A/N – This chapter's QUITE a bit longer than the rest have been, so take plenty of breaks XD I considered splitting it in two, but it just wouldn't flow. I thought "Hey, my lovely readers can handle it!"
Don't worry, this is definitely the last...here goes!
VIII. Claustrophobic Confessions
There was a mad scramble to get over to the intercom. During this moment of sheer panic, the already broken potted plant was trampled, Elena lost a shoe, and Rude copped another fist to the face, once again knocking his sunglasses flying – and this time, blackening his other eye.
"YES! WE'RE HERE!" Tseng almost screamed, slamming down his fist onto the button next to the speaker. "Hello? HELLO! Oh please, for the love of all things holy, please answer me!"
The Turks waited, still panting from the struggle, however; they received no answer. Tseng looked frantic. He hit the button again.
"We're in an ELEVATOR!" he said, feeling the mysterious voice might need some more information. "Between the 49th and 50th floors! We've been trapped here for ages! Please! Help us!"
Still, the Turks heard nothing as seconds of agonizing silence ticked by.
"Why aren't they replying?" Elena demanded, breathlessly.
Tseng pressed the button again with lacking energy.
"If anyone is there, anyone at all…" he pleaded. "Please, please answer me…"
When yet again the voice did not reply, all four Turks began to wonder if they had imagined it in the first place.
"I don't suppose," said Tseng pessimistically, "a 'mass hallucination' could have been possible?"
"Maybe?" Reno offered, wandering away from the intercom. "Unless this lift is haunted, or something,"
Tseng – who hadn't the heart to try again – rested his head against the control panel, looking crushed.
"Someone definitely spoke," said Elena, stamping her foot resolutely. "We couldn't all have imagined it! I'm sure of it! They said 'Hello' and asked if anyone was there!"
"Vague," said Rude, replacing his sunglasses again. "Could have been to anyone…not necessarily us."
Elena wasn't listening to Rude, or any sort of reasoning. "The guards may have finished their party!" she chattered nervously to herself. "That message was probably just to let us know they were on their way, I bet. That must be it…"
As she trailed off, Reno smirked. "Or maybe they're just wondering where their stripper's gotten to?"
He turned to Tseng, who was still slumped over the intercom. "Try using your sultry voice, boss,"
Reno shrugged innocently. "Hey, you might get a response!"
"They – they must know we're here, right?" asked Elena.
Rude sighed and shook his head.
"…right?" Elena repeated, weakly.
"I don't wanna rain on your parade…" Reno said to her. "But…if they were all so pissed earlier on that they either thought Tseng was a woman, or worse still, didn't care as long as he got naked, then I'd say the security guards don't really have a clue what's going on,"
Tseng raised his head and turned around to glower at him. "Would you please drop that?"
"The stripper thing,"
Reno struggled to hide his smile.
"Well, I have faith!" said Elena, fretfully twisting her fingers together. "I'm not giving up, and I'm certainly not going to resort to being as depressing as you two!"
She pointed menacingly at Reno and Rude.
"Hey, I want out of here just as much as you," retorted Reno. "There's some left-over takeaway in my refrigerator at home, calling my name…"
The thought of leftover takeaway was too much for Reno; his eyes glazed over and he fell into a daze, muttering.
"Well: all we can do now is wait and see." said Elena. "Oh, I hope they aren't too long,"
"…don't hold your breath," muttered Rude.
Elena ignored him. She glanced around at the trail of destruction they had left, her hands on her hips.
"If we're going to be rescued," she said, decisively. "Then I think we should tidy the place up a bit,"
The phrase 'tidy up' snapped Reno out of his momentary trance.
"Tidy up? Elena…" he said, watching her tending to the broken potted plant. "You're such a…a…woman!"
"Well," said Elena, airily, as she picked up broken pieces of pottery. "I don't know about you, but I'd like to leave this place in a dignified manner. Right, Sir?"
Tseng didn't answer: he had begun to slowly and rhythmically bang his head on the wall in utter boredom and frustration.
"Sir?" she asked, testily.
