AN: Apologies that this took forever to get out; my excuses are as follows: started college, writers block, work, having to interact with people in the outernet (never again!). I'd like to say a big thanks to everyone who reviewed/favourited/followed since I posted the first chapter: you guys motivated me to finally finish this one!
This chapter will focus on Jack and contains naughty words on Merritt's behalf. Enjoy!
Jack Wilder felt insignificant on a near daily basis when in the company of the other Horsemen. Not only was he the youngest, he was the most inexperienced of the four which, in Daniel's eyes particularly, meant that he was the most expendable.
This, however, was far from the case and Jack knew this very well. He had come to learn over the years that everyone had some kind of purpose. His, he had decided long ago, was to make people laugh.
Being the sleight that he was, Jack was particularly good at violating the safety of people's pockets. Whilst it was frankly laughably easy for him to sneak things out of pockets and bags (which he did to Merritt at least once a day because it was hilarious), it was just as easy for him to slip things into them; that was where the fun began for the whole group.
It was six months into their year of planning for their big heists that Jack decided that the tension around them was just too much. Daniel had, if it were possible, become even more of a control freak in the half a year since they'd all met, which resulted in hours upon hours of rehearsal and taking notes and double-, triple-, quadruple- and quintuple-checking. Merritt would deliberately make fun of him to piss him off, which ended in a shouting match and the two parties storming to their rooms and ignoring each other (save for their constant snide comments and condescending looks) for days. Henley would somehow work him into arguments that almost qualified on the Richter scale due to their earth-shattering properties, which ended in Merritt and Jack leaving the apartment in the hope that their possessions, at least, would be in one piece when they returned. As for Jack, he was the only one who didn't really annoy Daniel (though that didn't stop the older magician from chastising him for every single mistake he made with a comment like 'how can you expect to be accepted into the Eye when you make such ridiculous errors?!').
With all of these aspects of the Horsemen's lives adding up to a stiflingly tense atmosphere around them 98% of the time, Jack set out to create the Most Awesomely Tension-Shattering Group of Perfectly Executed Pranks of All Time Ever.
Phase One: Attack of the Dobby.*
This started with a missing sock. More accurately: it started with Jack stealing a sock when Daniel was out on the weekly shopping trip.
It was a well-known fact that Daniel had to have things the way they were supposed to be at all times, be it making sure all of the knives, forks and spoons were in their respective sections of the cutlery drawer or ensuring that every aspect of each of their shows went without flaw. So, it was no surprise to Jack (who had laughed at how easy it had been to break into Daniel's room) when he found fifteen pairs of socks, rolled into meticulously neat balls and arranged in lines of three (gaps to the right of the third line and in the middle of the fifth where Daniel had obviously worn socks recently) to the left of the second drawer down in the chest at the side of Daniel's room. Said socks, Jack noticed, had been arranged in order of shade (the lightest grey in the top left hand corner, the black at the bottom right) and there was nothing more colourful than charcoal grey in sight.
Looking down at his own socked feet, the left sock orange with a hole encircling the top of his big toe, the right bright green decorated with red and white striped stockings, Jack was glad that Daniel's control freak-ed-ness stretched to the lengths shown in the sock drawer before him; if he'd been even slightly more messy then Jack's job would be a heck of a lot harder.
With this in mind, Jack quickly stripped off his Christmassy sock, pulling out a random pair from the middle of Daniel's arranged assortment, undoing the ball and replacing one of the mid-grey socks with his own. Taking not quite enough effort to make sure the socks were put back looking remotely like he'd found them (because, Jack figured, Daniel was supposed to find out that one of his socks was missing, that was the point), Jack put everything back (just about) where he found it and made his quick and sneaky exit.
The next part of Phase One was implemented ten minutes later, when Jack saw Merritt.
It was all too easy for the sleight to slip his newly-acquired sock into the man's jacket, especially seeing as Henley had just pulled him (literally) out of bed and forced him to get dressed. Jack smirked slightly as he followed Merritt into the kitchen.
"Dude!" he exclaimed, clapping him on the shoulder with one hand whilst using the other to slip the sock into his pocket, "It's, like, four in the afternoon! How can you sleep for that long?!"
