A Futuristic Fiduciary Frozen Fanfiction by Jessica X
Characters © Diznay and all their lot. Original story elements and/or settings ©2014 to myself.NOTE: Rated T for the ElsAnna (icest). May progress past that at a later point, if I continue it on.
Something I might do more with, might not, depending on if I have further ideas and/or there's any interest. I was sorely tempted to call this fic "401k Elsa Is Suffering", but thought that would only get me a thundering round of jeers. Never let it be said I can't exercise a bit of restraint! (SHUT UP LAUGHING ALL OF YOU CAKE FIC FANS) Quick apology to those with a deeper understanding of all to do with business/stock market than I have if I've made any mistakes; I tried my best to do research, which only confirmed that I haven't the head for business!
Until we meet again,Jessex
~Chapter 1: Amalgamation~
"Miss Froiland, your ten o'clock is here."
Elsa sighed irritably, tapping a few more lights on the panel in front of her. The floating pixels above the projector on the corner of her desk realigned into a new pattern which portrayed none of the sensitive stock figures and financial records they had before, instead coalescing into the snow-capped evergreen that served as their company logo. As it gently began to rotate, she tapped a small light on another panel and said, "Send them in, Karamelli."
Swiping her square-rimmed glasses from her nose, she glared at them as she leaned back in her rigid executive chair. Optic surgery was an outpatient procedure these days. Why had she never considered it seriously? Laziness? Wariness of so-called "medical professionals"? No. She knew why, and it irritated her but it was necessary. No surgery. There was no telling what they might find, poking around inside her body.
"OLAF," she announced to the room at large. "Espresso."
"Coming right up, ma'am!" said the cheery male voice of the integrated software. A beverage dispenser behind her began humming. For the fourteenth time, she mentally noted to have the voice tweaked to sound more dignified.
As she distantly heard the sound of the outer-office doors opening, she replaced her glasses and slipped her feet back into the black heels nestled beneath her SmartDesk. Time to "be the business," as the motivational book she had published stated.
A soft knock at the door. After debating for a moment, she picked up a thin stack of hard copy memos and shuffled them, purely to look busy. "Enter."
The door swung open. "Um… is this Elsa Froiland's office? Am I in the right place?"
"It is," Elsa said without looking up, laying the pages in her outbox. Slow steps sounded across the floor. She cleared her throat, folded her hands in the middle of the desk, looked up - and nearly lost her semblance of professionalism.
The lithe beauty couldn't be any older than twenty, but her deep-green trendy business suit with its barely-not-a-mini-skirt helped conceal her youth. Two thin braids on either side of her head that tied in the back kept her red hair from swinging completely free. Her round apple-cheeks were bunched into a completely earnest smile as she shifted her small electronic valise from one hand to the other so she could extend her right in greeting.
"Anna Snowman," she introduced herself nervously.
Normally, Elsa would have remained indifferent throughout the meeting, hoping to keep her opponent on the defensive. Instead, she found her hand was already clasping Anna's, pumping it up and down. The light squeeze on her fingers made her smile slightly against her better judgement, but then she reclaimed her senses and sat back, gesturing to the spare seat. "Please."
Anna sat, perching her valise on her knees and opening it. A few seconds later, it began to hum. "Thanks for seeing me, I know this is so last minute, but I was really hoping to-"
"Miss Snowden, I'm a very busy woman," Elsa cut her off. "Can we please skip the apologies?"
"Snowman," Anna corrected her quietly. "As in Snowman Home Robotics? You know… 'Do you wanna build a Snowma-'"
"I'm familiar with your firm and its popular slogan," Elsa sighed tiredly. That reminded her of her espresso, now ready and quietly cooling in the dispenser. She swiveled away. "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"O-oh! I, um… juice, please."
Elsa nearly dropped the tiny mug, looking over her shoulder. "Did you ask me for juice?"
