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15 December 2010 @ 10:37 am
Somewhere Over The Moon (12/?) -- 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 11 ]


February 14th: Valentine’s Day. Doomsday, you might say. If you’re me, that is, and your first date with the girl you like is tonight, and all your friends – not to mention the public – will be there. No pressure.

It is, at least, a beautiful day outside. The sun is out, and even though it’s still cold, the snow is melting and the wind has died down, leaving the weather pleasant. The city is bustling, as usual, but there is a spring in most people’s steps that isn’t there ordinarily. I think I would attribute this more to the weather than to the holiday, though – at least in my case.

It is several hours before the dance. The train for Shiz is leaving soon, but in the meantime, we are busy getting ready. Nessa, Shell, Glinda, and Tibbett have been at the girls’ apartment for hours. The Unnamed God only knows what they’ve been up to. Elphaba, meanwhile, has joined Crope, Fiyero, and I at the loft. Apparently, she needed to get away from all the fuss about dresses, shoes, and make-up. “I’ve got what I need,” she said, holding up her simple black dress, her favorite black hat, and the only shoes she owns that aren’t military boots. She didn’t bother to explain why she looked Glinda-fied – with make-up and hair done and all that – and when Fiyero started to ask, she shot him a look and he shut up immediately. So, we’ve been here, doing nothing, and we probably won’t get ready until it’s just about time to leave. What’s the point of getting dressed earlier than that?

It ought to be an interesting night. I wonder how Crope’s colleagues will react when they see Tibbett. I can’t see how Yero and Shell or Elphaba and Glinda’s nights could go wrong, unless Glinda decides to start flirting with other people again. I don’t even want to
think about my date with Nessa. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It was Tibbett who encouraged Elphaba to get away from all this. All it took was a sideways glance at the green woman to know that she would sooner have been anywhere else than here. Personally, Tibbett was thrilled at the chance to hang out with the girls and get all dressed up for the dance. Elphaba, on the other hand, was far from thrilled about the idea. Tibbett knew all too well what it felt like to be pressured into staying with a certain group, so she sympathized with Elphaba’s plight. On a more selfish note, she wanted to have a good time today, and having Elphaba around would no doubt ruin the mood. Elphaba would be better off spending the afternoon with the boys. So, while Nessa and Shell were fawning over Glinda’s dress choice. Tibbett pulled Elphaba aside and subtly encouraged her to take off.

“That way you can pick up your date with the rest of them,” she said. “Besides, I imagine Boq will need your helping making it through to tonight.”

Elphaba looked skeptical, but a smirk crossed her face at the mention of Boq, and she was convinced. Within two minutes, she gathered up everything she would need for the night and made her way to the door, trying to leave without being noticed.

But before she could slip away, Glinda caught sight of her girlfriend opening the door. “Elphie, where are you going?” she asked.

Elphaba turned back around slowly. “I’m going to the loft,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’ll get ready there.”

“Why not get ready here?”

“I’d rather not be involved with all the affairs of shoes, hair, dresses, and make-up, thank you.”

Glinda looked hurt. “I want you here, Elphie,” she pouted.

“You’ll hardly notice I’m gone,” said Elphaba. “I’ll be back to pick you up with the others.”

Tibbett watched as a battle raged inside Glinda’s mind. “Fine,” Glinda said at last. “But at least let us fix your hair and make-up before you go.”

Elphaba visibly squirmed. “I don’t wear make-up,” she said. “And what’s wrong with my hair?”

“Nothing, dear,” Glinda said soothingly. She stepped up to Elphaba and ran her hand along Elphaba’s customary braid. “But it’s so beautiful down – you simply must wear it down.”

“Fine. I can do that – but I can do it just as well at the loft as here. Now, can I go?” She reached her hands to open the door further, but Glinda moved faster and shut it completely before Elphaba could leave.

“Not so fast,” she said. “You are not going to the Ozdust looking like that, Miss Elphaba. This will be my first time going to a ball with you, and I want my girlfriend looking presentable. I’m letting you wear the black dress and that old hat and those old shoes, but that’s as much as I’m allowing. You happen to be beautiful, and I want the people of Shiz to know it.”

Elphaba frowned. “I am not beautiful, Glinda,” she said simply. “You don’t have to lie to me.” Tibbett’s heart sank at Elphaba’s words. This poor woman; how could she possibly think she wasn’t beautiful?

Fortunately, Glinda wasn’t about to let this go. “It’s not lying,” she said quietly, cupping Elphaba’s cheek in one hand in a comforting gesture. “It’s looking at things another way.” She stood up on her tiptoes and kissed the green woman.

When she pulled away, Elphaba was smiling. “So, if I’m already beautiful, can I look at things another way and skip the hair and make-up session?”

Tibbett and the others began to laugh, and Elphaba smirked, but Glinda looked less than pleased. “I don’t think so, Elphaba Thropp.” Elphaba’s smirk disappeared at the use of her last name. “With that statement, you might just have earned yourself an even longer session.”

Elphaba looked horrified. Satisfied, Glinda turned and began to pull Elphaba by the hand toward the bathroom. Elphaba glared at Tibbett as she passed. “I’m blaming this on you,” she whispered harshly.

Tibbett shrugged, feigning innocence. How was she supposed to have known that Glinda planned to do this to Elphaba?

