a/n: It's been so long since I've updated. I'm sorry! There was no inspiration and to write felt like sucking on a lemon. But I'm okay now. Strange as it is, Zora got me through this chapter. I have such big plans for her. But for the purpose of the continuity, second season has not occurred.
chapter seven: Desperation
"It's horrible," Grady blurted out instantly upon trampling into the prophouse. He collapsed onto the large sofa, throwing an arm over his eyes. His shoes barely cleared the edge as Nico too fell back against the pillows in a dramatic fashion. Nico stared at the ceiling despondently.
"It's worse than horrible, it's terrible."
Nico crossed his arms over his chest, lounging lazily on the sofa. "This is turning into a bad day."
The blonde boy wet his lips, puckering them in deep thought. His arm slid off his face. "You know, I think I read a book like that once."
Nico's eyes slid to his best friend. "You read a book?"
The pitch was mixed with confusion and disbelief. Grady didn't seem so bothered by the reaction, however. If anything, he agreed. "I know! It was just the once. I think I was sick or something." He mused at the concept of voluntarily reading a book.
Grady nodded, the back of his head rubbing against the cushion. "Yep."
A silence descended upon the two as the lack of conversation whittled away their concentration. Engrossed in their own thoughts and desperate to forget about lunch, it seemed to be working just fine. If it weren't for the awkward tension in the room, that is. It wasn't often that the two friends just sat without doing an activity of some sort. Even if it was silly, to the opinion of some (Tawni).
Nico silenced his stomach's whine with a pillow, muffling the sound so Grady couldn't hear. Although he did forget a pillow couldn't stop the scraping emptiness demanding to be filled. "So what kind of book was it?"
Grady pinched his face, struggling to remember. "It was about bad days. Very philosophical." He added after a moment, eyes sneaking a peek at Nico, hoping he'd not catch the outright lie.
"Sounds . . ." Nico drifted into silence, unable to grasp onto any particular adjective. Deep? Nice? Interesting? Cool?
Grady nodded once again in complete understanding, the back of his head rubbing against the cushion. "Yep," he drawled in no particularly interest. "Hey, d'ya hear that?"
Nico popped open one eye, blearily glancing at his best friend before his mouth contorted into a large yawn. He waited a moment, listening intently before replying, "Unless you mean that odd thumping noise, no. I didn't hear a thing."
"We're in luck, my friend. It just so happens that was what I meant."
Nico adjusted his arms instead of rolling his already closed eyes. "If that's what you meant, why didn't you say so?"
Grady pinched his mouth into a frown as he objected, "I did say so."
Nico sat up, causing the pillow to slip into his lap. As it teetered precariously on his knees, about to fall, Nico threw an arm out to firmly trap any movement. He distrustfully eyed the pillow, silently daring it to move. "You asked if I heard 'that'. Not the same as saying, 'Hey Nico, do you happen to hear that strange thumping sound which is growing increasingly closer?'"
Grady paused, reflecting privately.
"It does sound like it's coming this way."
The confirmation did little to ease their thoughts. "Reminds me of great-grandma Nicolette after the cooler went out. She'd hit that thing until we thought it'd fall out the window."
Grady paused at Nico's idle comment, curiosity rolling it over. "Nicolette?" He questioned slowly, as if uncertain of himself or not truly knowing the question he wanted to ask.
"I'm named after my great-grandma, you got a problem with it?"
Nico demanded, not quite raising his head but angling it toward his friend on the sofa. He managed to glare as well, daring his friend to speak negatively. His friend, whether by mindful respect or dumbfounded shock, sat and absorbed the information given to him.
"Actually," Grady began, his eyes popping open and scanning the ceiling, "It explains a lot."
A girl stood in the doorway, catching her breath from the effort of her endeavor. "Explains what?"
Sonny winced at their harmonious shriek, registering their odd behavior. "Okay, thanks for the warm welcome."
Nico appeared chagrined at her sarcasm. "You did surprise us. And what are you doing?" He demanded as she slid down against the doorway as opposed to crossing the room to sit on the sofa.
