Chapter 1: In which Glinda gets a job
The world was an incessant battle for your life and Glinda was ready for her final rest. Or maybe something slightly less dramatic. She couldn't be bothered to pick careful words in the fury of her own mind.
This was farther from the college experience she had been promised than she could have imagined − and all that her parents' fault, no less. She had envisioned a lot more parties and socializing, maybe the occasional gathering at her new apartment with the most popular students of her year. She could have tolerated lectures and maybe, in the direst of cases, group study session with the local nerds to cram whatever she had missed from class. That would have been a pretty picture of what her college life ought to have been.
Classes were fine. Nothing to write home about but the teachers seemed competent and the other students were, if not interesting, at least not so annoying and boring that she wanted to escape the room. And the apartment was nice enough, she would grant that. On the smaller side, although that couldn't be helped in a cramped campus city, but it was a place to rest. It used to be a property her parents rented out every year to whichever new wealthy student they could find − all of them the kind of people Glinda might have desired to acquaintance herself with. This year, they rented it out at a very fair price to their one and only own daughter.
Their arguments were numerous and all more reasonable than one another, of course. This was the year of her becoming a woman out in the world. All the other kids had been working throughout high school or even earlier. Nothing was more rewarding than paying your own bills and rent as an independent adult. They couldn't just let her stay at the apartment of their own property without having her cash out for it, that would be loss of money. And so Glinda, who had never known a hardship in her life, was shoved into a nasty apron and behind a counter and sold coffee to pay back her parents for the all too expensive right of a roof over her head. And no amount of begging dearest darlingest Momsie and Popsicle for compassion made them budge from their position.
"Erm, excuse me…"
That boy again. Glinda had never cared much about most boys beyond how well loved and popular she felt at their side, or in any case about boys like Boq. Small, fidgety and awkward, he reminded her of a small squirrel, or maybe a gerbil. In the few days since she had started her job at the coffee shop, her shifts had largely overlapped with his and she could have done entirely without that. His staring wide eyes were just another penny in the bucket of her misfortune. If he thought himself subtle, he thought wrong.
"What?" She replied, realizing too late that she had sounded rather blunt and adding a polite smile to soften the blow of her indifference towards him. "What is it?"
"The milk… I mean, I think you forgot to clean the tip of the… and now it's…"
Glinda found herself at a loss and it wasn't until Boq delicately grabbed the guilty milk steamer she had left unwiped that she understood the interruption. Some crust had formed on the metal tip and it gave off a nasty smell when he rubbed it clean. She groaned internally. This job was getting the best of her and it was only her first week. She wondered how many she would last before her body and mind would expire, too exhausted by the toil. Could someone die of standing about for too long? Who would pick her up when she collapsed? She had always been used to getting her way and in many ways, the betrayal of her parents was the hardest pill to swallow in her situation but equally difficult was the reality of the daily work to be done. And Glinda was bad at it. She didn't like knowing that she was bad at anything.
It had all started the first day with the uniform. Glinda was indeed very much used to adorning her outfit whichever way she wanted. That freedom had been cut short by the manager periodically lurking about for any point to nitpick about. Gone were the cute badges, the pink shirt underneath the apron, her hair forced into a ridiculous bonnet she wouldn't wish on her ama. The rest of it had just unfolded like a horror story. Glinda didn't rinse off the cups properly and the work had to be done again. Glinda didn't know how to wipe tables and had to be shown the correct way. Glinda was chewing gum on the job and was made to throw it away. Glinda was messing up the orders and had to make them again for free, wasting a good cup of whatever erroneous caffeinated beverage she had come up with. Glinda took too long to spell names on the paper cups, made an artistic effort utterly unwanted at a fast corner coffee shop. Glinda didn't know how to talk to customers, to coworkers, and didn't know how to stop talking to friends.
That, she could have done without as well. It wasn't even enough to be humiliated with having to get a random low paid job, but her entire social circle knew about it. Every day was an occasion for Pfannee, Shenshen and, though more gently, Milla to come parade to her damned Starbucks and order each a mix more complicated and unheard of than the next.
"Isn't it so funny," Pfannee teased, pointing her wooden coffee stirrer at Glinda over the counter on a low afternoon dip in her schedule, "that out of all of us, you would be the one to be pushed into the workforce before your time? I mean, your parents own a fortune."