"To be honest, Elena," sighed Tseng, between the heavy thuds of his forehead meeting with the wall, "I think 'dignified' went out the window the moment we stepped in here,"
Not wanting her boss to turn suicidal again (for Tseng's hand had snaked its way up to the noose around his neck), Elena returned her focus to the potted plant.
"We need some glue, or something," she said, slotting the broken pieces back into place. "Has anyone got any?"
Rude checked his pockets. After a moment or two, he took out a small roll of masking tape and offered it to Elena.
"Jeez Rude, is there anything you don't carry around in your pockets?" Reno inquired, "Dunno why I even bothered asking you for a paperclip to pick the hatch lock – you probably have the actual key in there somewhere!"
"…like to be prepared," said Rude shortly, as Elena tore off several pieces of tape and began patching up the plant.
"There we go!" she said gleefully, wrapping the last strip of masking tape around the pot. The fern now looked shabbier and more wilted than ever, but Elena's makeshift restoration had done the trick in fixing the cracks.
"It needs a name," decided Reno, looking fondly at the plant, "Rude, you're a creative kinda guy, you think of one,"
Rude contemplated the potted plant for a moment.
"…Mr Fern," he said, in a deadpan voice.
Reno raised an eyebrow. "You kidding? That's way too formal."
"What about…Felix?" Elena piped up.
Reno mulled this over for a few seconds. "I like it!" he concluded. "Felix the Fern…"
Tseng suddenly began to chuckle, startling the other three Turks.
"This is ludicrous," he said, shaking his head. "Utter, utter ludicrous!"
Reno knelt down. "Don't worry, Felix," Reno told the wilting plant reassuringly, "He's laughing with you, not at you,"
"Why THIS elevator, with THESE people?" Tseng groaned, gesturing vaguely to Reno, Rude and Elena. "I think, at this stage, I'd rather be alone in the fiery mako pits of the Northern crater than stuck in here -"
"Think he's cracked, yo," Reno whispered to Elena, Rude and Felix.
"I've cracked?" Tseng cried incredulously, his voice rising to an alarmingly high pitch. "You think I've cracked? You three…are talking…to a plant! And you think I've cracked? Oh no, oh no, no, no – I'm perfectly sane! I'm going to get through this unscathed, unharmed, and when those doors open I'm going to skip happily through them like I've never been better!"
Tseng was looking less and less like the suave and professional leader that he usually was. It was clear that being in such a confined space with his three employees for such a length of time had finally broken through his cool exterior.
The other Turks regarded him a little worriedly as he began pacing like a caged animal.
"It's all a matter of keeping calm and finding a distraction,"
Reno grinned manically. "More party games?"
"What about Truth or dare?"
Tseng mouthed wordlessly, suppressing an outburst at this suggestion. "Truth…or dare? And how are we supposed to play that in here of all places?"
"Hey, I bet there's plenty of….er…daring things we can do in here, yo," said Reno weakly, yet looking unconvinced.
Tseng looked at him sarcastically. "Oh, sure," he said. "Like: 'Rude! I daaaaare you to prank call Midgar Pizza Palace again!' Or 'Elena, I daaaare you to press the button for Floor 13!' As much as I'd like to pass the time, I think I'd rather go back to ramming my head into the wall."
Elena looked fretful.
"Oh, Sir, let's at least give it a go. The 'Truth' part of it, anyway, it sounds harmless enough!" said Elena, sitting down. A dreamy look suddenly washed over her face. "It could be a good chance to help us get to know each other a little better…share some secrets…and things we've had bottled up…"
"What, like 'workplace crushes'?" asked Reno pointedly (which caused Elena's eyes to flicker towards Tseng), as he and Rude joined the little circle. "Could be interesting. I bet you all have loads of deep, dark secrets to spill. Felix, you start,"
Tseng rolled his eyes and tutted.
"Oh for goodness' sake – are you expecting him to answer?" He hesitated for a moment, realising what he'd said. "It," he corrected himself, furiously, "I mean it. Not he. It's a fern, for crying out loud, it doesn't have a gender."
