They Never Came Back

He did not know what happened to them. Although nobody would blame him. Those four kids had always been so kind to him, while everyone else would only poke fun. They treated him like a friend, when others denied his presence. In their company he felt important, which was something he hadn't experienced before. He wished so much that he would have known. But all he knew was that when they left, they never came back. [NOTE: I must advise that this is definitely not canon. It is a personal interpretation of the story. I realize that it does not line up with Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes, but as that was said not to be completely canon with the games either, I find this permissible. So please take this story, so to say, with a grain of salt. I do hope you enjoy it.] (Revised as of 4/19/17)

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4. Chapter 4

Bernard really did like pizza. He would have even said that he loved it.

Pizza was one of the boy's favorite foods. He had for years now tried so many different kinds, and he had made it his goal to put them all to the test. He could tell you which places to get the best of whatever type or topping you wished. Call it a secret interest of his, even more concealed than his graphic art.

But truly Bernard considered the task of creating the perfect pizza a form of art all on its own. A meticulous project indeed, yet thoroughly subjective. Even so, there was nothing on this earth the boy could think of that could ruin a culinary perfection such as this. 

Then how the heck did this place make it taste like crap? 

Bernard stared down at his half-eaten slice of pizza—more like one-third, give or take. He refused to eat any more of the disgraceful cheese-coated cardboard. Surely over the years he had constructed a wide spectrum of ratings for various different pizzas, but by far Freddy's made the worst he had ever tasted. 

On the contrary, tying in to his analysis of pizza being a "subjective" art, his sister was happily consuming her dinner, already on slice three. How a tiny six-year-old kid could eat so much was beyond him, and it was beyond anyone else as well. There were just some questions of the universe that would never be answered, so Bernard just accepted the mystery for what it was, and left it at that. 

Across the table Vixen and Leveret were eating their dinner as well, and had gotten a bit farther in quantity than Bernard, yet much less than Pazi. They didn't exactly find the food very appetizing either. 

So far the dinner had been quite silent, save for the murmur of customers around them. The air which they all shared and breathed, all perhaps fifty of them, had begun to feel a bit uncomfortable. At least, more uncomfortable than usual. 

Once again, Vixen was the one to rescue them from their pit of tension.

"So Bernard, Pazi," she spoke. "Why couldn't your mom take you to dinner?"

Both siblings glanced up from their food, and stared for an uneasy two seconds.

Vixen frowned, realizing her mistake. 

"I—I mean, unless you don't wanna say," she rephrased, trying to fix what she had said. "I didn't mean to be rude." 

Bernard shook his head. "Nah, it's cool," he assured. He looked down at his pizza slice, deciding whether or not to try yet again and acquire a taste for this sad excuse of a dinner. "She's just working tonight."

Pazi swallowed her mouthful of pizza before she spoke, which was a rare occurrence indeed.

"Bernie said Mommy's work is stupid," she told, and then took another bite.

Bernard cringed. "That's not what I meant, Pazi," he said, reprimanding himself for not watching his words.

This time, Pazi didn't bother to clear her mouth. "That's what you said," she mumbled.

Her brother put a hand to his head and looked over at his friends.

"The bank's been working Mom to death," Bernard informed. "They made her work overtime tonight. I just got kinda mad, that's all."

The two kids nodded in unison, showing that they understood.

"Hey, it's alright, Bernie," Leveret said, to which Bernard narrowed his eyes. "We totally get it. Right, Vix?"

Vixen joined back in. "Yeah, for sure," she agreed. "Sometimes crap just happens. But I'm sure it will turn out okay, you know?"

Bernard grinned. "Hope so," he spoke, as he reluctantly held up his pizza slice. "Thanks guys."

His friends smiled back. "No problem, Bernie," Leveret responded.

Bernard found it not the best time to retort, so he let him use his nickname without argument...this time. He lifted the pizza to his mouth and nibbled at the cheesy breading.

And immediately grimaced. 

No, no no no.

There was no way to acquire a taste for this. He needed to stop trying to fool himself. Bernard had been trying to trick himself into liking this horrible pizza for, what was it, a year now? Nothing had changed; it was just awful. How did his sister actually like this stuff? 

"I wish Mommy didn't have to work," Pazi said, surprisingly not muffled by any food in her mouth.

Bernard turned to her, as she stared down at her mostly-eaten pizza and her stockpile of crescent crusts.

"I know, Pazi," he sympathized. "I wish she didn't have to too."

The little girl looked up at her brother. "Why does she have to work?" she asked, escalating the conversation quite unintentionally. She seemed upset, which was certainly strange. Pazi was not one to become easily agitated.

Bernard strained to keep eye contact. "Well, she needs to work to make money," he answered. "And we need money to buy things."