"A well-polished combination of pissing Daniel off, booze and practice," Merritt muttered in reply, setting about to make himself a coffee.
Jack left the room, his smirk widening further.
He put Phase Two into action immediately: Operation Escape the Escape Artist (honestly, Jack figured he should have been a spy or something, his plan was genius...).
Phase One of his plan involved getting Daniel pissed at Merritt; Phase Two needed Henley to be mad at Daniel. And what did Henley hold most dear?
Her gloves, obviously.
But, additional to that, Henley cared about her style: she cared about what she looked like. Sure, her gloves were part of that, but what Henley really cared about was her entire wardrobe.
Which was how, an hour later, all of Henley's clothes were somehow (and Jack had absolutely no idea how this could have happened) spread across the roof of their apartment building; Jack had kept a single glove aside, however, to (badly) hide in Daniel's room. Hanging up in her wardrobe in place of her clothes were the sheets of fabric she used in her performances occasionally, which had previously been locked aware in a storage cupboard labelled 'IMPORTANT MAGIC ITEMS; DO NOT TOUCH WITHOUT DANIEL'S PERMISSION'. Jack had honestly found the small, average padlock on the door quite insulting.
It did, however, place suspicion on Daniel, because Jack had promised that he wouldn't use his pickpocketing skills unless it was necessary for a show, and would Jack ever go back on a promise?
Well, the important thing was that he could act like he'd never go back on a promise, and so key-holding Daniel, who was unknowingly in possession of one of the woman's precious gloves for no apparent reason, was Henley's only possible suspect, getting Jack out of the line of fire. Which led to Phase Three: Operation ANSA (Alcoholics Not-So Anonymous).
Merritt had made it painfully clear that his average daily alcohol intake was roughly a mile over way-too-much; wherever Merritt went, alcohol was sure to follow. Merritt often likened his addiction to 'a deranged, insane and clingy ex-wife who gives very, very good sex'.
It doesn't really need to be said that he was drunk at the time this statement was made.
This gave Jack the perfect opportunity to make sure Merritt had a bone to pick with Henley: the aim of Phase Three.
Having been rudely awoken from his slumber, it didn't take Merritt long to fall asleep again on the sofa, as Henley got in the shower at the perfect moment (Jack couldn't believe how many things had gone his way, it was frankly astounding that his insanely complicated and near-impossible plan hadn't been ruined yet). Enter Jack, who spent the next twenty minutes (the whole twenty minutes) collecting up every form of container that held any alcohol in the entire apartment.
It took him six trips to stow all of the bottles, cans and glasses on top of Henley's wardrobe, hidden behind some storage boxes she had up there; he left the room, closing the door quietly behind him (though he doubted the female Horseman would have heard it over her singing) just as Daniel returned with the shopping.
Jack casually strolled towards the front door, raising his eyebrows as a soaking wet Daniel staggered in with eighteen shopping bags.
"I don't care what Henley says," the man muttered, "Next time, I'm taking the car, even if the store is only down the street."
"So, er..." Jack grinned, "Is it raining outside?" which was a genuine question, because it hadn't been raining when he'd hidden Henley's clothes.
Daniel glared at him. "Just put this lot away, would you?" he grumbled, "I need to change."
Jack nodded, picking up a few of the bags Daniel had just dumped on the floor as the Showman walked through to his bedroom to swap his wet clothes for dry ones. As he walked through the living room, he nudged Merritt with his foot, waking the man.
"Wait, what?" Merritt said, looking around confusedly.
"Daniel's home," Jack told him, carrying on into the kitchen, "Just thought I'd warn you." Merritt rolled his eyes.
"Oh, joy!" he said sarcastically, standing up and stretching, "God, I need a drink..."
And in the space of three minutes, Jack's plan fell into place as perfectly as it could have done.
Daniel picked out a certain medium-grey pair of socks.
Henley got out of the shower and moved towards her wardrobe to get out a new set of clothes.
Merritt went looking for the drink he supposedly needed to deal with Daniel's presence.
And Jack waited, putting the shopping away as normally as he could manage, the grin on his face growing by the second.
Silence spread throughout the apartment as Jack's three victims took in what had happened. Then:
"Where is my other sock?!"