Still blinking in surprise at being asked, her cheeks took on a pink tinge as she whispered, "Um… a fruit-vegetable blend, if you have it? I, um, I don't process caffeine well."
Hiding a grin of disbelief, Elsa turned back to the machine and said, "OLAF; carrot-orange-pineapple juice."
"You got it, chief!" the computer voice chirruped.
"Wow," Anna giggled. "I like your AI."
"He's an idiot," Elsa sighed as she sipped at her espresso while watching the sunshine-hued substance fill the glass. "But he does the job flawlessly, so it wouldn't be cost-effective to retool him purely to make him less… perky. Much though I'd love to."
A slight warmth leached into the girl's voice as she said, "You call it a 'him'. That's sweet."
Pursing her lips, she retrieved the juice and passed it across the desk, which the girl took eagerly and sipped at as she spoke. "Now then, to business. You wanted to discuss the possible merger between Snowman and North Mountain Industries. As far as I'm aware, we're not hurting in the robotics department, so I'm wondering what your division might bring to the table, exactly."
"That's… well, I don't think you quite understand. I'm asking you not to go through with the merger."
"You're asking…" Elsa set her mug down and stared at the girl. "Wait, I'm sorry. Why are you here?"
"I, uh, just told you?"
"If you're not interested in pursuing a merger, then why are we wasting our time?"
"Because you are," Anna stated flatly, a suspicious look in her sparkling blue eyes. "Wh… I'm only here because I thought maybe, if I came in person, I could talk you out of it."
Elsa leaned forward on one elbow. "Listen, Mizz Snowden. I only agreed to this meeting out of curiosity. It wouldn't be prudent to pass up a possibly lucrative venture simply because it didn't seem to be profitable, but now you're telling me you don't even want it? I'm not much for games, so whatever you're playing, I am very disinterested."
"On your way, please. Karamelli can validate your parking."
The two little ginger eyebrows knitting above her nose was such a cute gesture that it almost made Elsa smile, but she suppressed it. Weakness during business dealings could not be allowed to show through. "Miss Froiland… I, um, I thought you were the CEO of this company, I assumed you would know about the offers."
"What offers?" she demanded sharply.
Gulping, Anna thumbed the touch screen, sending a few things dancing about her projection display. A popup on Elsa's asked for confirmation of data transfer from a previously unknown user. Debating for a moment, Elsa accepted.
Minutes passed as she took in what she was seeing. The milk and sugar she always added to her espresso began curdling in her stomach. "No…"
"So you… really didn't know about this?"
Elsa wished there was a way she could more gracefully declare that she had been completely unaware of this situation without making her sound inept, unfit to hold her position. There wasn't. "I did not."
"That 'Winter Consortium' has been buying up our stock from our shareholders for months. I only just found out a few days ago that all of its members sit on your executive board."
"They have a large enough share to buy it out from under you." She thumbed a few more things, scanned down rows of numbers and lists of names, but it only confirmed her fears instead of assuaging them. "It's a hostile takeover in the… most underhanded way."
"Miss Froiland," Anna began in a practiced, would-be professional voice if not for the nervousness tinging it, "Our company has been a thriving part of the city of Arendopolis ever since my father, Colin Arendelle, and my mother, Alicia Snowman, first took it public twenty years ago. They have built a strong and solid foundation, giving back to the community whenever possible, strengthening our economy… and we provide thousands of jobs to people who desperately need them. A merger would almost certainly-"
"Hush," Elsa whispered, but it still cut straight through Anna's speech and caused her to fall silent. "I'm… I have to think."
Minutes ticked by as Elsa studied the figures on her screen. It was unbelievable. No, it was unconscionable. And old Dick Weselton was chairman of that board, he had always been so kindly…
A quick search revealed things went far deeper. Not that she would be divulging this to her ten o'clock appointment, but there were several other pending buyouts that seemed particularly sudden, and not limited to robotics. Every industry was being targeted. Before long, this so-called Winter Consortium would have the entire city in its grip.