She stood by and watched as Glinda and Shell went to work on Elphaba. Elphaba had refused to let Shell help at first, until Glinda said that this would go faster if Shell helped. After a few minutes, Tibbett began to help Nessarose with her make-up for the evening, but they both kept an eye on the green girl’s progress. The make-up Glinda applied to Elphaba’s face was fairly simple, especially when compared to Glinda’s or Tibbett’s, but it was definitely bolder than what any of them was used to seeing on Elphaba. Still, when Glinda finally pronounced her finished, Elphaba looked gorgeous – at least, that’s what Tibbett thought.

Glinda seemed to think so too. “Why, Miss Elphaba, look at you,” she said. “You’re beautiful.”

Elphaba stared into the mirror – something Tibbett didn’t think she was in the habit of doing often. She reached a hand up to touch her cheek, as though she couldn’t believe that this was really her face staring back at her. Slowly, a smile crept onto her lips. Tibbett smiled with her. It was so good to see her happy with her own appearance like this.

Then, as suddenly as it had come, Elphaba’s smile was gone. A trace of fear flashed across her face, almost too quickly to be noticed, and then her expression hardened to near-unreadability again. “I have to go,” she said, rising quickly and rushing out the door. It was only moments before they heard the sound of the front door opening and closing again, and Elphaba was gone.

“Well, you’re welcome!” Glinda called after her indignantly, despite the fact that Elphaba could no longer hear her. Then she sank into the recently-vacated chair and nearly began to cry.

Tibbett rushed over and put her arms around Glinda. “It’s alright, sweetie. Elphaba will be alright. You did a lovely job.”

“Why does she always have to do this, Tib?” Glinda asked, struggling to hold back her tears. “Doesn’t she know that she’s beautiful – that I think she’s beautiful?”

“Of course she does,” said Tibbett. “Didn’t you see the smile on her face when she saw herself in that mirror?”

Glinda nodded. “But why did she have to run away?”

“She’s just not used to thinking of herself as beautiful, sweetie. She’s used to handling insults, not compliments. She doesn’t know what to do with them yet.”

“I suppose you’re right. I just wish you weren’t.”

“I know, sugar,” said Tibbett. “I know. But let’s not ruin today by fretting about Elphaba. She’ll come around. An afternoon of doing nothing with the boys may be just what she needs.”

“Though I can’t imagine how that could be more fun than what we’re doing here,” said Shell, winking at Glinda and eliciting a smile as a response. “Am I right?”

“Absolutely,” said Glinda. “Elphie and the boys don’t know what they’re missing.”

“Well, technically, Elphaba does know what she’s missing,” said Nessa. “She just lived it.”

“That’s beside the point, Nessa,” Glinda argued. “We’re going to have so much fun, without or without them. Now, who’s ready for a makeover?”

Tibbett smiled as she watched Glinda carry on. It was so nice to see the blonde woman in her element. But Tibbett could only watch for so long; there was fun to be had, and there was no way she was missing it.

Shell had never been to Shiz, and though she wouldn’t admit it to anyone, she was nervous. She had to keep reminding herself that she was going to the Ozdust and not the university, but even that didn’t seem to calm her nerves. She knew she wasn’t going there in order to make an impression, but all this dressing up and getting ready reminded her of her childhood, when she and Elphaba had been forced to go to balls and parties where they could never hope to please their father, no matter how hard they tried. Elphaba had given up trying to impress people a long time ago, but Shell had never completely been able to do that. She wanted to say that she didn’t care about people’s opinions, and to a certain extent, she didn’t, but if she had an opportunity to make a good impression, she would take it.

Tonight was also about making an impression for Fiyero’s sake. She supposed it was almost a lost cause, since Fiyero had dropped out of Shiz instead of graduating. Maybe this made her impression all the more important. She could help Fiyero prove that you don’t need a degree to be happy. She would just avoid talking about her job, or Fiyero’s lack thereof.

The train ride itself was an all-new experience for Shell. She had never been on a train before. The trains that went all through Gillikin were extensive and expensive, but very nice. She was just glad they had Elphaba’s money and Glinda’s parents’ money to pay for the tickets. They didn’t all fit in one compartment, so Glinda, Elphaba, Crope, and Tibbett had taken a compartment across from Shell, Fiyero, Boq, and Nessa. Nessa’s chair was secured at the end of the coach, while Nessa sat happily on the seat next to the window. Shell sat across from her, and together, the sisters enjoyed the view of the Gillikin countryside passing quickly by.

“Are you excited to go back to Shiz?” Shell asked after a while. All three of her compartment-mates had attended Shiz at one time, though only Nessa had actually graduated.

“If by Shiz, you mean the university, then hell no,” Fiyero answered. “But if you mean the Ozdust Ballroom, hell yes.”

“Fiyero was always the part animal,” said Boq. “He got us all to go to a party at the Ozdust the very first night he arrived at Shiz.”

“Really?” Shell looked over at Fiyero, surprised.

“Yeah, I did,” Fiyero admitted. “But people were only paying attention to me because of the antler incident.”

“What antler incident?”

“That was you?” Nessa asked suddenly. “Elphaba told me the story – I wasn’t in the class – but she never told me your name. Or maybe she did and I just didn’t remember.”