Glinda frowned and didn't reply, frenetically wiping down the counter space and putting everything in its right place, a semblance of having things put together, of knowing what she was doing. What she was truly doing was praying in her heart that her so-called friends would leave her be and let her suffer on her own, of course. As long as they were ordering drinks, however, they counted as customers and so she couldn't be heard telling them the truth of it.
"Hilarious," she grumbled and Pfannee and Shenshen snickered.
"It's not that bad, is it?" Milla asked, holding out a hand in a gesture of good will that never made it to Glinda's arm. The reach was too long, separated by the bridge of Glinda's new job − or at least by the counter.
Glinda sighed and handed her the order − some elaborate detox tea mixture Glinda had never even heard about.
"Of course not," she lied, "Nothing I can't manage. You know me."
Milla took a sip of her tea through a straw, all while staring at Glinda intently.
"Yes," she said slowly. "I do know you."
Whatever smart retort Glinda was trying to come up with was saved for later reflection as the glass door of the shop was pushed open by her knight in shining armor. Glancing around the room, Fiyero's face lit up when he spotted her at the counter and he made his way to her. He was just out of work and the damp glisten of his puffy hair told her he was fresh out of the shower as well. Always the gallantry of the nicest date he could offer Glinda. She smiled at him.
"So, what does it take to steal you away from here?"
"Just asking nicely, dear," she said, already untying the apron from her waist and shaking her curls free from the damned hairnet. "Now, ladies, if you'll excuse me…"
Boq mumbled something about there being some time left before the end of her shift. Glinda handed him her apron and, after appropriate farewells to her taunting friends, took the arm Fiyero offered and left the den of Satan for the day. It was only at the diner Fiyero took her to that she started to feel like herself again, holding his hand over the table. He squeezed it, handing her his slice of cheesecake she had been eying after having finished her own dessert.
"So, how was work?" He asked as he might have asked what lip gloss she was wearing − which was none, after another remark from the manager − or the weather outside.
She rolled her eyes, diving into the cheesecake, the first good thing of the day.
"Horrible?" She replied after gulping down a too thick forkful. "Fiyero, that place sucks. I don't know how anyone does it."
He laughed out loud but stopped when he noticed her pout. Patting her hand gently, he replied.
"Just like you. They do it because they have to. I'm sure it's not all that bad."
Glinda sighed and shoveled a few more bites of cake down her throat. Of course, she had tried to sneak a cookie during one of her breaks but Boq had strongly urged her to pay for it, claiming this was a fireable offense if she got caught and reluctantly she had dropped a few bucks in the cash register, way more than what the cookie was really worth − it was much less tasty after the bother of paying for it. So much for trying to enjoy herself a little. In truth, with classes taking up a large chunk of her time and work filling in the rest, her days were as long as weeks and all she wanted was to go home and bury herself into bed. What an exemplary college experience that all was.
"It is," she insisted. "Today some girl threw a fit because I put dairy milk in her drink instead of oat milk. I don't even know why they call those 'milk' but, I mean, who cares? I hate this job."
"Maybe she was lactose intolerant," Fiyero offered, trying to smile and calm her down.
"She wasn't," she said, "She gave me a whole speech on animal rights and how dared I take that kind of moral risk with paying customers and she had had such a nasty day and just wanted to unwind and grab a drink far away from everyone and really, how self-centered is that? Don't you think? What about my day?"
The encounter with the girl had been all the more interesting considering her skin was, as far as Glinda could see, entirely green, a smooth and flawless skin as crisply bright green as a matcha latte. Glinda had never known anyone quite as colorful − the skin was the least of it. She couldn't say if that rant had been a lowlight or a highlight of her day at work. She shook her head to forget about it. It was just one customer and God knew there would be many more to come the next day, all more obnoxious than the other. She had better get ready to face a whole army of vegan veterans armed to the teeth to make her day as painful as possible.
"Well," Fiyero said, his thumb stroking the back of her hand, "Your day is over now. Tomorrow will be better if you let it."
She pushed the plate away after her last bite and shrugged, pressing a napkin to her lips and grabbing her pocket mirror to make herself presentable again. Her hair was a mess, her eyeliner all starting to smudge after a much too long day. Sighing, she put the mirror back into her purse, standing up to let Fiyero walk her home.
"I guess you're right," she said. "I'll bite my tongue and do my job and everything will be alright."
Would that she believed her own words.