"I… don't know if I can stop it."
"Ma'am?" Anna asked hesitantly in a small voice.
"What? Sorry." But she when she glanced over at the girl briefly, almost purely to assure her that she hadn't gone randomly comatose, she was shocked to see wetness on her cheeks.
"This is my whole life, okay? All I have left is this company, I- with Mom and Dad gone, and my husband just left me for another woman, and it's- and I can't-"
Elsa gaped. No. Oh, no. This girl was about to start crying in the middle of her office. This was something she had never been prepared to deal with; none of her other investors or clients had cried. And goodness knows it had been literal years since she'd been close enough to any friend or lover to be exposed to that sort of thing. Pity mingled with discomfort as she watched this bizarre event take place, and she tried to think of something to do.
"Huh? I don't know that one, ma'am."
She'd never programmed him to retrieve tissues. Why would she have? She wasn't running a therapist's couch. Gritting her teeth, she spun and began rummaging through one of her drawers until she came up with a travel-sized sachet, which she ripped open unceremoniously and offered to her blubbering guest.
"Th-thank you," Anna hiccuped, blowing her nose. Then she took a few deep breaths, rolling back her emotions. "It's… I haven't been sleeping. I'm so sorry."
"It's okay," Elsa said numbly, then shook herself. "Now… I'm not sure what I can tell you at this point, other than that I am very sorry. This was nothing I was aware of; of course, I have given the board leeway to pursue lucrative ventures, but these sort of tactics… they're not what I've tried to practise here at North Mountain, I hope you know that."
Anna stared at her for a moment, then nodded slightly. "I believe you."
Elsa blinked. "You do? I wouldn't if I were in your seat."
"No, it's… you're not a bad person. I can tell."
A stirring filled Elsa's heart at that. She looked down at the partly-empty pack of tissues and felt heat in her own cheeks. It was probably the grandest act of generosity toward a fellow human she had personally done in a long while. "It's… you don't get much opportunity to be a good person in my line of work, Miss Snowman."
Anna nodded vaguely, blowing her nose again and dabbing at her eyes, trying not to force her mascara to run. Not that she needed any in the first place. "You said my name right that time."
"What? Oh." Elsa tried to shrug, but the motion came off jerky. "Sometimes it takes me a while to remember names."
"Sorry. I'm really sorry, I just… well." She cleared her throat. "Since you're the CEO, though, can't you, um, veto their proposal?"
"Indeed. This one will probably come across my desk in a few days in the guise of a normal buyout, and I will veto it, but… they'll remain shareholders. And regardless of acquisition of the company, they can start pulling their stock. You'll be nearly bankrupt by the end of the month."
Anna rubbed the end of her nose. "We had a bad quarter last year, and I was forced to sell off a lot of my personal stock. It's… there isn't much left of 'my' company that's truly mine."
Elsa considered that for a few moments. "I have a friend who could help us."
"Sven Kristofferson. He runs a transport company and he owes me a few favours. This would mean calling in most of them, but-" She glanced around the room, hair on the back of her neck prickling. "OLAF, sweep."
The machine began to hum to life. One of Anna's shapely eyebrows hiked upward. "You're cleaning your office now?"
"Shh." About thirty seconds passed with nothing but a transitioning hum. Then the lights began flickering to and fro, and a look of fear passed over the young entrepreneur's features. When everything settled down, Elsa whispered, "Okay, we're clear."
"Clear of what?!"
"Listening devices." She made a vague gesture that encompassed the whole room. "If this consortium my board has cooked up is really doing things like buying out businesses without my knowledge or approval, I wouldn't put it past them to plant a bug or two."
Anna's eyes were round as saucers, and despite their situation, Elsa felt herself smile slightly. "Y-you… no, that stuff doesn't really happen, does it? Only in holo-movies."
"I found one in another sweep." Ignoring the frightened squeak, she leaned in again. "If I asked Sven to intercept a few of those shares the company is bidding on… he could put them directly in my hands instead of the board's. I could then sell them back to you. At a profit, naturally."