“I didn’t know you were in Shiz then,” said Boq. “I mean, I knew you went to Shiz, but I didn’t know you were there the same time I was.”

“We kept to ourselves, Elphaba and I,” Nessa explained. “But I don’t know how you could have missed Elphaba – she’s usually quite noticeable.”

“Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing a green girl in class that day,” said Fiyero. “I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, green skin isn’t that much weirder than dark skin and blue diamonds.”

Shell was growing frustrated. She didn’t like being left out of this little nostalgic trip through time. “Excuse me,” she said. “I hate to break up the ‘remember the good old days at Shiz’ party, but would someone mind letting me in on this antler incident story?”

Boq began to tell the story of Fiyero’s late arrival to his first Life Sciences class, how a pair of enchanted antlers had attacked the new kid, and how Avaric (Boq’s roommate at the time) and Crope had wrestled them away from Fiyero before they killed him. That, Boq explained, was how the four of them had fallen in together.

“That’s why you all became roommates in the Emerald City,” Shell said as Boq’s story came to a close.

Fiyero nodded. “Nothing like a near-death experience to bring people together.”

“Just be thankful it’s not the only way to bring people together,” said Shell.

“Trust me, I am. One set of crazy enchanted antlers is enough for me.”

The conversation died away shortly after that, leaving the inhabitants of the compartment lost in silence. Shell continued to stare out the window, watching the countryside pass them by. Every now and then, she looked over at Fiyero, who would smile at her and squeeze her hand. Then she might look at Boq and Nessa, the latter of whom insisted on holding the former’s hand, whether he was comfortable with it or not. It was in moments like this that Shell could see the personality resemblance between her and Nessa. Shell and her sisters were all very different, but they had all gotten boldness and stubbornness from their mother.

Eventually, the countryside outside the windows of the train began to change to roads and buildings that grew closer and closer together. They were entering the industrialized city of Shiz now, Shell guessed, based on the amount of smoke rising from the buildings around them.

“The next stop is Shiz,” the voice of the conductor called out over a loudspeaker. “Change here for all points east and west. Again, the next stop is Shiz. All change here.”

Shell began to shift around in her seat, now anxious to get out of her seat and off the train. Nearby, Boq looked about as restless as she was, though she suspected his restlessness was more from anxiety than hers. Shell was just eager to be moving again. She was missing a big night at work tonight – nightclubs were busiest on holidays, especially ones like this one – and she needed a night of fun and excitement with Fiyero and her other friends to make up for it. Hopefully this dance wouldn’t be too fancy or formal; Shell was never in the mood for that.

The train finally began to slow down, until at last, it ground to a stop. “Shiz Station,” called the conductor’s voice. “Shiz Station. All change here. Welcome to Shiz.”

Shell and Fiyero stood up from their seats. Boq started to rise, but then glanced at Nessa and sat back down beside her. Shell followed Fiyero out into the corridor. Crope and Tibbett had already gone to see that Nessa’s chair made it onto the platform. Glinda stood with Fiyero and Shell while Elphaba swept into the compartment to scoop Nessa up in her arms. Boq looked on as the green woman carried her sister out the door, unable to figure out if her should be helping or not. They all followed Elphaba and Nessa until they were off the train and on the platform. There, they rejoined Crope and Tibbett, and Elphaba set Nessa gently into her chair. From there, Boq took over, pushing Nessa along as they made their way toward the station exit.

The Ozdust Ballroom was not far away from the station, according to Crope, so they decided to walk there instead of trying to find alternate transportation. It felt a little strange to be walking around the city in such fancy clothing, but Shell didn’t mind. They were a group that attracted stares no matter what they were wearing, so tuxedos and ball gowns didn’t make that much of a difference.

In some ways, Shiz looked no different than the Emerald City. There were lots of people, and quite a few factories, and lots of noises and smells that reminded Shell that this was definitely a city. But the buildings were smaller and in better shape than most of the buildings in the Emerald City. Shell could hear Glinda talking animatedly about architecture to Elphaba as they walked along. Elphaba, meanwhile, seemed to be interested in the fact that there were a few Animals out and about here; they rarely showed their faces in public in the Emerald City. Shell was busy trying to get a feel for the city as a whole. It was definitely Gillikinese – she could tell even without having ever been in Gillikin before. It was busy and industrialized, while at the same time, maintaining its proud high-class feel. It reminded her of Glinda in a way – lively and practical with a hidden side of glitz and glamour.

Of course, the glitz and glamour of the Ozdust Ballroom itself was not hidden at all. It was easy to see why this place had been chosen by the Wizard for the ball. Fiyero was right; it was the most swankified place in town. All the red and pink lights on the outside of the building made Shell smile. Behind her, Elphaba groaned and muttered something about too much pink, to which Glinda responded with an, “Oh, Elphie!”

Here, for the first time since they’d arrived in Shiz, Shell could see others who were as dressed up as she and her friends. In fact, most of the people she saw now had fancier clothes than they did. But no one Shell saw was dressed as colorfully as Tibbett… or Glinda, for that matter. Even her own dress – blue, to match Fiyero’s diamonds – looked quite colorful next to the predominantly black-and-white garb of the crowd. Crope wore a black jacket and trousers, and Elphaba was all dressed in black, of course, but the rest of their group wore colors. Shell was quite proud of this fact.

