A/N: Thank you so, so much for all the comments you guys leave! They're really inspiring! And thank you so, so much for those who voted for me on SKoW. And I'm glad you guys like Rosh so far, haha! And oh yeah, regarding the city names I mention in this chapter, they're not based on any real places. I wrote a part of this after I watched the Liverpool vs Chelsea game a while back, so if you follow the EPL, you might be familiar with the location names. Haha!

Excuse the mistakes. It's five in the morning right now. :D


QUINNTESSENTIAL

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE


Elliot quickly learned that buying a ticket at the last minute was much easier on television than it was in real life. He didn't know how the contestants in the Amazing Race were able to rush into the airport and buy tickets right out of the counter. He had been going from counter to counter for the past hour already, and it was either all tickets were sold out or the plane's gates were closing. After being rejected for the sixth time, Elliot trudged to the seats where he had left Rosh. His flat mate was fast asleep, his head tilted back and his mouth wide open while one hand was still holding onto their luggage. They had woken up early to get to their plane, but because it was cancelled, all the adrenaline had disappeared and the urge to sleep was slowly making its way back.

He plopped down beside his flat mate. Rosh stirred. "Woah, no, I don't have any shampoo in my bag – " When his eyes peeked open, he sat upright and processed his surroundings. He rubbed his eyes. "Oh, right."

Slowly, he turned toward Elliot and yawned. "So, any luck?"

Elliot shook his head. "Nope. Everything's sold out."

Rosh had an enlightened look in his eyes as he clapped his hands together. "I knew the Amazing Race was scripted. I always wondered how some people were able to buy tickets and some weren't. I think they buy the tickets in advance for those who they want to win – "

As much as Elliot wanted to join Rosh's conspiracy theory about the popular reality show, he couldn't find the energy to do so. He leaned back on his seat and rubbed his eyes. He was starting to feel sleepy, his eyelids starting to droop, but that didn't dampen the twisty bundle of nerves at the pit of his stomach. What the heck was he going to do at the wedding? He had no idea what he was planning, what he was going to do when – or if – he got there, but all he knew was that it felt like there was something tugging him to that wedding, and he was just running with it.

" – and the taxi drivers! I'm sure they make sure to hire the bad ones for the unpopular pair, because it's always so weird how some contestants get super nice taxi drivers who can speak English, while some don't and always drive them to the wrong – " Rosh stopped and quickly realized Elliot hadn't been paying attention to his grand conspiracy for the last five minutes. Sighing, he clapped a hand over Elliot's shoulder. "Well, at least you tried, yeah? You never know, maybe you'll meet up with… what's his name again?"

Elliot pinched the bridge of his nose. "Quinn."

"Yeah, Quinn, maybe you'll cross paths or something or you find yourself having a job in a city and he happens to be there at the same time…" Rosh paused for the longest time until he pressed his lips together and dropped his hand back to his side. "Okay, I really suck at consoling people, so I'm just saying anything coming out of my mouth right now. Is it okay if I stop now?"

Elliot shrugged. "Sure." Elliot was horrible at consoling people too, and since he concluded that Rosh was practically his cosmic twin, he hadn't expected him to be any good either. But at least he had tried. He patted Rosh's shoulder to let him know he was grateful as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. "Okay, if this doesn't work, it's a sign that I shouldn't go the wedding and we'll get a cab back home."

"What are you gonna do?"

"I'm going to call the airlines. If no one's gonna talk to me here, I'm sure someone's gonna have to talk to me on the phone."

Thirty minutes later, Elliot once again realized that some things were definitely much easier said than done. After the ten minute mark and no one had picked up the phone, Rosh had left to buy some breakfast. Elliot was still at his seat, clasping his phone, ready to snap it shut and head back home. But every time he told himself, "Just three more rings and I give up", he'd wait for another three rings, then another, then another. He drummed his fingers on his knee as he was transferred from one person to another, getting sick of the classical music that played on the line – he was pretty sure he had heard Beethoven's Für Elise about four times now – as he waited for the person on the other end to pick up. He swallowed, taking it as a sign that things weren't going to work out, and he was pulling his phone from his ear to hang up – when a woman finally answered.

"Burgess Airlines, Ticket and Booking, how can I help you?"

