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Peter breathes a sigh of relief when they step outside. After being underground for eight hours, the sky is a welcome sight. The door overlooks a car park, which has a clear view of boring grey Wivley.

He glances over to Markus, who is staring ahead with his eyebrows as far down as they’ll go. 

“Which one’s yours?” Peter asks, nodding towards the cars.

“The red one,” Markus replies, “We’re walking towards it.” (oh, duh)

“Cool,” Peter says. Markus gives him a look. 

(hey im trying to be nice)

They walk in silence for a bit longer. The sun’s started to set, casting a soft pink glow over the city. 

(quick peter think of something to talk about)

“Do you like cats?” Peter asks, a smile on his face.

(nailed it)

“Not particularly… why?” Markus replies suspiciously. He slows down and turns to face Peter, who shrugs.

“Dunno.”

Well, that didn’t work. Try something else.

“What’s your favourite colour?” Peter asks.

“Green,” Markus answers, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Have you finished asking questions now?”

“I guess.”

By now, they’ve reached Markus’ car. It’s shiny and red, and that’s about all Peter can say about it. Cars are among the many things he knows nothing about.

It takes Peter a few seconds to catch up to Markus, who is already halfway down the corridor (why does he walk so quickly? its not a race)

They continue their journey in silence. A few people pass them by, most of them avoiding eye contact. Suddenly, Peter catches a glimpse of Ripley’s weirdly gradiented hair and almost jumps out of his skin.

“What’s wrong,” Markus says, as though it was a statement rather than a question.

“I er, I got a fright,” Peter mumbles, trying to act calm and collected even though Someone Very Likely To Punch Him is just along the corridor. Markus doesn’t even respond, he just shakes his head. They take a left, away from Ripley (phew), and come to a set of stairs. 

Peter somewhat breathlessly reaches the canteen and opens the door. He peeks inside and sees Markus sitting all alone at a table, sipping a cup of coffee as usual, looking lonely and grumpy.

“Oh, hi,” Peter smiles, stepping through the doorway. He sits down at the bench across from Markus, who looks even grumpier somehow.

“Hello,” Markus mutters. 

Silence. It takes all of Peter’s energy to breathe normally and make it seem like every muscle in his body isn’t burning.

“I, er, appreciate… this…” Peter scratched the back of his neck and tried not to sound awkward. He failed.

“You’re welcome,” Markus nodded, looking equally uncomfortable. Oh this is going to be a mess. Peter mentally prepares himself for the driest conversation in history.

“How’s your coffee?”

Markus shakes his head. “Fine.”

Silence.

“When are we leaving?”

“We can leave now if you want.”

“I mean… yeah, sure, okay,” Peter shrugs and stands up. Markus downs the last of his coffee and leaves the mug on the table. 

Silence. 

The pair of them head towards the door, Peter purposefully skulking behind. Suddenly he regrets asking Markus for help, he could have just walked.

Wait, no, what’s he saying? This is going to be fine. Markus has been generous enough (for some bizarre reason) to help Peter out, so the least he could do is be friendly and un-awkward. 

He should probably get a wiggle on, if he doesn’t get to the canteen in time Markus will leave and then he’ll have to walk to the shopping centre instead. Ooh, maybe he can scrape together enough change to buy some sweets from one of the vending machines (they’re usually broken but it’s worth a shot). He hurries from a leisurely stroll to a slightly faster leisurely stroll, and after a while he begins to get a stitch in his side.

Peter starts to think about Markus, who exercises a lot (apparently), eats healthily (gross) and probably doesn’t get stitches when he speed-walks. If he worked anywhere else, Markus could be living a good, happy life. Too bad he works here, with all the other walking disasters, what a shame.

(More new posters, huh. Pretty.)

Immediately, Peter notices the vending machine. 

(food)

“Don’t bother, it’s broken,” Markus advises, already on the first step of the tall, tall flight of stairs. There’s only two ways in or out of HQ: these stairs or the elevator which is half an hour’s walk away. If there’s a fire they’ll all be toast (heh).

“Again?”

“Again.”

“But how do you know?” 

“I checked this morning.” 

“It might be fixed by now.”

“You can try if you want but don’t complain when your money gets eaten.”

With a grin, Peter fishes a few bronzes from his pocket and almost hops over to the vending machine. There’s plenty of choice, from cola to diet cola to lemonade to crisps. It’s like snack planet. Peter finally decides on a can of cola (cant go wrong) and puts two bronzes into the slot. They roll into the depths of the machine with a clunk… and nothing happens.

He waits a few seconds.

Nothing continues to happen.

Markus pointedly clears his throat.

“Let’s go,” he mutters, continuing up the stairs. Peter follows, trying not to look disappointed. 

zzzzzzz-ahWUHTEHFUh oh it’s just the alarm.

See, Peter knew he would be late and that Markus would be angry at him, so he set his alarm to go off at 6 o’clock. He’s proud of himself for being clever but at the same time he’s annoyed that he has to wake up. 

With a grunt, he stumbles onto his feet and grabs his phone off the table, turning the alarm off. Markus said he’d wait ten minutes, didn’t he? That’s plenty of time to get to the canteen, surely. 

Just before stepping out of the Big Technology Room, he checks the corridor for signs of Ripley. She doesn’t seem to be there, so he carefully sneaks out and closes the door gently behind him. Sneaky.