Inside the ballroom, music was already playing, and couples were already dancing. All around the edges of the room, people stood around, drinks in hand, talking and gossiping amongst themselves. It was easy to pick out the students in the room; they crowded together in larger groups, wore shorter and more revealing dresses, and brimmed with naïve confidence. The professors were easy to find, too. They were brimming with confidence, too, but it was a much more condescending confidence. Shell looked over at Crope and wondered if he was thinking the same thing. She saw his gaze drift to where the other professors stood, and immediately, he reached his hand down to squeeze Tibbett’s. Shell smirked. Just let those stuffy professors see them now.

They all paused a short distance from the door as they surveyed the scene in front of them. Fiyero stepped up behind Shell, wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her body back against his. He pressed a kiss to her forehead and whispered in her ear, “You look gorgeous tonight. You know that?”

Shell grinned and turned slightly to look up at him. “You look pretty damn hot yourself.”

“What can I say?” he said, a confident smile spreading across his face. “Must be the Arjiki genes.”

“I’ve got them too, you know.”

“Maybe that’s why you’re so damn gorgeous.”

She turned all the way around and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Maybe that’s where you get your damn ego.”

Fiyero shrugged. “Could be.”

Shell rolled her eyes and pulled her boyfriend in for a kiss. “Just behave tonight,” she whispered into his ear, “and I’ll make it worth your while.”

“I look forward to it,” he whispered back. He placed a kiss on her cheek, where her diamonds were. A shiver ran through her face and down her spine. She loved it when he did that.

“Later,” she whispered, reluctantly pulling her face away from his. She didn’t dare let him keep doing that; too many kisses like that and she might not be able to keep herself from pushing him against the wall and taking him right here, in front of everyone. Although, she thought, that’s certainly one way to make a statement. She laughed at the thought, but shoved it away. There would be time for sex later – lots of sex later, if Shell had anything to say about it.

“Honey, would you excuse me for a while?” Avaric asked. “I have a few people I’d like to talk to.”

“Oh, sure, dear,” Pfannee said, barely glancing at her husband. “Have fun.” She went straight back to gossiping with Shenshen and the other women, whose names Avaric couldn’t be bothered to remember.

“Oh, I will,” he said, mostly to himself. He straightened his tie and adjusted his coat. There were lots of beautiful women here tonight, just waiting for a man to ask them to dance, and since his wife was otherwise occupied, he was free to work the room as he saw fit, putting his charms and his good looks to use.

As he moved away from Pfannee, a group of brightly-dressed people entering the ballroom caught his eye. He recognized them instantly, of course; it was all four of his old roommates and their girlfriends. Well, he couldn’t be sure that Boq was actually dating the girl in the wheelchair, and technically Crope’s partner was male, not female, but Avaric had always found it easier to generalize. If he wanted to say that all his old roommates – including Galinda, to his continued amusement – had girlfriends, he could.

The eccentric group always caught his attention easily. A part of him still wanted to be one of them, even though he liked the money and power he got while married to Pfannee. But one member of the group especially caught his eye tonight. She was dressed in an incredibly alluring blue dress that made the four diamonds on her cheek seem especially bright. Avaric was not fond of the fact that she was with Fiyero, but the way that she was looking at him and kissing him caused a stir in Avaric’s trousers. He remembered very vividly the way she had touched him all those months ago, and he shuddered at the very memory.

It would be impossible to separate her from Fiyero enough to get her into his bed tonight, Avaric knew. But he could plant the seeds, so to speak. He knew Fiyero’s weaknesses. A small part of him felt bad about cracking the kid, but Avaric pushed aside the small part, pretending it didn’t exist. He wanted Shell again, and he always got what he wanted.

Smirking, Avaric moved back into the crowd so they wouldn’t see him. He would catch Shell by herself, and then his plan would leap into action. They had made his Lurlinemas exceptionally painful and humiliating; he would pay them back, and he would get laid in the process.

As soon as they entered the ballroom, every eye was on them. Most of the people stared at the brightly dressed women and the woman with the green skin. But Crope was sure that most, if not all, of the professor-types were staring straight at him. Or perhaps they were staring at Tibbett; he couldn’t be sure. He had been expecting stares. Normally, stares wouldn’t have bothered him. In fact, he probably would have made sure they were staring. Stares made him feel proud, defiant. He was confident in who he was, and the fact that people stared reminded him of how proud he was to be different.

But dating Tibbett had changed him. Tibbett wasn’t like any other boyfriend Crope had ever had. When Crope was with Tibbett, he felt content, settled. He wanted to be able to hold down a job to provide for his lover. He didn’t believe he would ever deserve Tibbett’s love, but he did all he could to prove that he was grateful that Tibbett loved him anyway. He couldn’t let Tibbett down, and losing his job this early in the semester would definitely count as letting Tibbett down.

He could only hope that they had meant it when they had said they were desperate for teachers. If that were true, they would find it much more difficult to get rid of him.

Beside him, Tibbett was nearly jumping up and down with excitement. Tonight she was wearing her blonde wig again, along with a pink and purple dress, pink stockings, and a shiny golden coat. As Crope took her hand, he noticed that her nails were blue, despite the fact that it did not match her outfit at all. Blue nails were Tibbett’s favorite.

“I want to dance,” Tibbett said excitedly. “Can we?”