"At a profit? But you said…" Anna's face fell. "No, it's not right for me to expect you to do this for free. I'm sorry, that wasn't fair."
"A small profit," Elsa amended ruefully. Why was she being so nice to this girl? Was it purely to save face because board members who were supposed to be keeping her in the loop were doing dealings like this behind her back? "A fair one, not an astronomically high one like those bastards are angling for. If I turn around and sell it to you and merely break even, I'll be mocked in every jet-setting circle from here to Beijing."
Anna began to tremble again, but she wasn't crying. "But what if… what if I can't raise the funds to buy the stock back? We're doing much better this year, but still not what you'd call 'flush'." Then she laughed. "And Hans got everything in the divorce. I'm sleeping on my office couch. I don't even have a home anymore; Snowman Robotics is my home."
This sob story couldn't be true. It was too fantastical, too bleak… but there didn't seem to be a dishonest bone in this young woman's curvy little body. "Come now, you could at least rent a hotel room."
"Hotel rooms don't come cheap!" Then she waved her hand back and forth. "B-but anyway, I… I dunno, I have some holdings in other companies I can cash in… my 401k… government bonds. Mother's old jewellery. We can make it happen, I'm sure."
"Good." Elsa felt more than regretful about pushing forward past this unpleasantness, but she was unsure she could handle another outburst of emotion from this overtaxed young head of a floundering business. "Then I'll, um, I'll give Sven a call tomorrow." When Anna's face crumpled again, she hastily said, "Today! I'll call him today."
Anna looked up blearily. "Y'know, I watched Mother run this business for so long, I… I thought I was ready, but when the cancer took her, it… was too early, and I mean, I know I was technically old enough to take the reins, b-but I don't know what the hell I'm doing, I mean, it's still all theory to me from business school, and I'm putting it into practice when I've barely graduated, and I… and how am I supposed to handle all this? How am I supposed to run something I can just barely understand?"
"Enough," Elsa grunted. "Feeling sorry for yourself won't teach you how to be a better businesswoman. Learn by doing." Anna nodded as she sighed. "You don't have anywhere to stay? Don't you have any friends?"
"No. Most of my friends were Hans's friends. When I said he got everything in the divorce, I meant them, too." She smiled blearily. "This is what my life has come to! Sleeping on a couch, until the consortium kicks me off that, too!"
"Oh, don't be stupid. You'll stay with me."
Elsa had been thumbing through the records on her display again when she said that, but then she felt her entire body go rigid when her brain caught up. What did she just say?
"Wh… what did you just say?" Seemed they both had the same reaction.
"I…" How could she back out of it now? There was no way to do so without sounding like a complete and total bitch. "Well, my suite has a guest room that hardly ever sees any use. I'll expect you to pay a negligible amount of rent, of course; I'm not running a flophouse."
"Live with you?" Anna said in a hushed voice. "But… oh God, I must sound so pathetic, I'm sorry, I- you don't have to take pity on me like that!"
"Have to keep an eye on you while we out-trick the tricksters, don't I?" Even to her own ears, this was far friendlier than Elsa was used to treating anyone. What was it about this girl?
Partly, it was that she was beautiful. Elsa couldn't deny that it was a factor; her lightly-freckled skin shone through even her heavy concealer, and her honest demeanor and effervescence was too cute. In all the time she spent swimming with the sharks on Wall Street, it was nice to find one innocent dolphin.
Also… she hated to let this possibility through into her conscious mind, but she knew it to be true. She hated living alone. Living with people was almost as maddening as living alone, so she had never made it a point to keep her romantic affiliations around for long. Perhaps it might be nice to simply have a roommate for once, especially since this was sure to be a temporary arrangement.
Even so… there was another something. One she couldn't put her finger on.
