um…" the little imaginary friend tried to stammer.
"Ow!" she yelped as a particularly sharp pang of agony ripped through her. "My head -"
"Shh! D-d-don't m-move!" Bloo squeaked huskily, having little recourse other than to repeat what he had seen actors do on daytime TV. "It'll be o-okay, y-you'll…you'll be just…"
He trailed off as he struggled to get his muddle thoughts into order. What in the world was going on? No less than five minutes ago his biggest worry was if he'd get his fireworks back. Now, here he was, the only soul witness to a most hideous accident and thus the only one who could offer her any help whatsoever.
Bloo couldn't lie; he was confused, disgusted, and frightened out of his mind by the bewildering turn of events. He was no medic; he had enough trouble as it was applying Band-Aids. Yet despite all this, all instinct seemed to be anchoring him firmly in place, and he knew himself that he didn't have the heart to leave her like this, even if to go for help.
As his mind became a chaotic maelstrom of panicked confusion, Frankie managed to focus her blurring vision on her unexpected rescuer and seemed almost surprised as she finally seemed to acknowledge his presence for the first time.
"Huh?" she grunted dumbly. "Wha-"
Before she could finish, she uttered another moan as she started to drift towards unconsciousness, much to Bloo's severe alarm. Although he was far from a licensed doctor, he had wasted more than enough afternoons watching reruns of soap opera-like medical dramas to understand one thing; unconsciousness after head trauma could mean serious danger. What exactly would happen next, he had absolutely no idea, but he had no desire to take any chances.
Unfortunately, by this point the panic had worn off enough only to let terror the likes of which he had never felt before set in, as Frankie seemed to fade from consciousness in his very arms. Bloo began to emit frightened squeaks of distress as his little body began to quiver uncontrollably with fright. Something unforeseeably terrible could occur because of this, and he unfortunately was the only one there to try and stop it. But how? She had to stay awake, but what in the world was there he could do to force her to endure her pain and-
Before he nearly went hysterical with panic, it was as if divine intervention had taken control as he suddenly remembered the invaluable weapon he had at his disposal; his incredible gift of being the most unbearably annoying pest of a living creature for miles around.
With not a second to spare, he licked dry lips, looked Frankie directly into her nearly closed eyes, and with a faked grin, began taunting her.
"Passing out, huh? Figures!" he scoffed in mock disgust. "You'd do anything to get out of work, wouldn't you? Lazy blubber-butt!"
For a few moments, he caretaker lay perfectly still, other than the rise and fall of her chest and the trickle of blood still leaking from her cut. Just when the mortified figment thought he was too late, like magic her eyelids fluttered about halfway open, as her expression switch from one of dazed agony to genuine befuddlement.
"Huh?" she grunted dumbly as she peered up through bleary jade eyes. "W-what? Bloo? Wait… what's-"
As the joy surged through him, the imaginary friend hastily took her response as the encouragement he needed to continue the most unorthodox First-Aid method.
"I would've expected this from you!" he continued with a faked sneer. "You march around the house and boss us around with your whiny nagging like you own the place! But when it comes to an honest day's work, you'd rather sit on your fat butt and wolf down cookies in front of the TV, Little Miss Lard-Tushie!"
If there was one thing he knew about the feisty redhead, it was that she never took any insult standing down. His teasing worked like a charm, and immediately her eyes not only opened all the way, but also nearly shot to the size of saucers in her undignified disbelief.
"W-what?" she sputtered incredulously. For a second, she simply stared dumbly, unable to believe his brazen impudence. Just an instant later, the ache of her wound and her confusion quickly crumbled like a house made of sand as her infamous temper rapidly possessed her.
"Lazy? What do you mean, lazy?" she hissed venomously. "You little troll, I work my fingers to the bone everyday for the house, and you know it! I make your meals, wash your sheets, and I clean up all your messes! But do I get any thanks from a rotten ungrateful rat like you?"
"Thanks? For what? Thanks for being such a chubby piggy the shade of your big flabby butt weighs five hundred pounds?" Bloo continued, nearly ecstatic with relief. "Seriously, that thing needs its own area code or something!"