“Of course we can,” Crope answered. He took a step backward, bowed, and raised Tibbett’s hand to his lips for a quick kiss. “May I have this dance?”

Tibbett smiled and curtsied. “Certainly, good sir.” Then she let Crope lead her out toward the part of the ballroom where people were dancing. Shell and Fiyero were quick to follow, and Crope saw Glinda tugging on the arms of a reluctant Elphaba, trying to get the green woman to dance. Even Boq and Nessarose joined the dancers, though they stayed toward the edge of the circle, to make it easier for Boq to maneuver Nessa’s chair.

“They’re so cute,” Tibbett commented, joining Crope as he watched Boq pushing Nessa around and attempting to dance at the same time.

“They sure are.”

Tibbett turned to look back at Crope. “Would you do that for me if I couldn’t dance anymore?”

“I’d do you one better,” Crope answered. “I’d pick you up and dance with you in my arms.”

“Are you sure you’d be strong enough to carry me?”

“I’ll always find the strength to carry you, my angel.”

Tibbett laid her head against Crope’s chest as they continued to dance. Crope didn’t believe there could be anything more perfect than this.

But the moment soon ended. Without realizing it, Crope and Tibbett had danced right over to where some of Crope’s former and current colleagues – from both Shiz and Oz University – were standing. As Crope leaned down to place a gentle kiss on Tibbett’s forehead, he heard someone behind him clear his throat loudly. Annoyed, Crope spun his head around until his gaze fell on Professors Nikidik and Grommetik, two of his old colleagues from his Shiz days, who had also taught him back when he had been a student.

Crope took Tibbett by the hand and led her over to the pair of professors. “Good evening, gentlemen,” he said. “Good to see you here this evening.”

“I wish we could reciprocate the sentiment,” said Grommetik. He spoke with a falsely polite voice – he had always been the more socially conscientious one.

“Tell us, Crope – what are you doing here?” asked Nikidik. “I had been operating under the belief that attendance at this ball was by invitation only.”

By this, of course, Crope knew he meant, How the hell did you get invited to this? He smiled. “I’m on the faculty at Oz U now,” he informed them. “All faculty members were expected to make an appearance. And,” he added, gripping Tibbett’s hand tighter, “we were allowed to invite anyone we wished.”

“I see,” said Nikidik. “Well, that would explain the arrival of your little group of misfits. Shouldn’t you all be back in the east end of the Emerald City, where you belong?” His eyes travelled to Tibbett as he spoke, then back to Crope again.

“We belong a great many places, Nikidik,” Crope said, trying not to let the looks Grommetik and Nikidik were giving Tibbett bother him. “My ‘little group of misfits’, as you call them, happens to include Glinda of the Arduennas, Fiyero Tigelaar of the Arjiki royal family, and all three daughters of the governor of Munchkinland.” Crope wasn’t sure his friends would appreciate his use of their titles like that, but he was sure they would support him trying to stick it to this stuffy old Shiz professor.

Both pairs of professors’ eyes travelled to the other members of the group, then slowly returned to Crope and Tibbett. Neither professor looked impressed. “So now you’ve enticed members of society into your group as well,” said Grommetik. “How very happy it must make you to see how far they’ve fallen.”

“Not that I’m surprised about some of them,” Nikidik added. “Miss Elphaba, for example. She was always a troublesome one, meddling in affairs that were best left alone. And that skin… well, that was always an indication of how she’d end up. Just look at her, cavorting with that other young lady – it’s a disgrace.”

“Little wonder her father wants nothing to do with her – or so the rumors say,” Grommetik added.

Crope was about to say something, but Tibbett stepped in first. “Elphaba was probably the brightest student to ever walk the halls of Shiz,” she said. “She’s certainly got more brains than the two of you. And the person she chooses to love is her own affair. I’ve never seen Elphaba and Glinda as happy apart as they are together.”

Grommetik’s eyebrows rose. “Glinda?” The name didn’t seem to register with him at first. “Oh, so that’s Galinda of the Arduennas. How strange. I’d heard that she had all sorts of male suitors seeking her hand.”

“Apparently not any longer,” said Nikidik, watching Glinda and Elphaba dance around the floor. “It seems living in that part of the city has turned her into a lesbian.”

“What a shame,” said Grommetik. “She would have had such a bright future.”

Crope was getting angrier with every word that came out of their mouths. He would have left, but he wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of winning. “She still has a future,” he insisted. “And if she chooses to share that future with Elphaba, that’s her choice, not yours.”

“What’s this about me?” Coming up behind them were Elphaba and Glinda, who must have caught the last comments as they danced this direction. Elphaba, who had spoken, turned slightly stiff at the sight of her old professors. “Good evening, Professor Nikidik, Professor Grommetik.”

“Miss Elphaba, you’re looking as green as ever,” said Grommetik. “I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed.”

“And you’re still as big an asshole as ever. I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed.”

Crope, Tibbett, and Glinda had to choke back laughter at Elphaba’s remark. Grommetik and Nikidik, meanwhile, looked less than pleased. “I see you haven’t lost your charming wit, either,” said Nikidik. He turned to Glinda. “Tell me, is that what won you over? Or was it her kind and sensitive personality that turned you from a precious little princess into a filthy lesbian whore?”