This did nothing to lighten Pazi's attitude. Bernard was quite befuddled. This mood was very unlike her.

"But why does she have to work tonight?" she pressed, her nostrils flared like a horn's bell. "We have money. She doesn't have'ta work more."

Her brother didn't want to continue this conversation. It was growing into a pretty serious subject.

"'Cause that's her job," he responded, not liking what he had to say. "Someone was sick, and she needed to take their place. That's what you do in a job."

Bernard saddened, seeing his sister so troubled. He didn't like this at all.

"Pazi, what's the matter?" he questioned, in a soft tone he rarely used—for such a tone was rarely needed.

Suddenly her face shown anger. "I don't want Mommy to work!" she yelled. "I want her to stay home!" She crossed her arms in a huff, her brow furrowed with rage.

Bernard was shocked. Needless to say he hadn't expect this, not from Pazi.

"I—I know," he solaced, trying to stay composed despite. "I don't want her to either. But she has to."

Pazi's breathing picked up, as she inhaled sharply through her nose.

"No!" she shouted, which made Bernard jump. "I don't want her to!"

Her brother didn't know what to do. Pazi had never done this before.

"Pazi, please calm down!" he desperately pleaded, but it was apparent that she wouldn't.

"She works every day!" she continued, her expression slowly transforming into grief. "I don't want her to! I miss her!"

Leveret and Vixen watched from across the table, not exactly sure of what was happening either.

"Pazi, you don't understand," Bernard said, as he tried to place his hand on her shoulder. She shook it off, and he knew that it wasn't a sound move. "If she doesn't work, we won't have enough money to stay in our house. Or buy food. Or...or—"

"No!" the little girl screamed again. "I don't want her to!"

Bernard wasn't sure of what had come over him. A strange feeling in his chest, a burning sensation in his cheeks. It was...anger. Toward Pazi. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement, but his mind blocked out that fact.

She wouldn't understand. She wouldn't even try to understand. Bernard could explain his heart away, but it would all be in vain. Their mother worked day in and day out for one purpose and one purpose only: them. If she didn't practically drown herself in work as she did, they would be living out in the streets. And why Pazi couldn't understand that was what filled the boy with rage.

A stormcloud of fury formed in his mind, blocking out his judgement and common sense. In the moment, anger was all he felt, and fire was all he saw. 

"Do you want us to lose our house, Pazi?!" he raised his voice, eyes glaring in a way they never had before. "Do you understand me?! Is that what you want?!"

The little girl stared at her brother...and just stared. As did Vixen and Leveret as well. Pazi's eyes grew misty in time, and her breath inconsistent. Once the blinding fury subsided, Bernard could see clearly.

And realized...he had made a terrible mistake. 

Pazi was only six years old; she didn't understand because she couldn't. She was way to young to take this information anyway. Try as she might her brain wouldn't allow her to accept it, and it had been whirring out of control. It wasn't her fault that she didn't understand, yet he had just reprimanded her for something she couldn't do. In a way that he had no right to speak in. Bernard was a big brother, not a father. 

It was too late for him to remember that crucial fact, and too late to take back his words. 

"Hey, sis," Bernard attempted, using his soft voice again. "I—I'm sorry. Please, I—" 

But she wouldn't have it. She couldn't have it.

Suddenly Pazi burst from her seat, sprinting faster than anyone would have expected. Past her brother and away from the table she ran, tears pouring down her face, and whimpers escaping her throat.

"Pazi!" Bernard called after her, but he was much too late.

The girl disappeared into the next room, where she knew the restrooms to be. Once around the corridor she hid behind the wall, so that not her brother, nor his friends, nor even the observant Albert, could see her.

And there in the corner she curled into a ball, and cried to her heart's content. 

Bernard didn't run after her. He barely uttered a word. He turned back to face the table, and just stared down at it for a while.

His friends stared back at him, neither knowing what to say. The boy buried his head in his hands.

"What did I do?" he spoke. "Why did I say that?" 

Leveret attempted to respond. "C'mon, man. It was an honest mistake," he said. "You just...blew up a little. I'm sure she's fine."

Bernard looked up from is hands. His vision blurred, but he wouldn't let himself cry.

"I'm not so sure," he opposed. "She's never been this upset. And I've never gotten angry like that before. I—I just don't know what to do." 

Vixen was next to try. "It'll be alright," she assured. "This will work out. I mean, I'm not saying you weren't way out of line,"—Bernard grinned; he could always count on Vixen for blatant honesty—"but this is totally fixable. Just give her a while to think, okay? When she comes back Lev and I'll help you talk to her."