Chapter 2: In which Nessarose is back
Nanny pays Melena a visit just as Nessarose is supposed to come back from a mission trip with her father.
The first few chapters are the set up and I hope they're not too boring! I have to explain where each of them is coming from if I want to tell the story of where they're going.
"Nothing is as it should be and this house will know the end of times before it knows cleanliness and order," Nanny declared the moment she set a foot in Melena's apartment.
It was her first visit in months and every second that passed, Nanny was becoming more convinced that this house doubled up as a garbage dump. She couldn't spot a single surface that was clean. Melena rolled her eyes, a gesture of defiance she had kept since childhood, even with her Nanny. There had never been an ounce of obedience to that girl, even after two children. Nanny was at her wit's end.
"Oh, you can be as fussy as you want," Nanny tssked. "I don't even know how you manage to raise Elphaba in here, and that's your tough one. Nessie is fragile and sensitive. She'll crumble before you know it."
Melena angrily grabbed the wipe Nanny handed her, having brought her own cleaning supplies. How very like her, ungrateful and difficult. Nanny loved her with all her heart.
"She's a child," Melena retorted, "Not a flower. And she's not even a child, she's a teenager. She managed Botswana, she'll manage it here."
Nanny shook her head.
"I still can't believe you let Frex take her for a whole year. How many letters did you receive while she was gone? Four? Five? How often did they call?"
Melena refused to hold Nanny's gaze and, for once, set herself at the task of cleaning up her kitchen in what looked to Nanny like the first time in that year of just her and Elphaba. For sure, Elphaba had been left to her own devices a lot and knowing the angry thing, the result had been an appalling lack of care for herself and for the house. The addition of an indifferent Melena letting her life go by was only making things worse. Nanny was ashamed of herself for not checking in more often, even more ashamed of them for letting it happen. In her worry for darling Nessarose taken by a deliriously devout father to convert all of Sub-Saharan Africa to Christianity, Nanny had attempted everything in her power to maintain what little contact had been possible and has neglected the children left on this side of the ocean. Seeing the state of the home, she now realized her mistake.
"It wasn't letters," Melena replied. "They have cellphones in Africa, you know, and Internet. Besides, it's not like Nessarose wanted me to call. She was mighty busy on her own."
"Proselytizing to the vulnerable and desperate, I suppose. I don't know what Frex was thinking. After what happened last time…"
Melena dropped the dishcloth she'd been holding and Nanny knew she had hit a sore point. She thought of apologizing. She did not. She might never forgive Melena for robbing her of the girls for two entire years when, as they were still children, Frexspar had decided his family's mission in life was to preach to the people of Africa, a mission only cut short when the funds of his sending church dried out. As soon as he had been able to get himself back out knocking doors, he had done it, but by then, the family had already fallen apart and the Thropps mother and elder daughter would not be cowed into following him this time.
"Well, it's not like we can get divorced a second time, can we?"
"Really, Melena, if for once in your life you listened to your Nanny…"
Nanny had been in Melena's life since her first breath and even before that, a maid to the Thropps. All the more woe to her, Melena had been an incessant worry from day one and even now that she had a family of her own, she had never managed to keep it. The thrill of perverting and eventually marrying a Catholic boy her parents wanted nothing to do with, the joy of rebelling had led her to a dull fatigue of being a mother when she had discovered that childrearing was work after all. The divorce had been long and nerve wrecking on both sides, with Frexspar pushing her to relent his precious Nessarose's custody solely to him and Melena vehemently refusing that − the singular shred of motherly affection left in her, it sometimes seemed to Nanny. In any case, the battle had suffered a loss when Frexspar had left like a thief in the night, their younger girl under his arm as off to Africa they both had flown. Melena had been left on her own with Elphaba, neither of them used to coexisting without the presence of their beloved Nessie. Now that she was to be back, it seemed they weren't used to coexist with her either anymore.
"All I do is listen to you," Melena said. "And trust me, I have listened a lot more than I ever wished. Help me make the beds, will you?"
The girls' room was a pitiful sight. After the divorce, Melena had only been able to afford a small apartment in the city, as Elphaba had refused to share a dorm with any potential roommate. It had just been cheaper for the whole family to move in near the campus when that family still amounted to two. With Melena's meager minimal wage and Elphaba's double major taking a too large chunk of her time for her to manage anything beyond her side job at the library, a cheaper rent had been a sacrifice on everything else. Melena slept on the couch and the room Elphaba was now meant to share with Nessie could hardly fit her bed and the mattress that had been hastily added to the disposition.