Glinda’s face turned white from shock. She was suddenly speechless. “What… I…”

“Leave her alone,” Tibbett interrupted. Grommetik and Nikidik turned back to face her. “Your quarrel is with Crope… and Elphaba, I guess. Leave Glinda out of this.”

Nikidik took a small step toward Tibbett, looking her straight in the eye. “And what about you, hmm? What was it about dear old Crope that won you over? Was it the fact that you’re both men who should be out looking for women instead of sleeping with each other? Or are you too busy pretending to be a woman to ever win one over?”

Crope very nearly punched Nikidik in the face right then and there. Elphaba looked ready to do the same. Nikidik must have seen them tense up, because he stepped back to his place, a satisfied grin on his face. But before either of them could move to show him what they thought of him, Tibbett stepped forward. Her face was completely calm as she marched straight up to the two professors and stood with her hands on her hips, looking Nikidik straight in the eye.

“I’m more of a man than you’ll ever be,” she said. “And I’m more of a woman than you’ll ever get.”

They all remained motionless at first, until Tibbett suddenly turned and strode away. They stared after her as she went, not realizing that they still hadn’t moved.

It was Glinda who moved first. Copying Tibbett, she stepped toward Grommetik and Nikidik and said, in a falsely polite voice, “And that, assholes, is our final word on the matter.” She turned around and walked toward Elphaba. “Come on, Elphie, let’s dance.” Still stunned, Elphaba put up no fight at all as Glinda led her back to the dance floor.

Crope, Grommetik, and Nikidik remained frozen in place. Finally, Crope shook his head to snap himself out of his reverie, then smiled. “Well, gentlemen, it’s been fun, but I’ve got to go find my girl.”

The other professors glared at him. “Watch yourself, Crope,” said Grommetik. “Or you may find your employment at Oz University over before mid-term.”

Crope’s grin widened. He bowed dramatically. “It’s been a pleasure,” he said. Then, with a flourish, he turned and returned to the dance floor. He found Tibbett talking to Shell and Fiyero, retelling the story of what had just happened. When Crope arrived, she was repeating her final remarks to Nikidik and Grommetik.

“You tell ‘em, girl,” said Shell, as Fiyero threw his head back and laughed.

“She sure did,” Crope said, grinning proudly as he put an arm around Tibbett. “She was amazing. Weren’t you, angel?”

“Oh, thank you, honey,” said Tibbett. “You’re so sweet.” She leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

Crope took Tibbett by the hand and squeezed it lightly. By now, he was so pumped up and excited that nothing could bring him down. He had never realized that reality could get you just as high as pinlobble leaves, but with the added benefit of being able to remember it all later.

“Shall we get this party started?” he asked, looking around at his friends.

“Hell yeah,” said Shell. “It’s time to party!”

She gave Crope a high five. Crope was suddenly aware that there were people watching them. But now, he reveled in it. Bring it on, he thought. You’re never gonna bring us down!

Elphaba barely noticed that they were dancing again. She was too busy staring in wonder at her beautiful blonde girlfriend. She was having a hard time believing that Glinda had stood up to those two professors like that. It was one thing for Elphaba to refer to them as assholes – they had always been the professors at Shiz with the least competency and the largest egos. And besides, curse words sounded less strange coming from her mouth. Glinda, on the other hand, gave off such a good and innocent aura that anything less than perfection didn’t seem to fit. Elphaba was used to hearing Glinda swear at her, or at inanimate objects, but she would not have expected the blonde to ever direct such language toward respectable members of society. Or maybe it wasn’t such a surprise, she thought, since Nikidik and Grommetik couldn’t possibly be called respectable.

“Elphie, are you alright?”

Glinda’s voice startled her. “What?” Elphaba asked, shaking her head in an attempt to regain her focus. She hadn’t realized how far out of it she had been.

“You were staring off into space,” said Glinda. “Don’t tell me you were thinking again.”

“You make it sound like that’s a bad thing.”

Glinda chuckled. “All things in moderation,” she said. “What were you thinking about?”

“You,” Elphaba answered, “calling those bastards assholes.”

Glinda’s cheeks flushed a very pretty shade of red, and she looked away from Elphaba. “Oh, that,” she said. “It might have been a little harsh.”

“Not at all.” Elphaba lifted a hand and turned Glinda’s face back toward her. Then she leaned in closer and whispered into Glinda’s ear. “They deserved it.”

Elphaba felt Glinda shiver as the warm air of Elphaba’s words brushed her skin. The skin between Glinda’s ears and neck had always been especially sensitive, and Elphaba often liked to take advantage of that piece of information. She did so now, placing small kisses on the side of Glinda’s face and slowly moving down toward the curve of her neck.

A small moan escaped from Glinda’s lips. “Elphie,” she breathed, instinctively tipping her head back to give Elphaba better access. Elphaba began to use this to her advantage, kissing the newly exposed skin with increased fervor. Their feet continued to move, taking them in a circular pattern, but they were too busy to notice. Glinda’s unexpected boldness had turned Elphaba on more than she had realized. It didn’t help that Glinda was wearing this dress – an elegant pink ball gown that emphasized all of Glinda’s best features and practically begged to be taken off.

She might have done it, too, if Glinda hadn’t come to her senses. “Elphie,” she repeated, but this time her voice was not breathless or pleading. “Elphie, stop it. Not now.”