Grady pulled a face. "Yeah. Trust me, I know from experience. The floor is not the best place to sleep."
"One, I'm not sleeping on the floor. That's just gross. Two, apparently Tawni decided to read this book- she's trying anyway, that's the important part. So this book has a chapter about childhood memories. One of which happens to be hopscotch. So you ask, Sonny, why have you hopped all the way here and are short of breath?"
Grady shook his head with a silly grin as he pointed out jovially; "Clearly anyone could see the activity caused you shortness of breath."
Sonny tilted her body to fully glare at the blonde. "Clearly."
"So like usual, Tawni has a brilliant idea. She never played as a kid, and somehow roped Zora and me into it." She slowly began again, confusion seeping into her voice. "Did you two really not notice all the uncarpeted hallways covered with hopscotch patterns?"
In truth, Nico and Grady hadn't. So occupied with starvation, the markings on the floor went completely unseen.
Sonny shrugged, not finding this new or particularly surprising. "But apparently we have more experience than her. So as a penalty, we all had to do hopscotch in heels. Not an easy thing to do," she mused, now frowning as she regarded the shoewear.
Nico's eyes widened as he wondered how he had missed the bright yellow stilettos, especially with her pants rolled up. Most likely so the heels wouldn't get caught on the fabric.
"Looks dangerous," commented Grady.
All three jumped in surprise at Zora's sudden appearance. Yes, she still wore the aqua green heels. With these she had also added a scooter and plain white helmet.
Nico stood up, wandering over with increased interest. "Decided to cheat?"
Zora wasn't bothered with the accusation, in fact, she grinned. "Even better," she boasted. "On the eleven, Tawni got a text about some sale at Endless 21."
"Bricks!" Nico cursed, swinging his arms in an angry gesture that caused Sonny to jump to avoid being violently elbowed. "I was hoping we could do this with the whole gang but I guess Tawni gets left out. We gotta do somethin' about lunch. I don't know if you've heard but Mr. Condor needs to be submitted into a loony bin-" Nico emphasized, hands spread out wide before latching onto Zora. "It ain't pretty. No food for us actors. No food!"
Grady started to shake Sonny with a firm grip on her shoulders. "There's laws against this," he hissed, eyes slanted dangerously.
"Right." Nico's hands were trembling even after he released Zora. He quickly replaced Grady as Sonny's imposing figure. "Which is why we need a gameplan. Some way to last the rest of the week. 'Cause I can't take this anymore. Save us Sonny."
"Save us Sonny," Grady echoed.
Sonny's mouth formed an 'o' before disappearing into further confusion, all potential verbalization lost. After a moment, most likely to gather her thoughts, she tried again with success.
"...What did you guys have in mind?"
Grady stood up from his pleading position on the floor, affronted. "That's why we need you," he pointed out. "Zora's good at evil, twisted ideas. Devious. Even when it's unintentional, she usually ends up making things worse." He advised sagely.
Zora chuckled fondly as she stored her helmet under her left arm.
Nico frowned at Sonny. "I'd rather not serve community service this time. Honestly, I just wanna eat. Is that a crime?"
"I can make it one," Zora quipped easily.
Sonny warily eyed the shorter girl. "Okay, okay. We have some leftovers from dinner so I guess for today we're eating at my house. But tomorrow is when the fun begins. I'm talking themes, decorations. We're Randoms! Use your imagination and go wild. There is nothing we can't do."
As one, they huddled, gazing off past the right corner ceiling with the coffee stain. The speech from Sonny was exactly as needed: motivational and providing group activity.
From behind the tightly woven cast, Marshall furrowed his brow in puzzlement, wondering what was so special about the ceiling. Beyond the coffee stain, that is. He cleared his throat, interrupting the moment but finding it necessary. He needed to speak to them about the skit change this week.
"Don't you mean there's nothing you won't do?"
Nico glanced at Zora. Zora locked eyes with Sonny. Sonny nodded at Grady. Grady shrugged at Zora. Unspoken communication rounded the circle as each person considered the idea. Finally Nico straightened up, slinging his arms around his cast mates as they faced Marshall. "That too."