"You… I don't know if I can accept that," Anna was babbling, putting down the juice glass she had drained a moment before. "W-we barely know each other, and it's so generous- and I don't even know where it is! What if it's way on the other side of town, and it'll make my commute hell? What if-"
"It's one floor up," Elsa chuckled, feeling the warmth of her own smile and being stunned that it existed. "Think you can get all the way there from here?"
Anna thought furiously, standing up and pacing. "Well… okay, so it only took me a ten minute airway hop to get here from the office, but… geez, you can't really want me living with you! I'm a total slob, and I hog the covers, and I like loud music when nobody's around, and-"
"Wait, wait," Elsa laughed louder. "Why would I care about you hogging the covers when you'll have your own set of them to hog?!"
"O-oh, yeah," Anna muttered, then giggled at her own stupidity. "Well, you gotta understand, the last person I lived with was my ex-husband; he was always complaining about it."
"If we start sleeping together, I think the covers will be the last thing we're worried about," Elsa snorted as she pushed her chair back and stood, straightening her own pinstriped blue suit as she did so. Belatedly, her insinuation came back to her, but she knew if she barrelled ahead it wouldn't be problematic. "Er, shall I escort you upstairs to see if it's to your liking?"
Fumbling with her valise, Anna trailed after the CEO as they passed through the outer office. The burly man at the desk was instructed to hold all calls, and he nodded, deep chocolate eyes following Anna's every move.
"So," Elsa said as the elevator zipped them upstairs. "Do you… have references?"
"References? OH - for the rental agreement! How stupid, I can't believe I didn't think about it, I-"
"Shhh," Elsa snickered. "Stop apologising for everything, you'll give yourself a stroke. I was joking, of course. It's up to the tenant whether or not they set up a sub-tenant contract. What say we see where we are at the start of next month before we tie everything up with legality?"
The elevator doors swished open, but neither of them moved. "Yes?"
"I, uh…" Anna cleared her throat and muttered, "I really like your hair."
"Your hair," she said in an even softer voice. "It's such a soft gold-white, and a killer style, and it… man, I wish my hair looked like that. Ever since I walked into your office, I couldn't stop thinking about it, but there's no easy way to say that to somebody during a business meeting, is there?"
Again, she felt her face warming. "W-well, I… thank you, Miss Snowman."
"Anna." A thrill shot through her when she said the name. Its shape felt very natural in her mouth, as if she'd said it many times before.
The elevator door slid shut again. Giggling, Anna leaned forward and thumbed it open. "S-sorry."
"No, it's fine." Elsa self-consciously smoothed down a strand of her hair. "After you."
As Elsa followed Anna down the hallway, watching her plump rear filling out the back of her skirt as it sashayed from side to side with her steps, the feeling that she might be making the worst kind of mistake settled over her like a cloak of warning.
"Left," she whispered when they came to a branch. At the door, Elsa thumbed the printpad, and once it clicked, she said, "OLAF, record new print."
"Ready!" the machine piped up. "State print identity."
Taking her hint, Anna pressed her thumb to the plate and said her name.
"Welcome, Anna! Any friend of Elsie's is a friend of mine!"
She laughed again. "That's hilarious!"
"Yes," Elsa grumbled. "A riot. And if I ever catch you calling me 'Elsie,' I'll ensure you regret it; I can't get him to say it right no matter how much I try…"
The wide open, voluminous living room was sparsely decorated with chaise lounges and settees, all of them varying shades of white and off-white, with an enormous white skin rug in the center of the hardwood flooring. A flatscreen hung over a real fireplace, and art decorated the other walls. The outer wall was entirely made of glass, but Venetian blinds shaded them from the midday sun.
"It's imitation," she told Anna as she pushed the door shut behind her, catching her horrified look. "No polar bears were harmed in the making of my carpets."
"N-no, I- doesn't matter," she half-lied, embarrassed. Then she looked around again. "This is all so gorgeous… you don't really want to share it with me, do you?"
"No, but I don't mind sharing it," she corrected with a smirk. "You'll be through here."
