"(College AU) The vending machine close to an 8:30 am class just broke down, and Person A knows they won't be able to focus in class without eating something. How desperate will Person A act to get their sugary treat/breakfast? What do they do? (optional: Do their friend(s) jump in and help them?)"
And took it in uh... directions. This turned into a sort of humour thing I guess? With shipping thrown in. Guess who. Enjoy, tac!
Arkas nearly swore at the vending machine, but bit back his curses as other students filed past. Moments before he had arrived at the machine - that glorious life-giving, soul-filling, snack-laden god - a janitor had slapped a big fat ‘out of order’ sign on its window.
“C’mon buddy,” he said gently to the machine. “I need my snack. You can do it, man.”
The light didn’t miraculously come on, and the machine didn’t start buzzing again. Arkas frowned.
Staring at his own reflection in the glass, Arkas could see that he was suffering already for his lack of food. There were dark circles under his eyes and his hair was messy, on account of him waking late and rushing to class.
“Please. Just gimme my Skittles. I’ll repay you.” He wiggled his eyebrows at the machine faux-seductively. After a second of this, he had to laugh at himself. What was he doing?
The machine itself was a relic, having stood in the same spot since at least the 90s, dispensing snacks to the students at the college. As far as Arkas could remember, it had always been up and running - always, until this morning.
He never should have picked a class so early in the morning, but here he was. Deprived of sugar, caffeine, and energy, with a useless broken vending machine and a class in five minutes. He was pretty sure there was another machine across the other side of campus, but he probably wouldn’t make it. What if he collapsed on the way there? It was a risk Arkas couldn’t take.
“You alright there?”
Arkas jumped at the voice, turning to face the source of his voice. A classmate of his, Nebris, was leaning against the wall.
“Stupid dumb vending machine ruining my day,” Arkas grumbled. He gestured at the ‘out of order’ sign. “Now I’m going to be late for class.”
The hallways were mostly empty now, and Arkas knew his class would be starting now.
“Didn’t you have breakfast?”
Arkas shook his head, blushing. He was surprised that Nebris was talking to him - not that they’d never talked before, but for Nebris to go out of his way to talk to him was quite surprising.
To tell the truth, Arkas knew his embarrassment had more than a little to do with his attraction towards Nebris. He had crushes all the time, and Nebris had been one of the worst. He was infuriatingly cool, attractive, and fucking annoying. A casual rivalry had sprung up between them. Nebris would attempt to cheat off Arkas’ test if they sat close; Arkas would try to steal his pencil sharpener in return. They didn’t talk as much as they fought, their silent actions speaking volumes.
And there was another source of his embarrassment. The underlying feeling that right now, he was about to be tricked. The grin on Nebris’ face, his lazy tone - those didn’t help the feeling.
“There’s another vending machine across campus.” Nebris pointed out.
“I’ll be late for class!”
Nebris snorted. “You’re already late. Why not just skip? It’s what I’m doing.”
“Then why are you here!” Arkas protested.
“Something to do.”
Arkas squinted at him. It was utterly ludicrous to think that Nebris had sought Arkas out, specifically for the purpose of annoying him, just because he had nothing to do.
“Man, I thought you would have more interesting things to do than me.”
Nebris’ mouth curled into a cat’s smile as he pounced on the innuendo. “Heh. I assure you nothing is more interesting to me.”
Arkas giggled, then turned back, face falling, to the vending machine. “Anyway, even if I do skip class, I need food. I’m starving.”
“C’mon, let’s go to the other machine. Skip with me, it’ll be fun.”
Arkas bit his lip. “I dunno, man…”
A third voice spoke. “Okay, instead of goin’ t’ th’ other machine, why not stay here an’ help me?”
Arkas looked around. There was nobody in the hall, and it wasn’t a voice he recognised. “What?”
“In here. The’ vendin’ machine.”
Arkas jumped, and turned back to the machine. He squinted at it. “Are you hearing this, Nebris?”
“The creepy voice?”
Nebris came closer to the machine as Arkas cautiously lifted the ‘out of order’ sign. Behind it, all Arkas could see were the rows of drinks and snacks, dim in the broken light, until something flickered, fading into view.
Behind the glass was the face, the body, the features of a man around his age - yet ethereal and translucent, nearly devoid of colour. He was wearing a maroon cardigan over a plaid button-up shirt, baggy jeans, and had long hair tied back in a pony tail.