"And how is Nessie supposed to feel welcome home, sleeping on a dirty mattress on the floor?" Nanny shook her head.
Melena pulled fresh linens from some plastic box in the closet and dropped them onto the unmade bed. There was a large bookshelf that spilled onto the desk, piles of books on every surface. Nanny was certain that Melena had never even seen the inside of them.
"Don't be stupid," she replied, holding her half of the bed sheets and gesturing to Nanny to help her with the opposite side. "You know Elphie, she would take a bullet for Nessarose if she had to. Or even if she didn't really have to. Nessie will get the bed."
"She had better. Melena, you know Nanny offered to take home one or the other, and you know Nanny meant it."
Melena's head had dipped as she secured the linens to the bed and she was frowning when she leaned back up.
"If you offer one more time, I'll tell everyone at the synagogue that you… that you…" She seemed to be thinking so intensely about it. Lying had never been Melena's forte despite decades of attempting to. "That you let Elphaba become pregnant or something. I don't know."
"As if you went to the synagogue. I haven't seen you or that daughter of yours there in months. Where is she, anyways?"
A shrug was Melena's only answer.
"You've really let her run wild, haven't you? Don't tell me she really is pregnant."
Melena laughed, fluffing the pillows that were to be Nessarose's before kneeling down to take care of Elphaba's bedding on the floor.
"Elphie is not like that. She wouldn't know flirting from a slap in the face. There's no risk there."
"Well, there's one difference between you. How many men has it been since Frex, dearie? How many dozens?"
Another eyeroll, though Nanny knew that there was much more truth to her accusation than Melena would ever concede.
"If this is what you came for, Nanny, I'll show you out. I thought we were coming to help me prepare Nessie's comeback home."
"If you didn't want Nanny's good advice, you shouldn't have invited her." She paused as Melena requested her help to pull the comforter into the bed covers. They smelled clean, if a bit dusty. "It's something if Elphaba is not so easily swayed, but be careful about Nessarose. You know Frexspar will be watching out."
"I know what I'm doing, Nanny."
That was the boldest lie so far. Nanny loved Melena so dearly, more than she knew, but despite all her love, she also acknowledged that Melena's path of motherhood had been littered with mistakes. The bigger one was daring to think that nobody knew of her misdeeds, Frexspar or otherwise. Nanny had often wondered how much of a part that had played in the divorce, though Melena would say nothing about it. But surely even Elphaba must know.
"There," Melena said proudly as she finished the beds. "Now we'll clean the rest of the home, Nessie comes back tomorrow and everything will be alright."
"If you say so, duckie. But where is that other daughter of yours? You haven't answered. I had thought she would help her mother."
"You really don't know her, do you? She's terrified to see Frex. She's been out every night, I think she's hiding out at that coffee shop Boq works at. Besides, I don't think Elphie would know how to hold a broom in the first place."
"Makes two of you," Nanny noted and Melena had the nerve to snort.
At her leisure, Melena prepared a bucket of soapy water to clean the floors, pulled out the numerous bottles of air freshener and trash bags Nanny had brought. Everything to hide the mess of her life thus far. Nanny gladly helped throw everything away and, if there were quite a few more bottles than she liked to see, she tried to keep her tongue.
"She's a wild little green thing," she pondered, thinking of Elphaba, "but then, she reminds me of you. Do you remember that time I had to fish you out of that boy's bed? You'd been hiding in his room for days after sneaking out. How old were you? Not much older than Nessa, I think… Now, you say that Elphaba isn't that kind of girl, but how is it that neither of you like being home, Melena, can you tell me that?"
"Like mother, like daughter." She rinsed off her towel, frowning at the amount of dust she had gathered as if she was surprised by her own negligence. "Don't tell her I said that, she hates it when she's reminded she's a Thropp."
"Like mother, like daughter," Nanny nodded.
"Or perhaps like father, like daughter, if it's about her sister," Melena said, still frowning. "I don't even know what kind of girl Nessarose is turning into."
"That," Nanny said, grabbing the towel from her to give it a proper rinse, "Is a question for tomorrow."
Melena gave a reluctant smile, a little shrug, and started cleaning again. The house wasn't brought to perfect squeaky clean standards, not nearly neat enough to Nanny's taste, but it was made clean enough to welcome a child and maybe that would have to be enough.
