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11 November 2010 @ 09:52 pm
Somewhere Over The Moon (11/?) -- Wicked/RENT  
Fandom: Wicked / RENT
Rating: PG-13 (whole series)
Warnings: See chapter one
Pairings: Elphaba/Glinda, Boq/Nessarose, Crope/Tibbett, Fiyero/female!Shell
Disclaimer: I do not own Wicked or RENT.

[ chapter 1 ] [chapter 10 ]


“I just don’t get it,” said Nessarose. “Is there something wrong with me?”

“No, Nessie, there’s nothing wrong with you,” said Elphaba, clutching her sister’s hand as she knelt beside her.

“It’s Boq that’s got the problem,” said Glinda. She stood behind Elphaba, one hand on the green woman’s shoulder. “It took him months to ask me out.”

“Maybe he doesn’t like me,” Nessa said quietly.

“Nonsense!” said Glinda. “He likes you as much as he ever liked me.”

Nessa expected Elphaba to comment on that, but she didn’t. “He does like you, Nessa,” Elphaba said, apparently ignoring Glinda’s comment altogether. “He’s just shy – that’s all.”

Nessarose huffed and folded her arms across her chest. “We’ve known each other for a month and a half,” she said. “If he liked me, he would have said something by now.”

“Not necessarily,” said Glinda. “Like I said, it took him ten months to ask me out, and we were living together!”

This time, Elphaba turned to look up at Glinda, irritated. “Do you really have to keep turning the conversation back to you?” she demanded.

Glinda put her hands on her hips. “I’m not talking about me,” she argued. “I’m talking about Boq.”

“I don’t think that telling Nessa how much Boq liked you is going to help anything,” said Elphaba, rising to her full height so that she towered over Glinda.

But Glinda was not intimidated by this, as far as Nessa could see. Stretching herself to her full height, Glinda said, “I’m trying to be encouraging!”

Elphaba started to argue back, but Nessarose quickly interrupted. She knew all too well how these conversations went, and she was not in the mood to deal with an argument right now, especially when it indirectly involved her. “Elphaba, stop it!” She shouted to make herself heard. Elphaba stopped mid-sentence and both women turned back to Nessa. “This isn’t helping,” Nessa told him. “Just stop fighting, please. I can’t take any more of this.”

She began to wheel herself away, frustrated. As expected, Elphaba was there in an instant. “Nessie, I’m sorry,” she said, suddenly switching back to her protective sister mode. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Nessa said as Elphaba took her hand again. “I just don’t like it when you fight.”

Glinda and Elphaba exchanged looks. “We’re sorry, Nessa,” said Glinda. “We don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”

Nessa thought of telling her that it wasn’t her own discomfort that made her hate their fights, but she decided not to. She didn’t like the fact that her sister and her girlfriend fought all the time, but nothing she could say could change who they were. As long as Elphaba was Elphaba and Glinda was Glinda, there would be conflict.

“It’s okay,” Nessa finally settled on saying. Elphaba looked relieved at Nessa’s words. Honestly, Elphaba let Nessarose have so much power over her mood and actions. It had pleased Nessa as a child, but now it was rather annoying.

“So what are we going to do about Boq?” Glinda asked, turning the conversation back to its original topic.

“Maybe I could talk to him,” Elphaba suggested. “If all he needs is a little encouragement, maybe I can give it to him.”

Nessa looked horrified. “Oh, Elphaba, don’t,” she said quickly. “Please don’t do that. I want him to ask me on his own.”

“I think Elphaba’s right, Nessa,” said Glinda. “All she’ll do is encouragerize him a little.”

“I don’t want Elphaba to encourage him,” Nessa protested. “If he can’t find the courage to ask, then… then I don’t want him to ask at all!”

Well, that wasn’t completely true. She did want Boq to ask, whether he was acting alone or under the influence of encouragement; she just didn’t want to be embarrassed. If Elphaba or Glinda did the encouraging instead of her, what would that say about her own courage? No, if anyone was going to talk to Boq, it would be her… and she wasn’t so sure she could do that.

“Alright,” said Elphaba. “I won’t say anything to him.”

“Thank you,” said Nessa, temporarily changing her mind on how she felt about the effect she had on Elphaba. Sometimes it could be quite useful.