"Go easy on him, boss, he's had a hard time in here," said Reno sympathetically, which only resulted in Tseng letting out a faint sob. "Come on, I'm just itching to know more about my fellow Turks. I bet at least someone in here still sleeps with a teddy bear, or cries at cheap, romantic films over chocolate-"
Rude gave a sudden and very pronounced cough. Reno rounded on him.
"That supposed to mean something, pal?"
As the corners of Rude's mouth twitched into a small smile, he simply said: "Loveless,"
Reno gaped, then, realising he was doing so, shut his mouth and struggled to look innocently curious.
"What about Loveless?"
"…The night Shinra personnel were given free tickets. We went along because the pub was closed. In the second act-"
Reno looked fleetingly alarmed.
"- Ok shut up Rude -"
"- when the lovers were saying goodbye at sunset -"
"- I don't wanna play this game anymore, yo -"
"- you were crying,"
The ringing silence that followed was interrupted by Reno's attempt at a casual laugh.
"Funny, Rude, you old comedian, you!" he said feebly, dealing Rude a friendly punch in the arm. "But the thing is, that isn't true, see, because uh, I wasn't even there, for that scene, yo…I was uh, out at the candy bar -"
Although Reno had proven in the past to be quite a decent liar, this particular instance wasn't doing him any justice.
"Aw, Reno!" Elena crooned, much to Reno's embarrassment. "You cried? You big softie!"
Colour had crept its way into Reno's cheeks.
"I – no I didn't." he stammered.
"You did," Rude continued. "You were trying to hide it – you sunk down in your seat so we couldn't see. Kept wiping your eyes."
Tseng had calmed down a little, and now looked quite bemused. "Is that right, Reno?"
"For your information," said Reno evenly. "I had some kind of allergy to the smoke machine, thankyou very much. My eyes kept watering,"
Elena gave a warm smile. "It's nothing to be ashamed of, Reno," she said. "I think it's lovely that you can show your emotions. I didn't know you were so sensitive,"
This only agitated Reno even further.
"I hate you Rude," he hissed, balling his fists.
Rude looked unconcerned, and slightly amused. "…That's just the hunger talking," he concluded.
"Well," said Reno boldly, peering sideways at his bald colleague with vengeful gusto. "Since you've been so honest, pal, I might just have to return the favour and tell everyone about your little secret, too,"
"What little secret?" asked Rude, flatly.
"Don't give me that look; you know perfectly well what I'm talking about."
Rude clearly didn't.
"Rude is a cross dresser – no, wait!" (Elena was emitting disgusted squeaks at Reno's announcement) "Hear me out, this is legit!"
Rude – proving it was possibly to change his facial expression – looked quite bewildered by this sudden, confronting accusation.
"– I actually found a curly wig in his cupboard, and a pair of ladies high heels, and a frilly dress with way too many frills, it was scary, yo –"
"Oh really, Reno!" Elena exploded. "I think it's bad enough that you admit to sneaking around in other people's cupboards, let alone making up stories about what you found in them!"
"You think I'm lying? Ask him!" Reno pointed wildly at Rude. "I saw them with my own eyes! Rude is more twisted than he lets on!"
Rude was frowning and looking unsettled. He tried to speak but to no avail, which resulted in Reno grinning triumphantly.
"Go on Rude, answer the question! Do you or do you not own a pair of high heels?"
"You SEE! He admits it!
"They aren't really mine."
"Oh sure, that's what they all say!"
"They're my mother's."
"They all say that, too!"
"She can't wear them anymore…" said Rude, and he shifted uncomfortably before adding: "Not with her artificial leg."
Reno bit his lip.
"Just shut up, Reno, before you even start, just shut up," Tseng drawled. "Rude, I am sorry for Reno's manic accusations-"
"What about the wig?" Reno enquired suddenly. "I suppose you expect us to believe that's hers too?"
"She – hasn't got as much hair…as she used to have. Genetic…disorder,"
"So she's a bald, toothless, legless cripple with a dicky heart and a penchant for frilly dresses? Hoo boy, Rude – OW!"
Rude had threateningly grabbed Reno by his ponytail.