“Why not?” Elphaba placed a kiss on one of Glinda’s most sensitive spots and smiled as Glinda gasped.

But Glinda somehow remained insistent. “Not here. We’re in public. Wait ‘til later.”

Reluctantly, Elphaba withdrew her face from Glinda’s neck and stood to her full height. “Fine,” she said. “But there will be a later.”

“Of course.” Glinda stretched upward to press her lips to Elphaba’s. Then she sank back down and looked up at Elphaba thoughtfully. “You know, you really are a good dancer, Elphie.”

Elphaba just stared at her, a little taken aback. “What?”

“You only just learned the steps a little while ago, and already you know them well enough to dance and seduce me at the same time.”

This time it was Elphaba’s turn to blush, her cheeks turning a darker shade of green instead of bright red. She wanted to respond, but had no idea what to say. She’d certainly never been complimented on her dancing before.

Glinda laughed. “Why, Miss Elphaba, you’re blushing.”

“Thank you for informing me, Miss Glinda – I had no idea.”

“Oh, you mean green thing.” Glinda gave her a playful slap on the shoulder. “I love you – I really do.” She laughed for a moment, then sighed. “Oh dear, I’m suddenly quite thirsty. Pookie, would you mind fetching me a refreshment?”

Elphaba was a little surprised by the request, but she nodded anyway. “Sure, honeybear. What would you like?”

“Oh, anything, as long as it’s cold and wet. You know what I like.”

“Alright. I’ll be right back.” Elphaba bent to give Glinda another kiss, and then pulled herself away from her girlfriend’s arms. Glinda turned and began walking toward the wall, away from the other dancers, to await her drink.

It took Elphaba a minute or two to find the refreshment table; she had located it when they first arrived, but all the spinning and dancing had confused her sense of direction. Finally, she spotted it, located on the side of the room opposite Professors Grommetik and Nikidik, for which she was grateful. She slowly made her way to the table of refreshments, nearly running into and knocking over several dancers in the process. Somehow she made it to the table in one piece.

Elphaba looked over the beverage and food choices on the table. There was no line anywhere; everyone was just taking whatever they wanted whenever they could get to it. She was able to pour herself a glass of champagne, and then selected some sort of bright pink-colored drink for Glinda. She took a sip and grimaced at the taste, then decided it was exactly what Glinda would like. She had just filled a glass for her girlfriend and had turned to go when she collided with someone. Some of the pink drink sloshed out of the glass and landed on the clothes of the person with whom she had collided.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said, while at the same time, the person said, “Oh, pardon me. I wasn’t looking where I was going, I’m afraid.”

It was then that Elphaba realized that she knew this person. “Dr. Dillamond? Is that you?”

The Goat looked up at her and smiled. “Why, if it isn’t Miss Elphaba, come back to Shiz. How are you, my dear?”

“Great,” Elphaba managed. Surprise at seeing her old professor had apparently hindered her ability to form a coherent sentence. “I’m doing very well. And yourself?”

Dr. Dillamond looked away from her, suddenly uncomfortable, or sad, perhaps. “I’ve seen better days, Miss Elphaba. But let’s not dwell on that.” He looked back at her, trying to smile. “I want to know all about what my favorite student has been up to. Although, perhaps we ought to move away from the refreshment table first.”

“That would probably be wise,” Elphaba agreed. So, still carrying the two drinks in hand, she followed Dr. Dillamond to a nearby nearly-empty corner of the room. Elphaba set the drinks down on a small table and sat down in a chair next to it.

“So,” said Dr. Dillamond, once Elphaba was seated, “what have you been up to, my dear?”

“Well, I’m a lawyer now,” Elphaba began. “I’ve been living in the Emerald City with Nessa – you remember Nessarose, right? My younger sister?”

Dr. Dillamond paused for a moment, trying to remember. “Ah, yes,” he said at last. “The one in the wheelchair, correct? Oh, she was such a sweet girl. And her essays weren’t half bad either, as I recall.”

Elphaba smiled at Dr. Dillamond’s compliments of Nessa. “She’s working as an artist now.”

“Oh, is she? Good for her. I was never the artistic sort, myself. I think it’s easier to be an artist if you have fingers. I’d be more suited for law than for art, I believe. What sort of law work do you do, anyway?”

“A whole variety of things,” Elphaba answered. “I’m not very high up yet. But defense cases are my strong suit, or so I’ve been told. I try to deal with cases of civil and Animal rights whenever I can.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised,” said Dr. Dillamond. “You have always had such a heart for those of us with paws.”

Suddenly, he looked very sad, and he looked away from Elphaba again. “Dr. Dillamond, what is it?” Elphaba asked.

“Oh, Miss Elphaba, it warms my heart to hear that you’re fighting for our rights – the rights of the Animals, I mean.” Slowly, he turned his face back toward her. “But I fear that very soon, the law will no longer be able to help us.”

“What do you mean?”

Instead of answering right away, Dr. Dillamond looked around, as if to be sure that no one was near enough to overhear. Even so, he came closer to Elphaba and spoke in a near-whisper. “Surely you’ve noticed the increasing restrictions on Animal activity.”

“Of course.”

“My poor mother cannot even travel like a normal person on a train any longer – she has to ride in a pen. A pen! Can you imagine? It’s infuriating!”