Have you ever been backed into a corner, trapped by a bunch of people all staring at you, and the walls seem to be getting smaller at the same time? It’s not a very good analogy, I realize – I’ve gotten significantly worse at coming up with analogies since the Tango: Galinda incident – but that’s where I am… right now.

It’s the day before Valentine’s Day. In case you weren’t aware, it’s a holiday the Wizard came up with – hence the strange name and the fact that it’s mostly celebrated in the Emerald City. According to the story, back wherever the Wizard came from, it was holiday to celebrate love and lovers. I used like the idea alright, especially when I had a girlfriend. Now, however, I’m not so sure… especially because I’m pretty sure I’m falling for Nessa, but I haven’t had the guts to ask her out yet.

Of course, Fiyero and Crope won’t let the subject drop. To make matters worse, Shell and Tibbett are in on it now, too. Tibbett’s not so bad, usually, but Shell’s almost worse than Fiyero or Crope – which it saying a lot. Maybe it’s partly because she’s Nessa’s sister.

Just get me out of here. Please.

“So, Boq, when are you going to ask out Nessa?” Shell asked off-handedly. For once, she and Fiyero were not in her apartment. Boq suspected it had something to do with Crope and Tibbett’s presence there too. Fiyero and Shell were cuddled up on the couch, and Tibbett sat next to them. Crope, meanwhile, had reclaimed his favorite chair. Boq had been cleaning up in the kitchen area, effectively ignoring the ongoing conversation between his four friends. That is, until Shell spoke up.

“What?” Boq asked, too shock to really answer. He wasn’t sure he had even heard her correctly.

Instantly, all eyes were on him. Shell partially extracted herself from Fiyero’s grasp so she could sit up and look at Boq. “I said, when are you planning on asking my sister out?” she repeated.

Boq cursed whatever higher power had determined that he would be a Munchkin. At the moment, he felt even smaller than usual. It didn’t help that all of his closest friends’ attention was entirely focused on him. He wondered whether he was actually shrinking under their gate, or whether it was all in his head. He gulped. “I, uh, hadn’t naturally, well, decided anything… yet,” she stammered.

“Well, what are you waiting for, boy?” asked Crope, laughing a little. “An invitation?”

“No, I -”

“Not everyone’s gonna be as patient as Glinda,” said Fiyero. “Hell, I wouldn’t be as Glinda. Ten months is way too long to wait, my friend.”

“Sweetie, I think that cup’s clean now,” said Tibbett.

Boq looked down at his hands and realized that he had been nervously scrubbing this one cup for the last few minutes. His cheeks turned red and he hastily sat the cup down on the nearby counter.

“Look,” he said, summoning up enough courage as he could muster, “I’m not afraid to ask her. I’m just waiting for the right time.”

“That’s what you said about Glinda,” Fiyero commented.

“And the ‘right time’ was ten months later,” Crope added.

“Would you please stop bringing up Glinda?” Boq asked. “Glinda was Glinda – she was too… good for a Munchkin like me to ask out.”

“And Nessa isn’t good?” Shell asked, raising an eyebrow.

Boq’s face turned red as he realized his blunder. “No… that’s not what I meant…” he stammered. “Of course Nessa is good, it’s just… she’s well, different.” He sounded like an idiot, and he knew it.

“Is that supposed to be a comment on my sister’s disability?” Shell asked. She was probably only acting offended to throw Boq off. It was working. “You know, we have a lot of ‘differences’ in our family, and I don’t take kindly to that tone you’re using about them.”

“I wasn’t saying that!” Boq argued back, trying to redeem himself. “I just meant…” He stopped and groaned in frustration. Why couldn’t he get this out? Why wouldn’t they believe him? “I really like Nessa, and I don’t want to ruin things by asking too soon.”

“You’ll ruin things even more if you ask too late,” said Crope. “Look what happened with Glinda. Maybe if you’d asked her out sooner, she wouldn’t have been so quick to run off with Elphaba.”

Boq wanted to throw something. Before he realized what was happening, the cup was back in his hand and was flying across the room, smashing into tiny pieces against the wall. Suddenly, all joking and teasing ceased, and concern (or was it fear?) filled his friends’ eyes. Boq didn’t care; he was seething. How dare they keep bringing up Glinda? Why did they feel the need to give voice to the same doubts that had been going through his mind when Glinda had left him? Why were they making a point of antagonizing him like this? He wouldn’t stand for it anymore.