"Where are my clothes?!"
"Where is all my fucking alcohol?!"
The three suddenly communed in the living room, Daniel barefooted but now in dry clothes, Henley wrapped in a towel with her wet hair dripping onto the carpet and Merritt looking strangely sober.
"Whose sock is this?!" Daniel demanded, holding up the bright green Christmas sock that Jack suddenly had an intense attachment to.
"Hey, that's mine!" Jack said, walking through from the kitchen, "I've been looking for that everywhere. Thanks, Daniel."
"No, no, that wasn't my point," Daniel said, glaring at the sock in Jack's hand, "My point is where is my sock?!"
"Yes, Danny, because that is totally more important than the disappearance of all my clothes!" Henley snapped, "Where are they?! This obviously wasn't an accident so tell me where they are and no one will get seriously hurt."
"Yes, yes, your problems are very touching and, I assure you, you're next in line," Merritt said, his voice deadly quiet, "But if I don't get a drink soon, I'm going to start flipping shit."
"Woah, woah, guys," Jack held his hands up, finding it more and more difficult to hide his smirk as their anger progressed, "I'm sure this is all a total misunderstanding..."
"No one touches my socks, ever."
"All my clothes, Jack!"
"Good God, I need a drink!"
"Look, we'll have a look around," Jack said, "Maybe everything will turn up?"
No one could fault Jack's plan (because how could they with his innocent little face) and so the group set about searching the apartment, Henley borrowing some pyjama bottoms and an old t-shirt of Daniel's until her clothes were found. After three quarters of an hour and no discoveries (god, were these people blind, Jack would have found everything ages ago... had he wanted to), Daniel was on the brink of a nervous breakdown, Henley was seething and Merritt was having withdrawal symptoms.
"I swear to god, Merritt, if this is you playing some dumbass trick to try and be funny..." Daniel growled.
"Oh please, don't flatter yourself," Merritt bit back, "Why would I want one of your socks?!"
"I don't know, why don't you tell me?" Daniel retorted.
"What, do you want to search me?!" Merritt challenged, "Please!" he exclaimed, opening his arms welcomingly, "Be. My. Guest."
Daniel wasted no time in taking the man up on his offer and Jack watched, barely hiding his glee as he slipped his hand into the pocket that currently hid the sock.
Daniel froze for a moment before pulling the sock out, looking between it and Merritt with a semi-shocked, semi-triumphant expression on his face. Merritt was blinking quickly, his already fragile mind confused by this sudden turn of events.
"I'd love to say that I can explain," he managed to utter after a moment, "But I haven't got a fucking clue how that got in there."
"Oh, sure," Daniel snarled, "You have been waiting for me to be out the way so that you could do something like this!"
"Oh, of course!" Merritt argued back angrily, "Because, if I were to steal something of yours, of course I would hide in my own pocket! That's a totally logical thing to do!" Before Daniel could reply or even react, Henley's voice rang out through the entire apartment complex.
"Jonathan Daniel Atlas, where are my clothes?!" the three men looked confusedly at each other (only two of them genuinely confused, of course) before rushing to where Henley was stood in Daniel's room.
"What?" Daniel said tentatively after a moment of her staring at them.
"Danny," Henley said, her tone deadly, "Where. Are. My. Clothes?"
"I have no idea," Daniel said, looking confused, "Why would I know wh-" Henley held up the single glove that Jack had left peeking out from one of the drawers of Daniel's bedside table, cutting him off.
"This," Henley said, shaking the glove to prove her point, "Was in your drawer, in your room. So, logically, it would make sense to assume that you know where the rest of my clothes are. Plus, you're the only one with the key to the store cupboard, which is where my fabric was, and my fabric is where my clothes should be. So, please, tell me right this second where they are before I rip every hair out of your head with a toothpick."
"I don't know how that glove got in here and I haven't been in the store cupboard for weeks," Daniel said defensively, "And honestly, I'm hurt that you'd accuse me of-"
"Oh, come off it, Danny, we all know you're such a control freak that you know every inch of this room, back to front, to the centimetre," Henley snapped, "Like you 'wouldn't know' how my glove got in here!"
"You say that as if it's a bad thing," Daniel retorted, "I don't know where your stupid clothes are, Henley, and I don't appreciate you criticising how I live my life."