Frankie's eyes nearly bulged out of her skull with torrid rage as she jabbered fiercely in reply. "You little creep! How dare you? How dare you have the nerve to-"
"You know what? I hope you don't stay awaaaake!" he trilled in an annoying singsong manner. "Yup! Hope you don't!"
"What?" the still dazed caretaker snapped. "Stay awake for what? Bloo, I don't know what you're up to, but if you think I'm going to drift off or something, then you got another thing coming! I-"
"Ooooh, I can't wait!" he continued with the same goofy smile as continued to rain down with the lifesaving taunts. "With you out of commission, I get your whole room all to myself! First I'm gonna check out all your tunes, and then I'm gonna go on your computer and...oooh, I bet your wallet's up there too, isn't it? Perfect! I can use your credit card to finally buy that new -"
"Don't you even think about it, mister!" she snarled ferociously like an enraged tigress as soon as he threatened to invade her sanctuary. "I swear, if you do so much as take one step into my room while-"
"Well," he replied cheekily with an aggravatingly insolent smirk. "Whose underwear drawer am I supposed to root through? Madame Foster's?"
Not only was he clearly achieving his goal, he had nearly turned the tables at this point; for a moment it looked like he was the one in danger as the caretaker let loose with such a horrific blood-chilling screech it was like she was about to throttle him on the spot.
"…Fortunately, her injuries weren't as severe as we first thought when we brought her in; just a few bruises, although there was the matter of her head wound-" the nameless doctor tried to explain to a very shaken Madame Foster.
"Oh, dear!" the old woman exclaimed worriedly. "Is she going to be-"
The doctor flashed a reassuring smile as she continued on quite calmly. "Not to worry, she'll be just fine. Your granddaughter did need some stitches on her forehead, but fortunately for her the head trauma she received from the accident was hardly as serious as it could've been. Luckily she never lost consciousness, and the paramedics tell me she was awake and talking all the way to the-"
"Really?" Madame Foster asked with a smile and a heavy sigh of relief, while the medical expert actually grimaced a little.
"Well… to be honest with you…they actually kept remarking about how she kept…um, swearing the entire time, and…"
The two carried on their discussion in the midst of the bustling hospital hallway, not too far away from the nearby room where a small figment was relentlessly fussing over a certain redhead, who fortunately was actually doing quite well considering the ordeal she had just been through.
"…You sure you're going to be okay?" Bloo inquired for possibly the twentieth time, appearing almost uncharacteristically concerned as he asked. At this point, Frankie couldn't help but giggle a little as she gingerly touched the heavy bandage covering her stitches.
"For the last time, I'm all right." She chuckled as she gave him a grateful pat on the head. "The doctor told us already that I'm going to be perfectly fine."
While she lounged comfortably in the hospital bed, the fretful figment still wasn't quite convinced. "Yeah, but earlier, you were bleeding all over-"
"It wasn't a serious cut at all." She reminded. "Trust me, I've been through worse."
"I…I guess so…" Bloo finally conceded, although he was obviously still a bit frazzled by the whole experience, in surprisingly stark contrast to the caretaker who appeared to be simply relieved that she was all right. As the fussy blob started to reach up to try and adjust her bandage a smidgeon, she couldn't help but snort with laughter as she suddenly leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him.
"Hey! Hey, whoa! What're you doing?" Bloo yelped, as he was quite unused to such affection from her. The young woman just chortled as she hugged the little creature tightly.
"Finally getting around to thanking you." She replied with a smirk. Almost immediately, the normally azure imaginary friend began to blush furiously.
"I…I-I…" he stammered as he glowed scarlet. "I was…I was only…well, y-you were hurt, and…and…it didn't seem right to just…and I couldn't really think of any other way to…y'know…"
Rather than boast shamelessly as he was apt to do after doing anything right, he was actually showing some modesty for once as the open display of her gratitude embarrassed him deeply. Amused, the young woman quickly released her hold as she decided to express her thanks another way.