“I don’t want to hear any more about Glinda,” he said. His voice was quiet, but deadly. “Not one more word, do you understand? That ship has sailed, and the next one will arrive when I decide it’s the right time. Got it?”

No one responded. They were too stunned by Boq’s uncharacteristic outburst to say a word.

“I’m going to get a drink,” Boq said after a minute or two of silence. He began to move toward the door.


Boq stopped, but didn’t turn, at the sound of Crope’s voice. “What?”

“We’ll see you at the Life later, right?”

Boq paused. “Sure,” he said finally. Then, still angry, he walked out the door and shut it roughly behind him.

“Miss Thropp, you have another call.”

Elphaba groaned and rolled her eyes. Not again, she thought. The phone had been ringing off the hook all morning, and she hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. Her neck ached because she had fallen asleep at her desk, and she had a headache from the coffee she had had to drink to stay awake during her meeting early this morning. Her presentation on Animal rights had not gone nearly as well as she would have liked, and to top it all off, she hadn’t eaten a thing all day, and she was starving. She was not in the mood to take any more phone calls right now.

But her strong work ethic won out in the end, despite her body’s protests. “Who is it?” she called out to the other room, where Norra, her new assistant – they never stayed very long – sat at her desk.

“She says her name is Glinda Arduenna, Miss Thropp,” Norra called back. “She claims to be your girlfriend. Should I tell her you’re busy?”

“No, Norra, put her through,” said Elphaba. Part of her was eager to hear her lover’s voice, but the other part was too tired and grumpy to do anything at all, let alone talk to a no-doubt giddy and bouncy blonde. Still, she didn’t think it was a good idea to subject Norra to Glinda – or was it really the other way around? “And Norra,” Elphaba added quickly, cutting off that particular train of thought, “don’t call me Miss Thropp. Call me Elphaba – or Miss Elphaba, if you must – but don’t use my last name.”

“Of course… Miss Elphaba,” said Norra, in a voice that was polite, but not at all genuine.

Elphaba didn’t have time to dwell on this. Momentarily, her own phone rang, and she picked it up. “Hey, honeybear, what’s up?”

“I just wanted to see how you were,” came Glinda’s voice from the other end. “You didn’t seem so good this morning. How’s your day been?”

“Not good,” Elphaba answered honestly. “Thank the Unnamed God it’s almost over.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Elphie,” said Glinda. “I should have insisted you come to bed instead of letting you fall asleep at that desk of yours last night.”

“It wasn’t your fault. I had lots of work to do.”

“That’s no excuse,” Glinda insisted. “What kind of woman lets her girlfriend fall asleep at her desk?”

“The kind that falls asleep first,” Elphaba answered.

There was a short pause before Glinda continued. “Anyway, pookie, Jill’s invited me to go shopping with her this afternoon, and I told her I would. Is that alright? I promise I won’t go over my allotted spending money for the month.”

Elphaba felt the muscles in her stomach tighten. Glinda had certainly been spending a lot of time with Jill lately. Elphaba was about to say so, but she remembered how angry Glinda got when she got suspicious, and she was in no mood to make Glinda angry, so she held her tongue. It’s just a shopping trip, she reminded herself. You wouldn’t want to go anyway.

“It’s fine with me,” she said, as genuinely as possible.

“Oh, thank you, Elphie!” Glinda squealed. “I might not be back in time for dinner, but that will give you and Nessa a night alone, right?”

“Yes, it will,” said Elphaba. Surprisingly enough, that didn’t make her feel any better. Dinner alone with Nessarose wasn’t all it was cut out to be… especially when her girlfriend was out eating dinner with some model. Elphaba pushed that thought out of her head immediately. She needed to at least try to get over this fear.

“Alright, well, I’ll see you tonight,” said Glinda. “Love you, pookie!”

“I love you too,” Elphaba whispered, and a moment later, the line went dead. She hung up the phone and let herself slump forward onto the desk. She needed some food… and a drink.

She got both about an hour later, once she had finally managed to escape the office and had made her way to the Life Café. This time of day, the Life was nearly deserted. Elphaba dropped her things next to a bar stool and sat down before ordering a cold beer and some fries.