“I’ll say.”

“I’m afraid that’s just it, Miss Elphaba – you can still say, even with all the prejudices held against you. I’m afraid that many of us will very soon be deprived of that luxury.”

“What?” Elphaba breathed, shocked. “What do you mean, you won’t be able to say anything anymore?”

“I’ve heard things, Miss Elphaba,” Dr. Dillamond answered. “Terrible things. An old friend of mine, an Owl from Munchkin Rock, has been a minister all these years, spreading the Unionist faith.” Elphaba grimaced a little, and her old professor noticed. “It doesn’t matter what you think of his faith, Miss Elphaba. The point is, I’ve heard that he was forbidden to preach at all. His flock has faded away, and…” Dr. Dillamond stopped short, almost to the point of tears. Elphaba extended a hand and began to massage his back comfortingly. “… and now, he can’t speak at all,” the poor Goat continued. “All he can do now is screech!”

“What?” Elphaba couldn’t believe it – she didn’t want to believe it. “He forgot how to speak? But how is that possible?”

“There’s so much pressure not to,” he answered. “If you make it discouraging enough, you can keep anyone silent.”

“But… but it can’t be. It just can’t be.”

“I’m afraid it is, my dear,” said Dr. Dillamond. “Something bad is happening in Oz, under the surface, behind the scenes. I know these are only rumors, but still, it’s enough to give pause to anyone with paws. Already I’m the only Animal remaining on the faculty at Shiz, and there haven’t been any Animal students at Shiz in years.”

“You’re right,” said Elphaba. “There weren’t any when I graduated, and that was years ago.”

“It’s true, Miss Elphaba. I’m afraid Oz is becoming less and less, well, colorful.” He smiled at her, and for once, Elphaba felt proud of her emerald green skin. There were very few people who could make her not hate the color of her skin, and Dr. Dillamond was one of them.

“Perhaps we should move on to a less heavy topic,” Dr. Dillamond said. “This is a party, after all – we should be trying to enjoy ourselves. Besides, it is so good to see you smile, my dear. It was a rare thing to see that smile when you were at school.”

“There weren’t many reasons to smile at school,” said Elphaba.

“But you have reasons to smile now, I hope.”

“I suppose so.”

“Would it have anything to do with the person for whom that pink drink is intended?”

Elphaba nearly blushed. She reminded herself that this was Dr. Dillamond; he meant well, and he would certainly not judge her at all. “Perhaps,” she answered vaguely. “Or perhaps this pink drink is for me, and the champagne is meant for someone else.”

“I’m smarter than that, Miss Elphaba. I know you well enough to know that you that you would never think of drinking anything so pink.”

“You caught me.”

“Is it safe to presume that the intended drinker of this pink drink is the object of your affections?”

“Yes, in fact.”

“May I ask who the lucky one is?”

Elphaba nodded. “Her name is Glinda. You met her once, I believe, on the train to Shiz – you would have known her as Galinda of the Arduennas back then.”

Dr. Dillamond paused again. “I’m not certain I remember her. Perhaps if you point her out…”

Elphaba scanned the room. It didn’t take long to find Glinda; the bright pink dress and curly blonde hair were a dead giveaway. “There she is,” Elphaba told Dr. Dillamond, pointing in Glinda’s direction. “The blonde woman in the pink dress.”

“Ah, yes,” said Dr. Dillamond. “I see her now.” He watched her for a moment, then shook his head. “I’m still having difficulty remembering her. My apologies.”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Elphaba. “She wouldn’t expect you to remember her.” Actually, Elphaba was quite sure Glinda would be disappointed to not be remembered, but there was no point telling Dr. Dillamond that.

“Well, I expect it of myself,” he said. “I strive to remember the people I’ve met, no matter who they are. I would hate to think that I’ve forgotten someone, especially someone who is now making my favorite student smile so brightly.”

Elphaba nearly blushed again. “Would you like to meet her? I really need to get this drink back to her, anyway – if I can make it there without spilling pink liquid on anyone else.”

Dr. Dillamond laughed. “I would be honored to meet the woman who has captured your heart, Miss Elphaba. Lead on.”

They stood, and Elphaba was about to scoop the drinks up off the table when she suddenly thought of something she wanted to say before they went to meet Glinda. “Dr. Dillamond, if something bad is happening to the Animals, then someone’s got to tell the Wizard. After all, isn’t that why we have a Wizard? He can make it right.”

“I hope you’re right,” said Dr. Dillamond. “For all our sakes, I hope you’re right. I cannot begin to imagine an Oz without the voice of the Animals. Let up hope the Wizard can stop this something baaaaa…”

Elphaba nearly jumped backward, and so did Dr. Dillamond. She couldn’t have heard what she had just heard; it couldn’t be true. “Dr. Dillamond, are you alright?”

Dr. Dillamond coughed and cleared his throat. “Pardon me. I’m not sure what came over me. Now, shall we go and meet your Glinda?” He began to walk toward Glinda as quickly as possible, and Elphaba knew he was ashamed of what had just happened.

“It couldn’t happen here,” she whispered, sadness and fear rushing in to fill her as she walked him walk away. “Not in Oz.”

[ chapter 13, part 1 ]

Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Theme Music: Break Me Down - Red