“What the fuck?” Nebris said.
“Sorry, sorry. I know this is weird but I’ve been trapped in here a while an’ I really need some help.”
“What are you?” Arkas said.
“I’m uh, a ghost. I was trapped in here like twenty years ago.”
Arkas examined the ghost’s face. He seemed serious enough - no hint of a joke in his eyes.
“Are you kidding me?” Nebris asked.
“I’m really not.” The ghost came closer to the glass, pressing his diaphanous hands to it. An icy film formed around the digits, yet, Arkas soon realised, the ghost could not simply phase through the solid surface.
“How did you get in there?” Arkas asked.
“I was uh. The vendin’ machine fell down. An’ it killed me.”
Nebris snickered. “That’s amazing. What’s your name?”
“You couldn’t get out?” Arkas added.
“I’m Pakratt. People used t’ call me that cause I’d carry all my stuff around in my backpack. And like I said, I’m trapped here. Since I was killed by this stupid thing, I’m bound t’ it. That’s why I need your help.”
“Help with what?” Arkas was growing excited. He’d never met a ghost, let alone a vending machine ghost, let alone a vending machine ghost from the nineties. This would be something he could brag about for years to come. Helping an actual, real, ghost.
“Gettin’ me outta here. And possibly back to life. See, if y’ destroy the vendin’ machine, I’ll be set free. Like a genie from a lamp.”
“Do you grant wishes?” Arkas asked hopefully.
“We should help him,” Nebris said in a stage-whisper. “He’s cute.”
“I heard that!” Pakratt said, turning as red as his pale skin would allow.
Arkas’ heart fell. Although he always knew Nebris was a flirt and would go for anyone and anything, he’d still had that small hope that Nebris might like him back. Knowing he’d prefer a ghost over Arkas was, well, discouraging. At the least.
“Help me anyway. No matter whether I-I’m, c-cute.” Pakratt said the last words as a mumble. “Listen. I need you t’ destroy this machine.”
“Easy,” Arkas said. “We’ll get some axes and smash it to bits.”
“Are you crazy?” Nebris said.
“We can’t do it here. We have to steal the machine. If someone sees us we’ll be in big trouble.”
“How are we going to steal this? It’s too heavy!”
Nebris lifted his arm and flexed his bicep. “I’m strong.”
Arkas let out a laugh mingled with a snort. “Uh-huh. Listen. Let’s look for a thing… a… one of those thingies with wheels.”
“Yeah!” He paused. “I hope nobody sees us, do you think we’d go to jail for stealing a vending machine…?”
“No, no, listen,” Nebris said. “It’s like you’ve never even stolen a vending machine before. We have to pretend we’re servicemen. We’re taking the machine away to fix it.”
“Someone will recognise us!”
“Just act confident. If you act like you’re doing something important, nobody will question you.”
Arkas frowned. “How do you know?”
“Arkas.” Nebris looked at him with a serious expression. “How else do you think I got this far in life?”
“I mean with everyone respecting and loving me.”
“I don’t think…” Arkas stopped. “Okay. Let’s just take the vending machine and get out of here.”
After finding a trolley with wheels, it was an easier task than Arkas expected to get the machine out of the building. The ghost, Pakratt, would complain if they jostled it too hard but other than that, they soon were out and headed towards their accommodation.
Along the way, they decided that they would take it to Nebris’ house. As far as he knew, his roommates were out, so they wouldn’t be caught. They squeezed the machine around the side of the house and into the small backyard.
“Okay. How should we do this?” Nebris stood, looking the machine up and down, frowning. “I don’t kno- hold on!”
“Oh?” Arkas leaned forward at his excitement, drawn in by the sparkle in his eye.
“My roommates play baseball. They’ll have bats lying around somewhere. Let’s find them!”
He showed Arkas the small storage space where the baseball bats were. Picking up their weapons, the two set out back to the vending machine. Though turned off, it still posed an imposing threat, standing tall with the sun glancing off the glass.
Pakratt floated behind the glare, looking even more washed out, like it was a place he didn’t belong. As they approached, Arkas swung his bat over his shoulder, a determined expression set on his face. Here was a chance for some well-deserved revenge against the vending machine for withholding his sugar fix that morning.
“So,” Nebris said, as he rhythmically thumped the bat into his hand, “Does this count as getting to first base with you, Arkas?”