About halfway through the fries, someone came to sit on the stool beside her. “I’ll have a beer, please,” a familiar voice said to the bartender, who swept away to fetch the drink.

Elphaba turned to look at Boq. “Hey, Elphaba,” he said. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I could say the same.”

“Bad day?”

“You have no idea.”

The bartender returned and handed Boq a full mug of beer. “Thanks,” said Boq, and the bartender left them alone.

“You?” Elphaba asked.

“Not too bad, I guess,” Boq replied. He took a swig from his mug of beer. “Yero and Shell were at the loft today. Crope and Tibbett came too.”

“Oh?” said Elphaba, faintly interested. “How are they?”

“Fine.” Boq took another drink, then sat stiffly, as though he wanted to say something. “They seemed intent on bullying me today.”

“What makes you say that?”

Boq looked at her. “Generally I consider backing someone into a wall and getting after him to be bullying.”

“That depends,” said Elphaba. “It might just be peer pressure.”

“I’d still call it bullying.”

“What were they getting after you for?”

Boq didn’t answer right away. “Nothing,” he finally answered.

Elphaba didn’t believe him for a moment, and she told him so. “You said they were getting after you. Tell me why.”

“I never said anything about them getting after me,” Boq argued.

“You said they were bullying you, and that bullying includes being gotten after. That implies they were getting after you for something, and I want to know what it is.”

“Implications aren’t facts, Miss Elphaba,” Boq said angrily. His tone and the use of the honorific shut Elphaba up for a moment. But Boq’s anger faded quickly. He put the mug down on the counter and looked away from her. “Besides, it’s none of your business,” he added in a whisper so low that Elphaba barely heard it.

She decided to act as though she hadn’t heard it, since Boq was so obviously opposed to telling her whatever it was. Instead, she took another swig of her beer, which was rapidly growing warm.

The pair sat in silence for a while. They sipped their beers and got refills when the mugs were empty. Slowly, the Life Café began to fill up with people, and the near silence was soon filled with chattering and laughter. No one came to sit beside Boq and Elphaba at the bar, though plenty of calls for wine and beer could be heard throughout the café. Elphaba continued to sip at her beer, not wanting to get drunk, but eager to stop thinking – and worrying – about Glinda for a little while.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed before Boq suddenly spoke again. “They wanted to know why I haven’t asked Nessarose out yet,” he said quietly, apparently unable to keep it to himself any longer.

Elphaba wasn’t really surprised. After all, she and Nessa and Glinda had been wondering the same thing. She would have said as much, but she was reminded of her promise to Nessa, and reluctantly kept her mouth shut.

“I tried to tell them that I haven’t found the right time just yet,” Boq went on. “But they wouldn’t listen.”

Elphaba tried to think of something to say that wouldn’t break her promise to Nessa. “Timing is important,” she said finally.

I think so,” Boq agreed.

“But you know, I think she’ll say yes, no matter when you ask.”

“Really?” Boq’s eyebrows lifted in surprise and excitement. “Do you really think so? Well, of course, you would know – she’s your sister, after all.”

“That she is,” said Elphaba. Never mind that I don’t understand the way she thinks half the time. She didn’t say that to Boq, though. He seemed to be doing a fine job encouraging himself, with only minimal input from her, and she wasn’t about to ruin it.

Boq looked infinitely happier now than he had looked when he came in, and Elphaba knew it wasn’t just because of the alcohol – though that might have had something to do with it. “Oh, Oz, I feel so much better now,” he said, smiling, obviously relieved. “Thanks, Elphaba.”

“Don’t mention it,” said Elphaba. “At least, not to Nessa, if you please.”

Boq looked confused. “Why…?”

“Let’s just say I promised Nessa I wouldn’t give you any encouragement in this matter.”

Boq stared at her for a moment, obviously still a little confused. “Whatever you say.” He took another drink and the two of them lapsed back into silence. But this time, Boq’s silence was more cheerful, while Elphaba barely felt better at all. She was beginning to feel like this happened far too often when she and Boq got together. It would be nice, she decided, if one of these times, Boq didn’t leave feeling great while she ended up feeling lousy.