Chapter 3: In which Boq is swooning
Boq suffers from the cruelty of his ever loving friends.
So sorry I didn't update yesterday! I went to see Hadestown last night and waited an hour and a half at stagedoor… I was so exhausted when I finally arrived at my room I was not in any state to finish the chapter. I'll definitely try to post chapter 4 today as well to get back on the schedule for the rest of the month!
Boq had had enough.
The best part about working at a coffee shop was that his friends could visit whenever they wanted. The very worst part was precisely the same fact. Boq had always tried to be a solid friend, to do his friends good turns whenever he could and to be a shoulder they could rely on, but despite his best sentiments, he had become exactly that and it was nothing at all like he had wanted. His shoulder was the place they would lean, but it was a gesture of taunting and teasing rather than the solidarity Boq had hoped for. And yes, his disadvantage of height was used to his detriment for that very purpose as well.
Elphaba had been at the coffee shop every day this week. She was enough of a bother on her own if it weren't for Crope and Tibbet adding their charming presence to the mix and between their bawdy jokes and her dry sarcasm targeted at his person, Boq didn't know who else to turn to. For sure not to his new coworker who seemed to make it her job to ignore him. Though he was used to it, Boq hated being ignored. It toyed with the fear he had always held of being irrelevant.
"Now, let's not get our hopes down, dear Boq," Tibbet croaked in a fit of snicker shared with Crope only. "I'm sure that in a month or two, Glinda will be aware of your existence."
Crope roared in laughter. Elphaba, who had been sitting quietly at a table nearby, almost a potted plant part of the interior design by now, didn't look up from her book but snorted and took a sip of coffee.
"And your plan of seduction can finally get unfolding," Tibbet added, clinking his cup with Crope's.
"What a picture that'll be," Elphaba said. "Note that I may well be here to witness it."
Boq groaned. That was his lot. He couldn't even rebuke them − any word too sharp to customers, friends or not, might get him a remark from the manager, who had never liked him.
"If anything at all happened here, you would be here," he hissed between gritted teeth, "Because you've spent your entire free time here this week. When are you going to go home, Elphie?"
Elphaba shrugged, turning a page of her book.
"You'd be out of home too if you had the risk of walking past Frexspar in the hall. And Nessa has become so very much a teenager in a year." She looked at him then, her dark squinting eyes that let nothing pass. "And why would I miss an opportunity to see your debut in the world of pick-up artistry? Where is the indifferent beauty anyways?"
In truth, Boq did believe that Glinda was beautiful, but the supposed crush on her was merely an invention of his friends designed to torment him. She was beautiful and he liked to look at her in the same way he appreciated a good painting. Glinda dressed to be seen and he saw her. Anybody could have noticed that. In fact, he was certain everybody did.
"In the break room. Getting ready for the end of her shift, I think she's going out."
"Taking her someplace nice already?" Crope chimed in. "My, my, things are heating up!"
"Not with me," Boq sighed. "With her boyf…"
The glass door opened and Glinda's boyfriend walked in and Boq crumbled down.
Boq had seen Fiyero several times in passing but in that moment, he felt as if he had never seen him at all, not like he did now. If Glinda was a picture, Fiyero was a statue, more than that, a living, walking piece of art. With every step, his chest heaved and his arms moved and Boq's heart throbbed. The coily hair that made a dark cloud about his head, the charming grin that could revive a dead soul, down to the arms and the forearms − oh, the forearms. His dark brown skin had a natural shine to it and there were dimples on his cheeks as he smiled at them. Boq gulped and lost his breath and his brains.
"Hey man," Fiyero said, nodding at him, and his voice was velvet and warmth. "Glinda here?"
Boq clung to the counter, unsure if his legs would support him if he didn't.
"Oh, you're early, sweetie!" Glinda's voice said behind them. She walked up to Fiyero, clinging to his arm, pressing a kiss on his cheek. She did look really nice in a cute short pink dress that looked more like an oversized sweater and white woolen tights to match − if she had to spend half an hour getting ready and leaving Boq alone to handle the shop, at least it wasn't in vain. "Biq, you'll handle closing on your own, won't you?"
Fiyero turned back to Boq, quirking an eyebrow.
"It's Boq, right?"
Boq opened his mouth but no sound came out despite all his best efforts.
"Yes, sure," Glinda mumbled, rolling her eyes. "Let's go."