Leveret whipped his head around to face her, at her saying what he would do. She looked back at him, with a face that seemed to ask, Are you really gonna act like this now? 

She was right (as always), and he gave in in the end. "Yeah, for sure," he confirmed. "She might need'a be alone for a sec. Don't rush it."

Bernard had been grinning before, but he just full-on smiled. "Thanks, guys," he said, allowing himself to only sniffle, and nothing more.

He really did have the greatest friends in the world. 

"Yo, don't mention it," Leveret said. "We care about that little ball of sunshine too."

Vixen gazed at her friend in disbelief. "'Little ball of sunshine'?" she repeated, as such a thing was very unlike of him to say. She was aware that she and Bernard had been starting to rub off on him, and the evidence had been subtle before, but...never to this degree. 

The boy knitted his brow, but continued to smile. "Well she is!" he defended. "You gonna deny it?"

Bernard laughed, halfheartedly, but laughed nonetheless. "Yeah, she really is," he said. 

And then frowned. "Which...is what makes this really hard." 

<><><><><>

The girl continued to sob, her head propped upon her knees. She held her legs in place with her hands to make sure no one could see her face.

And as she sat there she thought. Thought longer and harder than she ever had in her mere years of living. 

Pazi wanted more than ever to understand. She yearned to know why her mommy was away all the time, to comprehend the reason that she worked so much. But she couldn't. Try as she might nothing made sense, and she couldn't figure out why.

Pazi understood nothing. Taxes, bills, insurance: none of these things had made their way into her mind quite yet. And who could blame her? She was only six years old; money might as well have grown on trees. Currency and capital were not yet a reality to her, therefore this only seemed to be a terrible scheme, a devious plan to take her mommy away from her. 

So not a lot went through her mind exactly, because nothing, no knowledge, no information, was present. There was nothing to pass through.

Only the fact that she didn't understand, for that alone was all she knew. 

Through the sniffles and tears Pazi could hear the pitter-patter of shoes against the checkerboard tile. Customers and employees alike walking to and fro, with quite a hustle she noticed. But the girl didn't find it unusual. She had chosen the room in front of the restrooms as her haven, and the back and leftmost corner as her domain. People made their way into the refuge, rushing either to relieve themselves or their nearly potty-trained kids. No one stopped to check on the child in the corner, to see if she was alright. Although Pazi couldn't have known if anyone had stopped to stare. 

After maybe ten minutes of her solitude, a slowly creeping boredom took hold of her. Sitting in the corner of the restrooms area wasn't exactly all fun and games, and Pazi was starting to feel the brunt of her stubbornness. But she would not rise from her spot, and she most certainly would not go back to the table. The girl had a point to prove here...she didn't know what that point was, but she was very much so going to prove it!

So to appease her humdrum strangulation, Pazi raised her head from her legs, though only barely. Enough to see past her knees and view the many passersby that hurried into one of the two rooms. At least now she had something to do.

It was then that she realized how many people actually did stop and stare. 

And also then that she noticed something. But it didn't notice her. 

For just a few minutes Pazi had watched the parents and children of the restaurant zoom by, so it was no wonder that an animatronic suit caught her eye. She recognized the mascot; it was one of the many that roamed the pizzeria. But something about the robot was different. That being, it wasn't a robot at all. Its fluid gait along with its posture, slightly more like that of a human than the usual restricted movement of the animatronics.

Though this wasn't strange either. Pazi was aware that a few special suits existed that employees were to wear, and were also able to act as normal animatronics when uninhabited. This figure before her she knew to be one of those very suits. 

Funny all the things you are able to learn, when your social-butterfly of a mother can make friends with literally any waiter, anywhere, anytime. 

The yellow character stepped behind the room's opposite wall, as to remain unseen by the dining hall's inhabitants. And once out of sight, it reached up to its face and carefully removed the headpiece.

Revealing a man.

Quite a sweaty man at that.

He placed a fuzzy hand to his forehead, wiping away the beads that had formed. His breath sounded loudly, as if he had just completed a marathon.

During this time the man's eyes had remained closed, but suddenly they opened, and saw the girl.

His previously shut eyes widened.

"Oh no," he uttered, looking down at his headpiece, and then back at Pazi, who had raised her head to see better.

"Um, kid," he sputtered, placing his free hand out before himself, "th—this isn't what it looks like. I—I, uh..."

The girl smiled, which seemed to confuse the employee. "It's okay," she said. "I know they're not real."

The man knitted his brow, for she seemed a bit young to know that. "Oh," he said, and then chuckled. "Alright then!" He was certainly relieved. He had expected the little girl to scream, or even cry, at the sight of one of the restaurant's beloved characters removing its head.