Arkas giggled. “More like second.”
Nebris raised his eyebrow. “Okay. Okay. I’m down for that.”
“I’m jus’ gonna pretend I heard none o’ that!” Pak yelled from the machine. “Hurry up an’ free me.”
“Okay.” Nebris held out his bat. “Ready?”
“Ready.” Arkas raised his bat, and brought it down hard on the window, Pak drawing back sharply at the hit. Spiderweb-like fractures spread across the glass, but it did not shatter. Nebris turned to grin at him, the sunlight painting his face pale yellow.
“This feels good,” Arkas commented. “It’s fun!”
“My turn!” Nebris pushed him aside, facing down the vending machine. Making a ffffkrrrrshhzzzwooooom..woom..woooom.. noise with his mouth, he brought the bat down, denting the glass significantly. Behind the cracks, Pak’s ghostly face was scattered into thousands of pieces.
“You okay in there?” Nebris called. Pak nodded.
“Okay,” Arkas said. “Good. Wouldn’t want you to get hurt little ghosty… thing…” He raised his bat once again. “Now step aside. I want to do the lightsaber…”
“You’ll have to fight me.” Nebris furrowed his brow.
“Okay.” Arkas knocked his bat against Nebris’. “You’re on.”
“Guys.” Pak said. “Seriously.”
“Ffffkrrrrshhzzzwooooom..woom..woooom,” Arkas said. “Woom.”
“Woom?” Arkas mock-pouted, as Pak stared, unamused, from the machine.
“Jus’ get me outta this frickin’ thing, then you can have your sword fight.”
Nebris turned, and gasped. “It’s not a sword, Pakratt! It is a lightsaber!”
Arkas stared at him curiously. “Wasn’t Star Wars invented when you were alive?”
Pak sighed. “How old do ya think I am?”
“Uh?” Arkas looked the ghost up and down. “Old?”
“I was a college student in th’ nineties. Now, get me outta here.”
“Fine.” Arkas dropped his bat, and turned towards the machine with a grin. “It’s revenge time!” With all the power in his body, he plunged his hand cleanly through the cracked glass.
Adrenaline ringing through his body, Arkas reached for a packet of Skittles - right through Pak’s spectral form.
“Sorry! Sorry! Just grabbing a snack!” Arkas retracted his hand and stashed the packet inside his pants pocket. “Now, here.” He held out one hand for Pakratt, through the hole in the glass. “Wait. Hold on. You can’t--”
“No, no, I’m…” Pak trailed off, voice going soft as Arkas’ hand connected with his. Arkas shivered at the cold - but corporeal - skin.
“He lives!” Nebris exclaimed, rushing forward to inspect what was happening. He grasped Pak’s forearm and helped Arkas haul Pak through the opening. As he stepped out onto the grass his transformation became more pronounced. Solid, warm flesh replaced his ghostly form.
“Hey! You’re alive!” Arkas exclaimed.
“Yeah!” Pak looked down at his hands. “I guess you broke th’ curse or some such. Anyway, is there anythin’ I can do to thank you?”
“Ooh ooh! Me! Me!” Nebris waved his hand in the air.
“Can I have a kiss?” Nebris winked.
“Me too!” Arkas added.
Blood rushed to Pak’s face. “N-No! I hardly know you.”
“Okay,” Nebris said. “I’ll do the kissing.” Without hesitation he leaned towards Pak’s cheek.
Arkas wrinkled his face in indignation. “Not if I get there first!” He leaned towards Pak’s cheek, bending down slightly to reach.
Arkas let out a squeaky giggle as his face collided with Pak’s, and just as quickly pulled away. From Pak’s reaction, Nebris had also delivered his kiss.
“H-hey!” Pak ducked away from them, spluttering. “Really?!” Unsure how else to react, he kept his gaze focused on the ground.
“Sorry,” Nebris said. “But come on, we should show you around. A lot has changed since the nineties, you know.”
“Yeah!” Arkas said. “Come on. There’s lots of cool thing around here, outside the college too.”
“Okay,” Pak said, brushing hair out of his eyes. “I guess I will need guides. Show me round th’ place, then!”
“I’m still hungry though. There’s a really nice cafe around the corner. Let’s head there first,” Arkas replied.
“I haven’t had a bit t’ eat in like, decades.” Pak said.
Arkas giggled and took his hand.