Elliot blinked. He had already decided to hang up and go home, yet fate decided it was time to give him his sign. He swallowed, suddenly feeling unprepared despite how long he had been waiting. "Err, hi, I'm just wondering if you have two tickets available for the next flight to Carragher."

"Can I have your name, sir?"

"Elliot Foster."

Elliot could hear the woman on the other end of the phone typing away on her keyboard, but all of a sudden, the clacking sound on the keys stopped. For a moment, Elliot wondered if the people in the airport had alerted the main office about him. Maybe they were getting annoyed with all his bugging and put him on some blacklist or something. He quickly realized that was a pretty crazy idea and he must have gotten the thought from listening to too many of Rosh's conspiracy theories. He cleared his throat. "Um… yes? Is there something wrong?"

"Elliot… Foster?"

"Yeah?"

For nearly five seconds, there was no response from the other end – until the women squealed so loudly, Elliot had to pull his phone away from his ear so he wouldn't go deaf. "OH MY GOD, IT'S YOU! Hey, hey, can't you recognize my voice?"

Elliot couldn't remember if he knew anyone working in an airline company. "Err – "

"It's me, Maddie! Remember? In the supermarket? I cried on you – "

The clogs in Elliot's head quickly set themselves in motion when she mentioned her name. His eyes widened as his mouth fell slightly. "MADDIE! Oh, holy crap, what the – yeah, yeah, I remember you!"

She laughed. "Yeah, I figured you wouldn't know any other girl who cried on you in a supermarket."

That was kind of true. It wasn't everyday a random girl sobbed on you during your five minute grocery run. "Right, right," Elliot mused, laughing a bit as he remembered what happened and at the utter coincidence that they somehow met up this way. Life definitely had its surprises. "So hey, how are you? How are things with… you know, your co-worker?"

"Oh, Elliot, that was over a year ago." Elliot blinked as he realized that, yeah, it had been over a year ago. Time moved so fast. Returning to their conversation, he noticed that Maddie had an excited tone in her voice, like she had something she really, really wanted to share. "About fifty pounds of chocolate and ice cream later, I've moved on, we're friends, but now I've got a boyfriend – a straight one!"

Elliot grinned. "And I'm sure you wouldn't have him any other way."

"What about you? Anything new? God, who would have thought we'd end up talking together like this, huh?" She paused and chuckled. "Can I ask about your hot friend?"

"Oh," Elliot said, caught off guard. "Um, well, we're not flat mates anymore. Err, yeah, I had another job, and he went back to school, so… yeah."

"Awww, that sucks," she said, the disappointment so obvious in her voice. "You know, I didn't get the chance to tell you this that time, but you should have seen the look on his face when I kissed you! My God, he was so jealous!"

Maddie had only seen Quinn once – for about five seconds at most – yet she had already known that Quinn had feelings for him? Elliot shook his head, but before he could curse himself for being so oblivious for the 12907th time, he quickly moved onto the task at hand. "Err, so he's part of the reason why I'm calling you."

It took Elliot less than two minutes to give Maddie a brief explanation of what was going on, and when he finished, she let out another yell so loud that the old lady sitting beside Elliot could hear it. He quickly apologized when she gave him a look.

"Oh my God, that is am-a-a-a-zing," she whispered excitedly. "So the fate of your relationship is now in my hands? HOLY CRAP!"

'Your relationship.'

The words made the twisty bundle of nerves at the bottom of Elliot's stomach grow a lot bigger. Was that what he was looking for with this whole thing? He clutched his phone tightly. "Erm… yeah."

He heard the clacking of the keyboard on the other end of the line. "Oh man, Elliot, I'm sorry, the next flight to Carragher is next week."

"Oh." Despite the fact Elliot had been so ready to give up just a couple of minutes ago, he didn't think he'd feel so disappointed. He swallowed. "Oh, well, thanks a lot – "

"But we do have one flight that leaves in an hour that has a two hour stopover at Anelka, which connects to Reina, and connects to Carragher."

Just by her description, Elliot could already tell that flight would be horribly tiring. "How much – "

"And the only tickets available are for Business class."

Elliot's throat grew dry as he imagined the price for two tickets. "Okay, so there's no way I'll be able to afford – "

"But that's why you've got me."

He lost her. "What…?"

Elliot could imagine the wide smile on Maddie's face as she explained. She lowered her voice. "If anyone asks, just say there was an inventory error in the system."