After a while, their other friends began to arrive. Crope and Tibbett were first, arriving not long after Boq and Elphaba had fallen silent again. Elphaba noticed that Boq shied away from them at first, until it was obvious they weren’t going to bring up the subject of Nessarose again. He was still a little wary, and to Elphaba’s surprise, the two of them looked at him with an almost guilty expression. Nevertheless, he began talking to them again, so that was a start. Elphaba, on the other hand, wasn’t in the mood to be social, and Tibbett noticed.

“Bad day, sweetie?” she asked, while Crope was busy talking to Boq.

“Just a bit,” she answered, taking another sip of beer to emphasize her point.

Tibbett put her hand on Elphaba’s shoulder. She might have hugged someone else, but Tibbett had learned that Elphaba didn’t care much for hugs. Elphaba tolerated them from Glinda, since she loved the woman so much, and from Nessarose and Shell, at times, but she refused to accept them from anyone else. Hugs just felt strange to her, since she had never been given them as a child. She wasn’t an overly sentimental person, anyway.

“Hey, why don’t we move to a bigger table?” Crope suggested, apparently finished with his conversation with Boq. “I know Yero and Shell are coming – are Nessa and Glinda coming, Elphaba?”

“I’m not sure,” said Elphaba, realizing that she had completely forgotten about Nessa. She suddenly felt the urge to kick herself. “Glinda went shopping with… with a friend.” Just thinking about Jill made her ill again; she couldn’t begin to say the name. “And I came here right after work – I think Nessa’s still at work.”

“Can she get home?” Boq asked, obviously concerned.

Elphaba nodded. “She can get to and from work by herself just fine. But I don’t think she can get here from there on her own – at least, not in time to have dinner with us.”

“I’ll go get her,” Boq offered eagerly. He quickly stood up and made to get his coat, but Elphaba motioned for him to sit.

“Let me call her first,” she said. She dug through her briefcase to find her cell phone. “Just give me a minute.”

Boq didn’t protest, so Elphaba punched in Nessa’s cell phone number. The phone rang a few times before it clicked and Nessa answered. “Elphaba?”

“Hey, Nessa,” said Elphaba. “Are you at work?”

“I’m on my way home. Why?”

“I’m at the Life Café right now. A group of us is getting together to have dinner. Do you want to come?”

There was a pause. “Is Boq there?” Nessa asked finally.

“Yes,” Elphaba replied. “Everybody will be here but Glinda, unless she finishes her shopping early.”

“Glinda went shopping?”

“Is that really a surprise?” Elphaba asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No,” Nessa laughed. “I guess not. Did she go by herself, or…?”

“With Jill,” Elphaba finished for her.

“Oh,” said Nessarose. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Elphaba said firmly, ignoring the looks Crope and Boq and Tibbett were giving her.

Nessa didn’t answer for a minute, then said, unconvincingly, “Okay, as long as you’re alright. Do you need me to come down there?”

“I was the one inviting you.”

“Well, if you don’t need me…”

“I don’t need you,” Elphaba insisted. “I was just calling to see if you wanted to join us. That’s all.” She had to force herself not to raise her voice. Nessa was being very frustrating, but she had no desire to let her other friends know exactly how she was feeling, especially since she herself was sure what she was feeling right now.

“Fine,” said Nessarose, still sounding unconvinced by Elphaba’s words. It was not the first time Elphaba wished she didn’t have sisters who knew her so well. “I’d like to come. Will you be the one to pick me up, or are you going to stay stubborn and send somebody else?”

Elphaba took a deep breath and tried to relax. “I think I’ll be stubborn,” she responded calmly. “Boq volunteered to pick you up, and I think he might explode if I don’t let him.” As expected, Boq didn’t look too pleased with that last comment, but at the moment, Elphaba didn’t really care. Let him be offended; she was speaking the truth.

“Fine,” said Nessa. “I’ll meet him at home in a few minutes.”

“I’ll tell him.”

“See you soon, Elphaba.”

“Good-bye, Nessa,” Elphaba replied, shutting off her phone a moment later. She turned to Boq. “She’ll meet you at our apartment,” she told him. “You know where that is?”

“Yeah,” said Boq. “I’ve brought Nessa home a few times.”

“Good,” said Elphaba. “Then go fetch.”

Boq didn’t look pleased with this comment either, but he said nothing as he grabbed his jacket and moved away from them.

Once he had gone, Crope said, “The poor kid must like Nessa a lot to put up with you, Elphie.”