Fiyero winked at Boq on his way out, grabbing Glinda by the waist and starting on a conversation with her. The door had barely closed behind them that the damned trio was back into action, jumping onto stools by the counter, smirking at their victim of choice.
"That was efficient," Elphaba said. "She looked so very swayed."
"Yes, you can see how much she's craving the Boq experience as she… left with her boyfriend…" Crope added.
Tibbet, who would have thought, was the one who cut short the bullying. Leaning over the counter, he messed with Boq's hair and stood up, offering a hand to Crope.
"Speaking of," he said, "I think it's time to go. Show's over. Elphaba, to the bar with us?"
Elphaba looked as though she had received an offer to trespass into a prison for murderers.
"I know I'm eager to stay out of home but I'm not that desperate. Besides, who would keep Boq company?"
Boq could well keep company on his own or with the rest of the customers to attend to, but he nodded and waved goodbye at the leaving pair. When he turned to Elphaba, she was fixing him.
"What? It's rude to stare, Elphie."
Elphaba had never bothered not being rude. Boq had known her since Hebrew school, back when she got into elaborate arguments with the rabbi who swore Elphaba understood what truth was more than the rest of them by calling into doubt everything the teachers tried so hard to make them learn. It was a childhood habit of talking back that she had never been tamed out of. Elphaba doubted and stared and analyzed and studied everything around her and she had always seemed to find human beings equally as fascinating as the natural things that were her academic predilection.
"You do look like she got you under a spell," she said slowly, as if she was formulating a truth never explored before. "I mean, I know we were having a laugh but I never…"
Boq groaned and set himself to clean up some cups that Glinda had left soaking and promised she would get back to before leaving.
"Not you too," he said and despised his voice for how whiny he found it. "There's nothing here."
"Oh, but there is. Aren't you doing her share of work for her right now? And who's going to report to management that she doesn't fill her full shifts?"
"Well, would you?"
Elphaba shook her head.
"You know what I think about working for other people. But still, it's all in your credit for your devotion. You looked at them leave like the sun was leaving."
"You're just saying that so I don't accuse you of a crush," Boq retorted.
That made her laugh. Elphaba's laugh was a raspy thing, something that would be too sharp and unpleasant to most but that you got used to. Elphaba needed getting used to.
"A crush? As if there was any room for love in this shrunken green heart. And who am I supposed to be crushing on, pray tell?"
Boq uttered the name that was on his mind and would forever be on his mind.
"Fiyero. You're just trying to deflect me from it, I feel it."
That made her laugh even more and she drank up the rest of her coffee to make it pass, sliding the cup over for a refill. Her grin was wicked.
"You caught me, then," she shrugged theatrically. "My exact type. A big burly man with hair everywhere and a penis and muscles for ages. You sure know what I like."
That was a mention Boq had not been ready for and he poured hot coffee all over his hand and the counter. It splashed to Elphaba who didn't even protest, too engrossed in her own idea of a joke, her image that Boq would not get out of his head for the night to come.
"Now, don't be stupid, and tell me the truth as it is," she said.
"There is no truth and there is no crush," he said. "As you said yourself, I am simply picking up the work she avoids, but that's because it needs done. I was raised well, you know."
"Don't I know it," she said, snorting into her next sip.
It was her fifth coffee of the day, having come here straight after her afternoon classes. Boq was not entirely sure Elphaba slept. He wasn't sure she ate − if her figure was any indication, not a lot. He didn't know if she loved, if she breathed, even. Elphaba was a mystery and sometimes it seemed to him that she was simply a snarky creature put on earth to torture the people around her into thinking more than they needed. And Boq did not want to think about any possibility of him having a crush.
"Well," she stood, grabbing her things and putting on her scratchy old jacket that badly needed replacing. "If you're to be uncooperative, I'll see myself out."
"Tell Nessarose I said hi," he said, "And to come visit some day. I've wondered how she's been."
"She's been a delight," Elphaba replied. "What else?"
She left. The coffee shop was now empty late at night and Boq was alone to his thoughts. He closed shop on his own, walked home and went to bed early.
Chapter 4: In which Elphaba sulks
Elphaba's anger at her mother lasts throughout the day and even into the evening when she grabs a coffee from Glinda.