His eyes widened. "Maddie, you don't need to – "

"Elliot, your relationship with this Quinn is in my hands. I'm not taking this responsibility lightly!" she said loudly, like she couldn't believe he was actually going to say no to the tickets. "And I'm sure you know I'm a hard core hopeless romantic, so the thought of you rushing to a wedding to see him is giving me immense chills of fan girl excitement."

Elliot couldn't believe his luck. "Maddie, you have no idea – "

"Don't worry about it. Just give me your email so I can send you the tickets."

After giving her his information, Elliot clasped his phone tightly. His hands were shaking with nervousness, excitement, and disbelief. "Maddie, thank you so – "

She laughed. "Like I said, don't worry about it." She typed away on her keyboard. "Oh, but one last thing…"

"Yeah?"

Maddie cleared her throat. "Next time you fly, make sure to fly Burgess Airlines!"


Twelve hours, two stopovers, eight complementary glasses of champagne, and two full course meals later, Rosh and Elliot finally landed in Carragher, surprisingly calm and relaxed despite their long flight. They guessed that's how most people felt after flying Business class. But when Rosh hailed a taxi and they hauled their things into the trunk, the bundles of nerves Elliot had tried so hard to calm with champagne found themselves back at the pit of his stomach.

"So where to?" Rosh asked, a wide smile plastered on his face as he sat back and looked out the window. He was still in a good mood after chatting up one of the pretty flight attendants. That was also one thing they noticed – all the flight attendants in Economy were old, grumpy ladies who glared at you when you asked for an extra blanket or a glass of water, but all the flight attendants in Business and First class looked like models. The injustice of it all.

Elliot pulled the invitation out of its envelope. "Well, it's still the lunch rehearsal today, so…" He looked up at the taxi. "Hotel Lampard, please."

During the taxi ride to the hotel, Rosh replayed his conversation with Melissa – that was the pretty flight attendant's name – to Elliot, from the hand motions to the way she batted her eyelashes and laughed at his jokes. He looked ridiculous as he raised his voice to mimic Melissa's voice, sounding more constipated than feminine, but it was enough to calm Elliot's nerves, albeit momentarily. But by the time the taxi pulled into the hotel's driveway, a sudden thought occurred to Elliot – what if Quinn wasn't even attending the wedding?

He swallowed as he grabbed his things from the trunk. Rosh paid the driver while Elliot fell silent as he waited for him. He hadn't called Valerie or Allison to ask if Quinn was even coming, so what if everything – was all for nothing? He followed Rosh into the lobby and despite all the effort he had put into getting there, he couldn't deny that a part of him would still feel quite relieved if Quinn wasn't coming to the wedding. He would be able to put off his bundle of nervous and that inevitable moment of seeing him… for another time. He didn't know when, but at least it would be some other time.

"So which ballroom?"

Elliot looked up to find Rosh waving a hand in front of his face. He blinked. "Oh, sorry, sorry."

Rosh clucked his tongue as he shook his head. He gave Elliot a quick once over. "I knew you didn't have enough champagne. Melissa was offering to give us the entire bottle, you know – "

Before Rosh could go on about Melissa some more, Elliot flipped open the card. "Essien Ballroom."

When they found the ballroom and pushed open the large doors, they were greeted by the buzz of pre-wedding commotion. Hotel staff members were laying the white table covers over the circular tables and arranging the forks, spoons, and silver lined plates. Florists were over by one corner, holding up different kinds of flowers, looking like they were discussing a color scheme with an older woman that looked like Valerie's mother. There were people by the elevated stage and dance floor, setting up wires and cables for the sound system. Someone was standing on the stage, holding onto the mic, doing a sound check ("Sound check, testing, one, two, three"). One guy was sitting on top of a high step ladder, holding a large disco ball as he hung it up on the ceiling. The room was filled with busy adults, except for one circular table near Elliot and Rosh that was filled with kids that ranged from the ages four to twelve, playing with the glasses and cutlery already set on the table.

In the middle of all the commotion was Valerie, talking with someone that looked like a wedding planner, at the same time choosing what kind of sashes and flowers they could hang on the walls with someone else, and trying out different samples of desserts – and generally looking very, very stressed.

Elliot and Rosh glanced at each other, understanding passing between them. Rosh set a hand on Elliot's shoulder. "Tread cautiously," he warned.