“I don’t appreciate the implication, Crope,” said Elphaba, now thoroughly annoyed. “And don’t call me Elphie.”

When Glinda arrived back at the apartment, after Jill had dropped her off and they’d said their good-byes, Nessarose and Elphaba were nowhere to be found. Elphie’s briefcase was not in their room, so Glinda suspected she hadn’t come home from work. In the kitchen, she discovered a note from Nessa that confirmed her suspicion. The group, it seemed, was getting together at the Life, and Glinda was invited to come along at her leisure.

Suddenly Glinda regretted sending Jill away so quickly. She would have enjoyed a ride to the Life. But as it was, she would have to walk. Stepping outside, she pulled her pink coat more tightly around her and prayed a silent prayer of gratitude that it wasn’t snowing, at least. She hurried through the bustling streets in the direction of the café, hoping she wouldn’t be too late to see everyone.

By the time she made it to the Life Café, Glinda was freezing; her teeth were chattering to prove it. Pushing open the door to the café, she felt a blast of warm air, and she sighed with relief. Inside, the place was crowded, as usual. There was a myriad of smells, but the smell of fries and beer dominated all others by far. In the corner, Fiyero was playing the guitar, though Glinda could not hear it over the rest of the sounds in the place. Shell, who stood next to Fiyero, seemed to be enjoying it, at least. It made Glinda smile to see the two of them so happy together. They both deserved it.

Scanning the room, Glinda quickly found the rest of her friends. The easiest to spot was Elphaba, of course, thanks to that beautiful emerald skin. Crope and Tibbett were feeding each other food – they were nearly finished with dinner by now – and were making eyes at each other, so much that even Glinda, who considered herself to be a hopeless romantic, couldn’t look at them for long. Boq and Nessarose were chatting amicably, though the slight awkwardness that usually existed between them was still there – a product of Boq’s failure thus far to ask Nessa on a date. Meanwhile, Glinda noticed that Nessa was sitting farther away from Elphaba than usual. Glinda could practically feel the tension between the sisters, even from this far away, and she was perplexed. Elphaba and Nessa’s relationship had always seemed strange to her, but she had never seen this much outright tension between them before.

Of course, one look at Elphaba told Glinda that something was wrong. Elphaba was never outwardly giddy, by any means, but she normally didn’t look this sullen, either. She’s had a bad day, Glinda thought. Maybe I should have come home earlier. Glinda didn’t like seeing Elphaba like this. She would have to be extra gentle with her words, and she supposed a night of love-making would be required to help Elphaba feel better.

Glinda carefully made her way through the crowd, heading for the table at which her friends were seated. As she approached, it was Crope and Tibbett who noticed her first. “There she is,” said Crope, grinning at her. “Our little diva has arrived at last.” Elphaba looked up in time to see Glinda reach the table. Her expression was frustratingly unreadable. Glinda wasn’t sure how Elphie did that, but she wished she wouldn’t.

“Hey, lover boy!” Crope called out, turning toward Fiyero, “get your girlfriend and your guitar-playing ass over here! Glinda’s here!”

Fiyero looked over at them, but it took him a moment to register Crope’s words. Then he saw Glinda, and he understood. While he put his guitar away, Shell made her way back to the table and greeted Glinda with a hug. “I heard you went shopping,” she said as she pulled away. “What’d you get?”

“Now now,” said Crope, before Glinda could say a word. “Don’t get Glinny started on a shopping story – we’ll be here all night.”

Glinda gave him her best glare, both for the remark and for the nickname. Then she turned back to Shell, unable to be really mad. “I’ll show you everything tomorrow, if you want to stop by,” she promised. Shell nodded, looking excited at the proposition. “And you,” Glinda added, turning to Elphaba, “don’t you grin at me. Shopping is a serious matter.”

The small grin that had appeared on Elphaba’s face after Crope’s comment widened. “Of course it is, Glinny dear,” she said, playfully mocking Glinda.

Glinda decided not to respond to this. She was fighting a losing battle on this one; shopping was one of those subjects Elphaba simply could not, and would not, ever understand. So instead, she turned back to Crope. “Were you all waiting for me?” she asked. “I see you’ve all finished dinner already.” She glanced down at the mostly-empty plates around the table.

“Crope has something he wants to tell us,” said Fiyero, stepping up to put his arms around Shell. “He wouldn’t say a word ‘til you got here.”