Elsa's room led off the wall by the fireplace, being that it had one of its own that used the same flue. On its opposite side was the open kitchen with a bar and several stools, and past that two guest rooms and the main lavatory. They stopped at the first door, and Elsa turned the brass knob and opened it.
"Oh," Anna breathed as she crossed over the threshold, taking in the cozy beige-and-brown theme, the antique cherry-wood furniture. "I- oh, Elsa, it's so charming; I assumed it would be white like the living room, all sterile, but this is homey and warm…"
"You know, I don't recall saying you could use my given name…"
Anna spun, hands over mouth. "God, I- I'm sorry, Miss Froiland, I'm-"
"Kidding, kidding," Elsa chuckled, running her hand along the dresser. "This piece, the one that completes the set… it cost me quite a lot to track it down."
"You can't want me in here! I'll probably wreck the place!" Gulping, she placed a delicate finger on the knob of one bedpost. "One time, I managed to break the flatscreen with a ball of yarn. Hans didn't speak to me for the rest of the day, not one word!"
"With a ball of-" Elsa held up a hand to forestall the explanations. "We all have freak accidents. Believe me, I've had a fair few."
At that, the CEO felt an uncomfortable lurch in her stomach. No, don't say any more, she warned herself. "Oh, you know… not everyone can have perfect coordination every moment of the day." Clearing her throat, she said, "I don't cook, I order room service or takeout. Let me know well before dinnertime if you want any of what I'm having and get me the money for your portion; no poaching off my plate."
"What if I want to cook us dinner sometime?"
The uncomfortable lurch was of a completely different nature this time, one distinctly more giddy. "Y- you can cook, can you?"
Anna merely shrugged. "Um, n-not a whole lot of dishes, but there are four or five I mastered. Pancakes, and omelettes… oh, and French toast!"
"Those are all breakfast items," Elsa snorted.
Her pouty little lip was so adorably petulant… "So? You can have breakfast for dinner."
Debating for a moment, Elsa shrugged. "You buy the groceries. Until I'm sure of your culinary skill, I'm not throwing away money on something that might not be to my liking."
"Deal," Anna said, then grinned. "Oh, this is gonna be so much fun!"
Then her arms were around Elsa.
What?! a voice screamed inside her head as the warm, soft body pressed into her through the two layers of somewhat-rigid fabric. Even after it had deduced this was a friendly gesture common among those who had just agreed to be flatmates, she still felt her pulse thundering in her ears. Her hands had already gone where they shouldn't by then, however; slipping around Anna's waist instead of her back.
"Ooh," Anna whispered, and the shiver could be felt very easily. "Such a princely hug, Miss Froiland!"
"Y-you caught me off my guard," Elsa breathed, trying for a laugh and knowing it sounded weak.
Anna pulled back to look into her eyes. Elsa's heart began to race, but she doggedly kept her face impassive, only a small smile in place. "Okay, so I get that now, but… can I ask you something? It's probably gonna sound super weird."
"Why… why does this feel so easy? Like we're old friends?" She let out a tiny laugh, lowering her eyes to somewhere around the tall blonde's chin. "Boy, that's dumb."
"It isn't!" Elsa coughed, then raised a hand to Anna's shoulder. "And I don't know, either. But you're not imagining it; I feel quite comfortable here."
Heat began rushing into her face as she stared at the younger girl, and she did her best to stave it off, but she still knew it was going to be harder the longer they held each other. Meanwhile, Anna seemed to only be aware that their nearness wasn't as awkward as it should be for two people who had scarcely known each other an hour.
"Thank you," she breathed quietly. "For… being so good to me today. I kinda needed it. You'll never know how glad I am I met you!"
As they disengaged and Anna began wandering around the rest of the apartment, Elsa pressed a worried hand against her lips. And I hope you never figure out how glad I am to have met you, little Anna. Hope I never figure it out, either.
- To Be Continued -