Elliot nodded. With that, he slowly made his way to Valerie like a warrior approaching a beast. As he approached her, he noticed that her dark hair was now at the middle of her back, she lost a bit of weight – wedding stress? – but she was still as pretty as she was before. Elliot had always found Valerie very pretty, even more than Allison. He remembered he was pretty nervous the first time he saw her. When he was a foot away from her, he swallowed and raised a hand to tap her on the shoulder.

"No, I think it's best if we – " She turned around. "Yes, what is – "

A second passed as she stared at Elliot.

Elliot gave a small wave. "Hello?"

Valerie's eyes widened. "What are you doing here?"

Before Elliot could explain, Valerie grabbed onto the collar of his shirt – with strength he never knew she had – and pulled him back to the entrance where Rosh was. When she finally let go of him, she folded her arms over her chest. "Elliot, why are you here, you – YOU DIDN'T EVEN RSVP."

Elliot winced. "Um, well…"

"Oh my God, Elliot," Valerie continued, running a hand through her long, dark hair. "I sent your invitation earlier than anyone else because I know you'd forget or something would come up – "

Elliot took the time to look back and glare at Rosh, who also winced and offered him an apologetic look as he raised the peace sign with his hand.

" – And you don't RSVP, and I told myself, okay, he's probably really busy, so I moved on, and now, you come here, without RSVP-ing, and – " She stopped and looked over his shoulder at Rosh. Rosh was about to say hello when she glared at him, making him tuck his hand back behind him like a meek puppy tucking back his tail. "You bring a plus one!"

Well, the invitation did say I could bring a plus one, Elliot thought cheekily. He he knew it was a very, very serious situation, but he had to keep himself from laughing because it was also very funny. One thing he had always admired about Valerie when they had worked together was that she had always been coolheaded during stressing situations, like the time when the chef accidently cut off his finger, when a random child thought the kitchens was the bathroom, when one of the other waitresses mistook the salt for sugar, etc. She had always remained calm and patient – the complete opposite of how she was now. Elliot guessed that weddings had a way of turning even the most patient women into Bridezillas. He had to bite his lip to keep himself from laughing.

Elliot decided that the best way to calm her down was to grovel.

He dropped to his knees. "I'm really, really, really sorry," he said, keeping his head down and clasping his hands together over his head. "Things came up, but I really, really wanted to go, but I had this thing in Dubai, but then it got cancelled because it rained, and then I had to call all these people to get here, and – "

Valerie held her hands up. "Okay, okay, I get it."

Elliot looked up and lowered his hands before grabbing her legs so he could hug her. He pressed his face against her stomach. "Thank you so, so, much, Valerie," he said, not letting her go when she tried to pull away. He didn't think he'd be so happy to see her, despite her Bridezilla self. "And this is really late, but congratulations on the wedding, I'm really, really, really happy for you."

When she finally managed to pull herself away from Elliot she chuckled, traces of the old, calm Valerie coming back. "Knowing you, you probably don't even have a gift, huh?"

It was like a gong had rung between Elliot's ears. He didn't want to look at her, so he kept his face buried in her shirt. "Oh, err…"

Valerie rolled her eyes and laughed. "I knew it." Slowly, she turned her eyes back to Rosh and stepped forward to shake his hand. "Sorry, I'm Valerie, and you are…?"

"Rosh," he said, shaking her hand. "His flat mate." He paused before quickly adding, "And since I know about his history, let me just say I really am just his flat mate."

Elliot glared at Rosh while Valerie laughed. "Well, seeing that you two didn't RSVP, you both are going to have to book your own room."

"That's no problem," Elliot said, standing up and picking up one of his bags from the floor so they could head to the front desk. "We'll go there right now – "

He was turning to leave when Valerie grabbed his collar once more. "No, Rosh can get your room. You owe me. You're messing up my seating arrangement."

Elliot glanced at Rosh, and his flat mate nodded. But before he left, he leaned in close to Elliot. "Holy hell, she's gorgeous," he whispered, looking back at Valerie before giving Elliot his thumbs up.

"She's getting married in two days," Elliot reminded him, in case Rosh had forgotten.

Rosh shook his head, muttering, "The injustice of it all," as he left the ballroom to book their room. Elliot returned to Valerie, who fortunately, didn't seem to have heard Rosh.