"Oh, join the club," Merritt muttered. Henley turned to him.
"And what's that supposed to mean?!" she demanded. Merritt snorted humourlessly.
"Just that you can't go eight minutes without making some kind of comment on my drinking habits," Merritt said. He frowned slightly, "Now that I think about it..." he continued, "You've been telling me to cut down on my alcohol for weeks. What, did you think you'd just take it into your own hands?"
"What?!" Henley exclaimed, "You can't seriously be suggesting that I took all your drink!"
"I'm not just suggesting it," Merritt said, "Who else would it be?! Daniel's been out all day and Jack doesn't care! You were so desperate to get me out of my room earlier... making sure I didn't have anything stashed away, were you?"
"You're being ridiculous..."
"Oh, so Merritt's ridiculous but you're not? Figures..."
"Shut up, Daniel!"
"Yeah, Daniel, shut up!"
"Merritt, you're lucky that I haven't literally torn your head off."
"I didn't steal your bloody sock!"
"Then how did it get in your pocket?!"
"No one cares about your sock, Daniel, where are my clothes?!"
As the argument continued in a similar fashion, Jack found that he couldn't keep it in any longer and burst out laughing. The other three didn't quite clock his reaction at first, but eventually fell silent to stare at the youngest Horseman in confusion.
"Okay, I give up," Merritt said after a moment, "What's funny?"
"You guys!" Jack gasped, still laughing, "You're all so dumb!"
The three didn't say anything for a moment before Daniel sighed, "It was him." He said, gesturing towards Jack, "He did it."
"Did what?" Henley asked, her anger still drifting away but very much present.
"Everything," Merritt continued for Daniel, looking at Jack with some newfound respect, "The sock, your clothes, my alcohol... he did the lot."
"Why?!" Henley asked, now addressing Jack, "What was the point in that?! To piss us all off?!" Jack had just about stopped laughing and rolled his eyes.
"The tension in this place has been ridiculous over the last few weeks," he said, "It was too much to deal with. So I took your stuff and planted it on other people and it made you all argue in a big circle and you didn't even notice that I hadn't been affected!" he started chuckling again, before this progressed into more full-on laughing.
It was infectious enough that, soon after, Merritt was laughing as well, followed by Henley and then Daniel, despite the fact that they didn't have all that much to laugh about.
Just like that the tension was gone; Jack had not only made them all laugh, but he'd unintentionally got them to address several issues affecting the group (Daniel's being a control freak, for instance, and Merritt drinking too much, as well as Henley being slightly judgemental about the other Horsemen's lifestyle choices).
When they'd eventually all stopped laughing, Merritt clapped Jack on the shoulder, "That was a good prank, kid," he congratulated him, "Nice work." He and Henley then looked at him expectantly.
"What?" Jack asked after a moment.
"Where's my booze?" Merritt said, all traces of laughter gone. Jack grinned.
"On top of Henley's wardrobe." He answered.
Merritt sighed, facepalming, "The one place I didn't look..."
"And my clothes?" Henley pressed. Jack made a face.
"They may be slightly damp?" he offered, "I left them on the roof. In my defence," he continued hurriedly at the look of outrage on Henley's face, "It wasn't raining when I put them out there and I tried to put them in enclosed places." Henley growled, storming out of the room.
Jack turned worriedly to Daniel, "She's going to kill me, isn't she?" he asked.
Daniel smirked, "Call it karma for messing with my socks." He said, clapping Jack's shoulder before leaving the man alone.
Jack groaned quietly but then let himself grin again; even if the others hadn't got all that much fun out of it, the Most Awesomely Tension-Shattering Group of Perfectly Executed Pranks of All Time Ever had given him a laugh and had definitely shattered the tension.
In his eyes, that was Mission: Accomplished.
And that's that! I hope you enjoyed and I'm sorry if it doesn't make sense/has mistakes in places; it's half one in the morning for m right now so my brain is all 'kgdkagdkasvbcnxxk' (and yes, that's a technical term).
Review if you feel like making my day (pllleeeaaasseee? :3). Favourite/follow if you deem this worthy ^-^ Until the next time; thanks for reading!