"Maybe I should tell everyone about the rotten elixir," he warned.
"Do and die, Rude," cried Reno as he tried to wrench free. "If that's the way you wanna play, I'll just have to spill the whole story about 'Mr Choccy'-"
"Oh, I would, pal!"
Tseng and Elena were looking completely baffled as to what Reno and Rude were arguing about.
"Will you two stop it? You're both being very immature!" Elena shouted. "Anyway, at least neither of you got drunk and danced around in your underwear at the New Years Eve company party-"
She gasped and clapped her hands to her mouth, wide-eyed. Obviously she hadn't meant to let the last sentence slip.
Reno and Rude froze. Tseng blinked.
"What?" Reno asked. "Someone actually did that? Why don't I remember?"
Elena was blushing deeply, trying to avoid everyone's gaze.
"You and Rude had both passed out on the bar by that time, as – as far as I can recall," she stuttered. "Anyway, it's such a silly little thing, it isn't important,"
"I can't remember anything of the sort either," commented Tseng, frowning. "My memory of the whole evening is a bit fuzzy…enlighten us, Elena."
Elena looked more like she wanted to get out of the lift than ever. She made a few indescribable noises before giving in to the three sets of eyes all fixed expectantly on her.
"I'd only just joined the Turks," she said, with effort. "So I was sitting by myself, not drinking. Later in the night…things started to get…wild,"
"Go on, Elena,"
"Must I, Sir?"
Tseng nodded. Elena glanced around at the other Turks with a doom-laden expression, before continuing on.
"W-well, Sir…you and Palmer…well, you must have had a little too much…to drink, that is. Not that there's anything wrong, with that, of course…in most circumstances."
At this point, Tseng – looking purely mortified as he realised what Elena was getting at – put his head in his hands.
"Someone turned the music up and well…both of you…uh…I don't really want to say, but – but you were clearly in a very happy mood and…well…"
"What, Elena?" Reno asked slowly.
Elena looked to be having some sort of internal battle, trying her best to hold in the punch line of her story.
"Just say it!" Reno urged.
"Dropped-your-pants-and-danced-half-naked-on-a-table!" Elena blurted out.
Reno promptly doubled up in hysterical laughter. Even Rude chuckled.
Elena gasped, unable to believe what she'd just revealed. "Oh, Sir!" she cried. "Please, please don't be mad at me! I swear I haven't told anyone!"
Tseng did not surface – too humiliated to look at any of them, he kept his head bowed and his face covered by his hands.
"Why did no one tell me this?" he eventually asked, sounding muffled.
Elena looked beside herself.
"Well Sir, to be frank, I was trying to erase it from my mind!"
Tseng groaned through his hands. Elena desperately tried to comfort him. "Oh goodness, I'm so sorry, Sir!" she cried. "But – but no one else knows! At least…I don't think…"
"What about Palmer?" was the reply, and by his tone of voice, it sounded like Tseng was dreading the answer.
"I don't think so, Sir. I haven't heard him say anything since it…well, since it…happened."
For Reno, this was, by far the most amusing thing he'd heard for a long time. Elena glared at him contemptuously as he continued laughing.
"Did you hear that, Felix?" Reno howled, wiping the tears from his eyes. "Oh I wish I'd been sober enough to have witnessed this! Then again, Palmer in his underwear…that's some bad imagery there, yo,"
"How do you think I felt?" spluttered Elena.
"Depends who you had the better view of!"
"It's not funny, Reno!"
Tseng finally raised his head from his hands. He looked slightly sick.
"None of you are going to speak a single word of this to anyone," he breathed, then added in a mortified, trembling whisper, "Especially not Palmer!"
Reno collapsed sideways as his laughter redoubled, to which Tseng looked far from happy about.
"Yes boss," said Rude obediently.
"Your secret is safe with us, Sir," said Elena, giving him a dutiful salute. Tseng flinched.
"Please Elena. Could we not refer to it as a 'secret'? It makes the whole event sound so…crude,"
Reno gasped for breath. "Yeah, well, with all due respect, boss…dancing in your knickers with the fattest lard-ball in the company is just-"
"Yes, thankyou, Reno!" Tseng overrode him, "I don't need to be reminded!"