"You don't have to fix your seating arrangement. Rosh and I can sit on the floor."

"Very funny." Valerie folded her arms over her chest as she looked at Elliot, an amused quirk in her lips. "I need you to do something for me."

That's how Elliot found himself five minutes later, sitting at the table where all the kids were, holding a one year old baby that was slobbering over his shirt. Valerie had put him in charge to watch over them and make sure they weren't going to break any of the glasses or ruin any of the decorations. The good thing was as soon as he sat down, all the kids in the table had stopped playing around with the glasses and forks and spoons. But now they were pestering him with questions and subsequently making him question his direction in life.

"Who are you?"

"How do you know our Aunt Valerie?"

"You write? Like, stories and comics?"

"Eww, you write about news? But that's boring. Why can't you write stories? Like Harry Potter?"

"You haven't read Harry Potter yet? Why? You're crazy!"

"Avada Kedavra!"

One particular kid with an afro asked, "You got any candy on you?"

Already bored with him, most of the children went back to what they were doing. But after finding out that he hadn't read any Harry Potter book yet, two girls with their thick, dark hair in pigtails took it upon themselves to give him a brief summary of all seven books.

"Basically, there's this boy, called Harry Potter, who lived – "

"Not because he can't die, because he can, but he didn't die when he was a baby – "

"Basically, he has powers – "

"Not superman powers like superman, but magic – "

"And he can talk to snakes – "

"He killed a big snake one time – "

"And he rides a broomstick so he can play this sport called Quidditch – "

"And he also killed the guy who tried to kill him when he was a baby."

Elliot stared at them, waiting for them to go on, but it seems like that was the end of their summary because they were staring at him too, waiting for him to approve their summarizing skills. His eyes widened. "Oh, hey, thanks!" he said, trying to smile widely as the two girls looked proud of themselves. "Now I don't need to read any of the books – "

At that same time, the baby decided it was the best time to vomit all over him.

A collective "Eeeeewwww" echoed throughout the entire table as bits of baby vomit trickled down Elliot's shirt. His jaw fell as he stared down at the chunks of food on his pants before looking up at the baby, which was looking back at him with an innocent, wide eyed look on its face. It burped.

The boy who had asked for candy pinched his nose. "Dude, you smell."

Elliot controlled himself from saying any expletives since he was surrounded by kids, and he silently stood up, bits of baby vomit dropping onto the floor, carrying the baby in one arm as his free hand reached for one of the napkins so he could wipe its mouth. "I love children, I love children, I love children," he told himself over and over again. He moved to leave the ballroom, pushing the door open with his shoulder and nearly knocking into Rosh, who was walking back to the ballroom, but this time with a vase of flowers in his arms.

Elliot stared at him. "What happened to you?"

Rosh stared back at him. "The florists were asking for help, so me and this guy are helping them carry the flowers inside." He paused as he stared at the guilty baby and the bits of carrot stuck on Elliot's shirt. "What happened to you?"

But Elliot couldn't answer, because beside Rosh, holding a large vase of deep red geraniums, staring at him with familiar, wide green eyes – was Quinn.

And the baby decided it would be the perfect time to vomit all over Elliot again.

The injustice of it all.


A/N: Anyway, if you can't remember Maddie – that's okay, I had to read back to remember her too – she was in Chapter 10. Isn't it nice bringing back old characters? Makes me feel like I planned things in advance, even though I really didn't. And if you think things worked out too perfectly for Elliot with her and the airplane tickets, you know what, it's fiction, can't things work out once in a while? HAHA! But as you just read, he isn't as lucky later on... and yes, I'm aware this was slightly filler-ish, but at least we have You Know Who again! Not Voldemort - Quinn! :P

Since I'm in France right now, why not have the letter in French?

A la bouteille de lait,

Bien que ne sois pas si bonne que ça en français et même si ma voiture est tombée en panne d'essence à cause de la pénurie de carburant, ça ne m'empêchera pas de prendre ma dose quotidienne de calcium! Vive la France - pardon, le lait!

Ton amie francophone déficiente en calcium,
Your name.

Man, you guys are getting multilingual! HAHA! Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment?
And no, despite my Harry Potter quips, I haven't seen the movie yet. In fact, the last movie I saw was the second one. I've seen bits of the others on HBO, but I've never completed them. How sad. :(

And oh yeah... cliffhanger? :D