“We were starting to worry you wouldn’t show,” Shell added.

“Well, I’m here now,” said Glinda. “What is it?”

Crope stood up, looking as though he were about to make a big announcement. “Sit down,” he told Glinda, Fiyero, and Shell. Shell and Yero settled into the nearest chair, leaving Glinda to find her way to the chair by Elphaba. On her way over, she leaned in and planted a quick kiss to Elphaba’s forehead. Elphaba barely reacted.

Then Glinda’s eyes went back to Crope. “So?” she asked. “What’s the news?”

Crope smiled. “Tomorrow night,” he began, using a distinctly dramatic voice for effect, “the Wizard is hosting a Valentine’s Day ball at the Ozdust Ballroom in Shiz.”

Everyone stared at him blankly, unsure of how to respond. Crope looked like he expected them all to be excited, but not even Glinda was sure why.

“Well, isn’t that wonderful,” Elphaba said at last, breaking the silence with one of her characteristic sarcastic comments. “Why are you telling us?”

“Is it just for students, since it’s up by the university?” Shell asked.

Crope shook his head quickly. “No, no, it’s for adults,” he answered. “The students are invited too, of course, but that’s not the point.”

“Then what is the point?” Elphaba demanded testily.

“Elphaba, be nice,” Glinda said, shocked by how mean Elphie was being to Crope.

Both Elphaba and Crope seemed not to notice Glinda’s comment. “The point, Miss Elphaba,” said Crope, deliberately using the honorific, “is that, as a member of the faculty of Oz University, I’m officially inviting you all to come. I have to be there anyway, to help represent our university at Shiz…” He didn’t look very happy with this idea. “…and I’d really appreciate it if I had my friends there with me.”

“I’ll come,” said Boq. Crope smiled at him.

“Hell, I’m in,” said Shell. “Sounds like fun. I’ve never been up to Shiz. What do you think, Yero?”

“Sure, I’ll go,” Fiyero replied, shrugging. “I’m up for anything.”

Glinda couldn’t help but smile a little at Fiyero’s answer. She remembered how hard the last year had been on the poor boy. Last Valentine’s Day, he had been a step away from killing himself. Now he was “up for anything.” That made Glinda very happy.

“I’d love to come, Crope,” Glinda said. “I’m sure Nessa and Elphie will come too, won’t you?” She turned to look at her girlfriend’s sister first, since Nessa was more likely to say yes, and if Nessa said yes, then Elphaba would be more willing to drag herself along.

“Of course,” said Nessa, to Glinda’s satisfaction. “If it’ll mean that much to Crope, I’ll be there.”

They all turned their attention to Elphaba, then, but the green woman didn’t respond. Glinda was not sure what had put Elphaba in such a foul mood, but it was beginning to get on Glinda’s nerves. Nevertheless, she kept her face bright and cheery. “Elphie? You will come, won’t you, pookie?”

“I don’t see why I should,” said Elphaba. She ignored the others and looked straight at Glinda. “I’ve never had any fun at balls. They’re just… well, cultish social gatherings, if you ask me.” The way she practically spit the words “social gatherings” emphasized her point.

“Well, if you won’t go for Crope, then do it for me,” Glinda insisted. “It’ll be more fun if you go with me.”

Elphaba looked as though she highly doubted that. “I don’t know, Glinda…”

“Please, pookie, for me,” said Glinda, giving Elphaba her best pout.

Elphaba tried to look away, to avoid seeing the look on Glinda’s face, but as it usually did, Glinda’s pouting worked. “Oh, don’t look at me like that,” she said finally. “I’ll go – but just this once.”

That was much as Glinda could ask for. Delighted, she threw her arms around the green woman and kissed her. “Oh, thank you, Elphie,” she said, beaming. “We’ll have so much fun!”

The look on Elphaba’s face said that she did not agree with Glinda’s statement, but Glinda didn’t care. Elphaba was going to have fun at the ball; Glinda would make certain of that. As long as they were all together, what could possibly go wrong?

Boq couldn’t bring himself to look at Nessarose once Crope had introduced the idea of a ball. He felt a particularly strong urge to glance in her direction, but at the same time, he was too afraid to do it. Perhaps tonight was the night to ask her out – in fact, he was quite sure of it – but he couldn’t do it now, in front of everyone, especially right after his outburst earlier. They were sure to tease him to no end, anyway; he didn’t feel especially inclined to give them more fodder from which to do it.