"Boy am I glad I'm not you," Reno choked, which was only salt to the wound for Tseng. "Its allright, I won't tell, I promise," he added, when he noticed the deathly glare his boss was giving him.
"I – I'm very, very sorry, Sir," Elena added, just in case she hadn't gotten the message across the first few times.
"What's revealed in the elevator, stays in the elevator," Reno chimed in, as he calmed down. "Like Rude's weird wardrobe contents,"
"Shut up," said Rude, then added, "cry baby,"
Reno bristled. "Allergies, Rude! Allergies!"
"No one's asked me if I have any confessions to make," said Elena, suddenly.
Neither Tseng, Reno nor Rude spoke.
Elena took a deep breath.
"I actually have something very interesting to say. Something I've been keeping to myself ever since I joined the Turks…"
The blonde rookie was not the sort to house dirty secrets. She was, in fact, sickeningly clean cut. However, the remaining Turks were not overly interested in the build-up she was making, assuming her 'dirty secret' was probably something along the lines of wearing the same pair of socks two days in a row.
"This may come as a shock," said Elena, dramatically, "But I, Elena…have feelings…for one of you. And I think it's high time I told you the truth. I think I should come out and say it to your face, instead of keeping my affection a secret,"
Elena didn't seem to be aware that her so called 'affection' was one of the most gossiped about topics in the upper floors of the Shinra building, and her 'secret crush' was probably not as secret as she thought it was.
Reno smirked, knowing full well what was coming. Rude raised his eyebrows, wondering how this news would go down. Tseng wasn't even listening, and was still looking humiliated from the company party story.
Elena plucked up the last of her courage, and she opened her mouth to finally reveal her heart's desire...
However, she never got the chance.
Just as she went to pour out her heart, the elevator gave a heavy jolt and the lights flickered out.
"What the - ?"
"What's going on?"
"Shit! No one panic! Felix, are you ok?"
"Shh! Be quiet, all of you…do you feel that?"
The Turks fell silent as the lights came back on again. A juddering, rumbling had begun, and the same grinding screech that had halted the elevator in the first place sounded again from somewhere above them.
"Y'know, if this suddenly drops 50 floors, we're doomed, yo,"
"Oh be quiet, Reno!"
With another clunk, the elevator finally, after being jammed for a good few hours, started moving again.
Four bewildered, disbelieving Turks looked around at one another as the lift slowly travelled downwards.
"We're moving," said Elena, in a barely audible voice. "We're actually…moving…"
"More hallucinations," said Reno, doubtfully. "Right, Felix?"
"This is no hallucination, Reno," said Tseng, unable to hide the smile creeping across his face. He stood up, and the other Turks followed suit.
The lift stopped neatly at Floor 49, and the doors slid open with the same soothing 'Ping' as when they had closed.
They were free. For the Turks, elevator hell was finally over.
One by one, they left the lift, in quite a different fashion to what they had entered in.
Elena was first. She staggered out (only wearing one shoe, for some reason), gulping back tears of happiness, hands manically grasping her messy blonde hair as she was consumed by waves of emotion.
Tseng tore off his makeshift noose. He proceeded to make good of his earlier passing comment, and – abandoning what was left of his pride – threw himself face down onto the marble floor and kissed it thankfully.
Reno was the next to exit, looking more dishevelled than usual and with Felix the ragged, and half dead potted plant tucked under his arm. Bruised, battered, and faint from hunger, the only thing on Reno's mind at that moment was whether or not there was a vending machine in sight.
Last was Rude, who hobbled out with two black eyes, an ash covered jacket and a slight limp from when Reno had landed on him during their attempt to escape through the hatch.
"Free!" croaked Elena, as Tseng got to his feet (finishing with the floor for the moment). "Oh, Sir, we're free!"
She flung her arms around her boss.
Tseng was too overjoyed at that moment to form any words, though it was also due to Elena crushing his lungs that he was having trouble speaking. Caught in the moment, he gratefully hugged her back, looking thoroughly relieved to be out.