"Okay, okay…how about this; see over there?" Frankie asked as she pointed to where her green jacket lay neatly hung over a plastic chair.
"Uh huh." Bloo grunted.
"Y'know...the firecrackers are still in one of the pockets…" she explained with a grin. "Just one condition; light them off outside, and if the rabbit asks, as far as he knows I didn't have any idea that you even bought them. Deal?"
It was like music to the imaginary friend's non-existent ears as he lit up like a toddler who had just been given a balloon. "You mean I really get to-"
"Seriously, how many lives do you have, Frankie Foster?" someone breathlessly interrupted them. Frankie immediately turned her gaze towards the plainly flustered young woman with curly black locks who just appeared in doorway.
"I mean, God almighty!" Kathy exclaimed. "Are you trying to give me a heart-attack before I even turn twenty-five?"
Before the startled redhead could answer, the aggravation had vanished from her friend's expression, and in a flash Kathy was at her side and hugging her tightly. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! It's just...oh, c'mon, Frankie, you have got to stop scaring me like this!"
"It's okay, it's okay! I'm fine, honest! It was just a little accident. Don't worry, I look a lot worse than I really am." Frankie hastily reassured as she pat the other woman on the back gently. "It's okay, Kathy. Seriously, I'm just fine."
As her friend heaved a sigh of relief and withdrew from the squeeze, the caretaker didn't take long until she inquired anxiously, "Uh…so, did you bring-"
"Ackpth! Oh, right, right, almost forgot! I went and picked him up at school as soon as I got off the phone with your grandma. Sorry, just gimme a sec!" Kathy answered before turning around, darting back to the doorway and whistling sharply, as if calling for a puppy. "Hey, kiddo! Over here! Over here! I found her! The room's right over here! C'mon, this way! I found-"
She hastily hopped aside to allow the veritable blur to zip into the room and clamber up onto the bed before practically lunging at Frankie.
"Whoa! Hey, easy, pal! Easy!" she only laughed as Mac threw his arms around her neck and squeezed tightly.
"Are you okay?" the extremely worried little boy blurted out between his ragged gasps for breath. "What happened? I-I was called down to the principal's office, and Kathy was there to-"
"Shhh, settle down, pal." His guardian just hushed reassuringly as she hugged the spooked child right back and stroked his head. "No need to be scared, I'm just fine. Don't worry"
As she sauntered towards the side of the bed, Kathy glanced at their surroundings before remarking sarcastically, "I can't put my finger on it…but something tells me otherwise."
"Oh cut if out." Frankie groaned. "It's nothing, just a bad knock on the head. Seriously, the doctor's told me I'll get to go home by the end of the day. Now, if I didn't start screaming my head off at a certain someone back home and got everyone else's attention, then things wouldn't have been so fine-"
"Screaming at who?" Mac inquired curiously. Frankie smirked….and quickly realized she couldn't find a certain azure figment for the life of her.
"Uh…I…I was yelling at….um…see, to keep me awake, he started taunting me so….er…so that…" the terribly confused young woman tried to explain as she cast her gaze about wildly. Meanwhile, Kathy shot her a concerned look.
"You sure you're as fine as you say you are?" she asked, before holding up her hand to test her friend's word for herself. "Okay, look here; now, tell me how many fingers I'm holding up-"
"I'm not making this up!" Frankie snapped with a nasty glower. "I swear, he was right here just a minute ago! For Pete's sake, he was sitting right here on the bed when you guys-"
Without warning, all three were nearly spooked clear out of their skins when it suddenly felt as if the Fourth of July was happening right outside in the hallway. As a mix of panicking patients and hospital staff dashed by the door in haste to escape what sounded suspiciously like several firecrackers going off, a little imaginary blob suddenly hurled himself into the room, slammed the door behind him, and while still clutching several remaining fireworks tightly, without further ado he dashed under the bed.
While the others began to recover from their initial surprise, Frankie just buried her face in her hands and simply let out a regretful sigh as Bloo piped up hopefully from his makeshift refuge. "I-I…I didn't do it outside, so…that doesn't count, does it?"