It felt like forever before Shell informed them that she was late for work, and so she and Fiyero took off. Crope and Tibbett followed suit soon afterward, leaving Boq alone with Glinda, Elphaba, and Nessarose. He could sense that Glinda and Elphaba were itching to leave, though probably for different reasons. Once they left, Nessa would have to go, too; she needed them to drive her home. He wasn’t going to get a better opportunity than this. So he took a deep breath, told himself to calm down and just do it, and said, “Nessa, can I talk to you for a minute?” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Elphaba’s eyebrows raise and Glinda’s eyes widen slightly, but he tried to ignore them. It was hard enough getting himself to meet Nessa’s eyes without worrying about them. “Alone,” he added, deciding the green woman and the blonde woman needed to hear it.

Nessarose cocked her head, gazing at him, for a moment, as though trying to figure out what he wanted to say just by looking at him. Knowing her, she could probably do it, too. “Sure,” she said finally. Her hands went to the wheels of her chair and she began to move herself away from the table. The motion was so effortless that Boq was surprised that he had noticed it. It never failed to amaze him how well Nessa handled that chair. She may not have liked the chair at all, but Boq thought she looked beautiful nonetheless.

Glinda and Elphaba, meanwhile, exchanged glances. Then they stood up and turned to look at Nessa. “Don’t be long, Nessa,” said Elphaba, adopting an almost motherly tone that surprised Boq – it was hard to picture Elphaba as a mother.

“Elphie here needs to get her rest,” Glinda added, grasping Elphaba’s hand and squeezing it.

“I do not,” Elphaba lied, though no one believed her. “We’ll wait outside, Nessie. Don’t keep her too long, Boq,” she finished, staring straight at Boq with an expression that practically dared him to act. Their eyes met for a moment, sharing a sort of mutual understanding. Then, before he could say anything in response, she turned and led Glinda toward the door of the café.

After they had gone, Boq felt a strange mixture of relief and panic. He was relieved to be free of them all at last, but now he was alone with Nessarose, and that meant that it was time for him to say what he wanted to say. Naturally, that meant he was suddenly unable to say anything at all. Hesitantly, he turned to face her, his mind racing to find the words that his mouth simply would not say. This, he thought, is why it took me so long to ask Glinda out. Why do I even try?

“So what did you want to talk to me about?” Nessarose asked, breaking the awkward silence.

“Well… I…” Boq began, his brain scrambling for a coherent sentence. “The ball,” he finally managed. “It’s about the ball.”

“What about it?”

“Well, I know you’re going, and… and I was wondering if, maybe, you’d like to… to go with me.” He rushed the words at the end, as though eager to get the sentence out in the open.

Nessarose didn’t move. She didn’t even blink. She just sat there, expressionless, for a moment. Boq was reminded of Elphaba, and he realized that he had found another, albeit frustrating, trait the sisters shared. It felt like an eternity that they sat in silence, gazing at each other. Boq’s heart raced, and he felt about ready to explode. Was Elphaba wrong? Would Nessa turn him down? And if so, could he handle it?

Then, slowly, a smile crept onto Nessarose’s lips. “Are you asking me on a date, Boq?”

Boq nodded, relief beginning to fill him even though she hadn’t technically accepted yet. “I suppose I am.”

“Then yes, I’d love to go to the ball with you,” said Nessa, reaching out to grab Boq’s hand. “On one condition.”

Boq was too excited that she had said yes to worry about conditions. “Name it,” he said.

“Stop being such a coward,” she said. “It took you way too long to ask me out. I’ll let it go this time, but you really need to find some courage if you want to be my boyfriend. You think you can do that?”

Boq nodded. “I’ll do my best,” he promised. “I want to be a good boyfriend.”

“I’m sure you will be,” Nessa encouraged him, squeezing his hand.

Boq decided right then that if courage was what it took to make Nessa happy, he’d do anything to get it. He’d even go see the Wizard if he had to. He wasn’t fond of the idea of going to see the Wizard, but if that was what it took, he would do it. Nessarose was worth it.

[ chapter 12 ]

Mood: sicksick
Theme Music: The Iron Sea - Keane