Rude brushed himself off a bit, then looked to Reno. "You probably should leave Felix in the lift,"
"You kidding, Rude?" Reno exclaimed, hugging the plant closely to his chest. "After all we've been through? Screw Shinra, I'm taking him home!"
As they recovered from the initial shock of freedom, the Turks noticed that quite a party had assembled on the Floor 49 landing, and were all watching them in total puzzlement.
The group consisted mainly of security guards, the majority of which looked drunk. A few of them were still wearing party hats. One particular guard had even passed out, and was sprawled on the floor towards the back of the group. To the left was someone else: a gangly blonde teen with a small collection of facial zits, wearing a red and blue uniform, and a cap (from which underneath his rather large ears protruded). His shirt bore the "Midgar Pizza Palace" logo, and below that there was a nametag reading "Larry". He was holding a greasy pizza box, looking a little out of place and uncomfortable.
However, by far the most interesting member of the little crowd was revealed when two security guards moved aside to let him through. President Rufus Shinra himself stood there, wearing a maroon crushed velvet dressing gown and a supremely unimpressed expression on his face. He also had a slight case of bed hair, and anyone who knew Rufus, knew that above all else, he did not like to be disturbed from his sleep.
The term 'Oh, shit,' ran simultaneously through all four Turks' minds.
"This is it?" Rufus asked coolly, as the Turks hastily saluted him. "The big panic that got me out of bed was all because of…you four?"
Tseng cleared his throat and tried to look dignified. "Mr President, Sir," he began, "We were on our way out, when the elevator jammed. For what reason, I can't be certain, but – we found ourselves trapped and have been there for quite some time,"
Rufus did not look particularly interested. "I see," he said shortly.
"Larry?" Reno suddenly exclaimed, noticing the Pizza boy. "What are you doing here?"
Larry held up his hand defensively. "Dude, I'm just trying to find out who ordered this pizza! We got a phone call for an extra pepperoni, no mushroom, right? Some of the message, uh, didn't make a whole lot of sense, but we traced it back to this building…"
"That was us!" said Reno, looking eagerly at the box that Larry held. "Well, we weren't trying to order, we were trying to get out, but – damn, that smells good. How much do I owe you Larry? I've only got 27 gil here somewhere…"
"Not now, Reno," said Tseng quietly, as Reno ferreted around in his pockets for his stash of money. "Mr President, I can't tell you how sorry I am for this inconvenience,"
Rufus went to reply but Larry – having no respect for any authority, let alone the President – carried on with his own tale.
"So like, I got here, and it sounded like there was a party happening," Larry continued on in his scratchy adolescent voice, "So I thought 'Cool, I bet that's where the order came from' – because you know, people at parties order pizza, and stuff. So like I tried there. But I asked and no one there said they had even ordered a pizza! They had ordered a stripper, but were still waiting. So, like…"
"Fascinating," drawled Rufus, looking at Larry and the grease dripping from the pizza box in disgust. "Normally an incident like this would not be reason enough for me to intervene, but I was already up anyway, due to an unusual phone call I received. I found myself unable to sleep after that, as I was kept awake by the sound of unauthorised goings-on a few floors below. Apparently, my elite guards chose, by their own will, to take some time away from their duties to have a party instead."
The guards looked guilt-stricken (the ones that were still considerably drunk just grinned stupidly).
"I decided to venture down to investigate, but found it odd that one of the elevators wasn't working. I brought it up with security when I interrupted their little get together. Seeing as the building had been left unguarded for a good deal of the night-" (the guards flinched) "- anything could have happened. At first I suspected intruders. I ordered the more sober of the guards to try the intercom, in order to reach the broken elevator, but there were some technical difficulties…"
"Sir, the intercom was in perfect working order earlier in the night," Tseng said. "We tried to make contact, but we…couldn't seem to get the correct message across,"
Reno snorted, as if dying to make reference back to the stripper saga.