But she didn't. She only smiled, a petite grin that seemed nearly forced.

The man's relief disappeared, as he examined Pazi further. He didn't have to inspect for long, nor to notice her red face or tearstained cheeks. All he needed to realize was...this child was sitting in a corner. 

"Hey, kid," he said, setting the yellow headpiece under his arm. "You okay?"

Pazi gripped her legs more tightly. "...No," she squeaked, gazing down at the floor.

The employee frowned. He seemed to have stumbled upon quite a delicate situation. 

He was up for the challenge.

"Well...may I ask what's wrong?" he requested.

The girl lifted her eyes up to him and stared for a while.

"My mommy..." she spoke, and sniffled thereafter. "I...I don't get it..."

Pazi couldn't hold back the waterworks, and her fit recommenced once again. The man in the suit cringed; that was what he was specifically trying to prevent.

Crying aroused too much attention.

He stepped forward, oblivious to suddenly being seen without a head by the restaurant. "Hey, hey," he whispered, finally reaching the other wall, and becoming concealed once more. "It's alright, kid. Don't cry."

The man knelt beside the girl, still clutching the headpiece under his arm. Pazi, unsurprisingly, didn't stop crying.

"My...my mommy—she works all the time, and—and I just miss her..."

She wiped her eyes with the ball of her hand, as she spilled her mind to the employee.

He scratched his head, but nodded. "Ah," he said. "I understand."

Pazi paused and looked up at the man. "You do?" she asked, still sniffling every once in a while.

"Yeah, I do," he repeated with a grin. "So you don't get why she works, right?"

The girl's eyes widened. She hadn't even needed to explain anything. "Y—yeah," she affirmed.

As sympathetic as he was—or rather as he seemed—he inhaled through gritted teeth. "Well, that's quite a topic to learn at a young age," he said. "Why don't you just ask your mom about it?"

Pazi gazed downward once more. "She's working now," she told.

The man thought for a moment. "Um, how about your dad?"  

"I don't have a dad."

".....oh..."

A silence enveloped the little refuge for a solid minute or so.

"Are you here by yourself?" he continued to attempt. 

The girl shook her head, but didn't raise it. "No," she answered. "Bernard came with me."

The man strained his mind. "Your...brother?" he guessed, mentally crossing his fingers.

His cognitive superstition must have succeeded, because Pazi nodded. 

"Then why not ask him?" the man questioned.

The girl's expression changed drastically. "No!" she burst, which startled the man quite. "He made me mad!"

The employee hadn't expected the outburst, but he went along with it anyway. "He did?" he said. "What did he do?"

Pazi stayed silent for a moment, trying to remember exactly what Bernard had done.

"He...he yelled at me!" she yelled. "He is just mean!" 

The man nodded, as he grinned to himself. "Yeah, I know what you mean," he said. "Sometimes siblings can be cruel."

Pazi looked up at the employee. With that mere statement, she liked him even more. 

And trusted him as well. 

"Yeah!" she agreed. "They're meanies!" But she stopped, as an emerging tear blurred one eye. "But I still don't get it," she confessed, bringing a hand to her face to wipe the tear away. "I don't want Mommy to work. I don't get it." 

The man closed his eyes. This conversation was going nowhere fast, but that was no matter to him. He kept his tender and caring demeanor, but his mind was completely focused on something else. An intricate game of cards this was to him, a plan built solely on strategy and smarts. The both of which he obviously possessed the upper hand of.

But no one would have be able to tell. This was his specialty, a fact of which many had learned much too late. 

"Hey, kid," he spoke, which drew the girl's attention. "I think I know what could help."

Pazi was fully attentive now. "Help?" she repeated. "Help what?" 

"Well, help you understand," he said. "If no one else can help, then maybe I can."

Pazi thought over the offer. She had always been warned never to talk to strangers, but here she was, doing just that. This man was the only person that had tried to assist and console her, while everyone else only stared or went on their way. There were exceptions to rules, right? If anyone could be an exception, it was this employee. 

And sadly, that was a sound enough conclusion for a six year old. 

Pazi smiled again, and this one was sincere. "Okay," she said.

The man smiled back. "Alright then!" he spoke, raising himself from the checkered floor.

"Follow me." 

The girl got up from her haven and followed the employee to the opposite side of the room, toward a door with no sign upon it, no indication of what it led to whatsoever. But Pazi didn't mind it; she couldn't read anyway. She was just excited to finally be able to understand, and to hang out with her newfound friend. 

And the man was excited too, although it was for an entirely different reason. 

So he opened the door that shown a dimly lit enclosure beyond. He gestured for the girl to go first, to which she much obliged.

The yellow suited employee chuckled to himself, and closed the door behind him. 

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