"Indeed," said Rufus lightly, "Between then, and the time I arrived, it seems that someone carelessly spilt some sort of alcoholic beverage all over the control panel, rendering the intercom nearly useless from the security department's end. Damaging Shinra property and equipment is an offence, as I'm sure you are aware, Tseng, and so the culprit has been dealt with accordingly,"
"Dealt with, Sir?"
Considering the damage they themselves had caused that night, the Turks instantly shifted to block the President's view into the lift behind them.
"We did hear snippets of what sounded like a distress call, though," Rufus added. "It was hard to understand, but nevertheless, I decided there would be no harm in sending a maintenance team up to investigate the situation,"
He surveyed the Turks through narrowed eyes, taking in their rather ragged appearances. "Lucky I did."
"We can't thank you enough, Mr President, Sir!" Elena gushed, dabbing at her eyes.
Rufus Shinra was not familiar with emotion, and couldn't seem to fathom why Elena was crying. "You owe it all to the phone call I received," he said briskly. "If it hadn't woken me up in the first place, I wouldn't have known about all this-" (he gestured to the guards and Larry) "-and you would all still be trapped, I imagine."
The very thought caused Tseng to shudder.
"Sir, if you don't mind me asking," he started, "Who exactly was it that rang you so late? I wouldn't mind thanking them profusely,"
Rufus Shinra thought for a moment, and then shook his head.
"I'm not entirely sure. It was a wrong number. Some batty old woman waiting at the train station for her son, who was supposed to pick her up…"
Rufus chuckled coldly to himself, as Reno, Elena and Tseng slowly turned to look at Rude.
"She told me his name and everything, the daft old coot," the President continued. "I was, however, half asleep at the time, so I can't remember…I do recall it starting with 'R', though. How she wound up with my number, I'll never know. I must see about having it changed in the morning…"
"Sir, I have to leave," said Rude abruptly, saluting Tseng then taking off at high speed down a corridor.
"Dismissed!" called Tseng as Rude hared off.
"Fancy that, yo," chuckled Reno. "Rude's decrepit mother saves the day…"
Rufus looked puzzled. "What?"
"Nothing, Mr President,"
"Well, you'll excuse me if I don't hang around to hear your own enthralling take on tonight's events," Rufus replied, pushing his hair out of his face. "To be honest, I do not care. I do, however, hope that no one else interrupts me tonight, or there will be hell to pay."
"Goodnight, Sir," said Tseng, as Rufus took his leave, and the guards dispersed. Larry was left, still holding the pizza, looking lost. He turned to Reno and handed it over.
"Dude, take it – no charge. I just wanna get out of here!"
Larry left Reno holding the oily pizza box. A look of total content and happiness spreading across the red head's features.
"It doesn't get much better than this, Felix," he stated.
A security guard with a rainbow party hat on stepped forward.
"Hey, er, the maintenance team say the elevator is fully operational now. If you wanna take it down to the bottom floor, you can."
Tseng took a moment to hold back the rush of profanities and insults that this suggestion provoked. He looked around at his employees – Elena with her frazzled blonde hair, still mopping tears from her eyes…Reno looking scruffier than ever, clutching the potted plant under his arm, a blissful expression on his face as he shoved a piece if pizza into his mouth. And the thought of Rude racing off to meet his mother, sporting various injuries and a slightly singed jacket.
Instead, Tseng simply smiled.
"Thankyou. But I think we'll take the stairs," he said, as he reached into his jacket pocket, "...mint, anyone?"
A/N – I just want to extend a thankyou to ALL of you who have taken the time to read this fic over the last few months! You're the best, thankyou all so very much. You've been incredibly encouraging.
This ain't the last you've seen of me! I love seeing the Turks getting into sticky situations, and have had another idea brewing, while I've been writing this one. So, I may well be getting started on that soon…in the New Year, at least, after I've had a break.
It's been fun. Adios amigos...have a good Christmas, and for the love of god, avoid all elevators over the silly season!
20th December – if anyone happens to notice, I have majorly edited this last chapter, spiffing it up a bit, giving Rufus more depth, etc! I wasn't happy originally with how rushed some parts were, so hopefully its better now. Thankyou, lol. I'm done now.