Hey! I said I would post this yesterday and I didn't. It's here now. I'll try my best tomorrow or another day of this week to post two chapters. I had to deal with stuff from my trip in London this weekend and I didn't have time to write more than this chapter here. Hope you enjoy it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Elphaba slept in a bed that night. As per the arrangement decided between Melena and Frexspar, Nessarose was to spend every other week in this room. Every other week was not all the time, though. Elphaba was damned if she was going to let herself sleep on that lumpy mattress one day more if she could avoid it after Nessarose's short-lived presence they had just been granted came to an end. The bed had been cheap as dirt, all they could afford when Frexspar had taken all the money and grabbed Nessarose off to Botswana, but it was a bed and Elphaba had rather missed the sensation of a good night's sleep. How strange, the way things could change in just a few days.
Oh, of course it smelled of Nessarose. The scent of self-righteousness and show of purity was all over the sheets but Elphaba had missed that stench. She had missed the insufferable child that came with it. There was a rosary on the nightstand (how ludicrous for a girl without arms − her charity-paid prosthetics were good but lacked the fine motor skills to handle any such item, with or without the grace of God) and a bunch of flowers on the desk and the addition of a few books Elphaba swore to only read in the direst cases of boredom.
Still, it meant Nessa was home and as she awoke in her bed, Elphaba thought of her in ridiculously fond longing. A week was such a short time to catch up after a year of separation and Elphaba had taken almost no news of her sister in her absence. They weren't strangers, though. Elphaba had only had to take one glance at the girl − now sixteen, now grown a few inches in more than one direction − to remember her sister all too perfectly and for the pieces of the complex and frustrating puzzle of the Thropp family to fall back together again. They had hugged, they had bonded, they had found each other.
That was a strange person in Nessarose Thropp. People who called Elphaba stubborn had not met the younger Thropp. She gave her opinions just as readily but, under the veil of a proper smile and a discreet shrug, it would take a lunatic to take them as a threat. The bright pink of her cheeks probably also helped. Short of two arms, Nessarose was fearfully and wonderfully made all the same, if only because she lacked the green. All week she had bored Elphaba to death with her tales of winning souls and saving lives. All week Elphaba had listened to her every word.
Melena was still sleeping when Elphaba walked out of her room. She supposed it had been the effort of a full week of parenting. She must not have been used to it anymore. Elphaba stretched herself, took a big breath and opened the fridge. An additional benefit of having Nessarose around meant that Nanny had replenished the kitchen with everything a family of three might want to sate their needs. Though Melena's cooking skills were mediocre at best, Elphaba had not eaten as well in a long time. She was just about to grab herself a glass of milk when she saw it. The pack of beers was hardly hidden behind a bag of grapes and next to a head of lettuce. Elphaba groaned and in frustration, didn't even get her glass of milk. Rather, she found she lacked the appetite for it. Two bottles were missing from the pack.
"Melena," she snapped, unanswered.
Her mother was laying on the sofa bed in all her glamor, snoring her morning away. Elphaba shook her awake with no tenderness. A few seconds of stirring, followed by a dissatisfied grunt and Melena rubbed the sleep off her eyes.
"What the fuck," she said, her voice thick with tiredness.
"What the fuck," Elphaba hissed, "are beer bottles doing in the fridge? Weren't you supposed to be sober? Three months chip and all?"
There was a sigh and Melena's arm fell over her eyes as she dropped back into the sofa. Elphaba tried to remember what time Melena had come home yesterday. She had left just after Frexspar picked up his precious daughter, but Elphaba had been hiding in her room then, reading herself to sleep, and Melena must have come back much later. She had been talking about meeting up with girl friends but now, Elphaba wondered.
"Oh, like you're perfect and never make mistakes."
The open admission made her blood curl perhaps even more than the failure itself. Sometimes, she wondered if her mother's disaster of a life had been a consequence of her marriage or its cause. It sounded just like Frexspar to pick up a desperate rich girl with a huge penchant for addictions and try to straighten her soul back into good graces. If that had been the experience, it had failed miserably.
Of course, Nessarose didn't know. Elphaba had known for years, caught glimpses of her mother's descent to her lowest point and the stagnation there, but the slope had been steeper after it had been just the two of them. It had been Elphaba who had kicked her ass into the first steps to getting sober. All the good that had done them now. And just one day after Nessarose's first week back home. Elphaba hated that she wasn't more surprised.
All day, she carried anger around like a burden on her back. She barked at the teacher's aide when he asked for someone besides her to answer the question for once. She growled at a student who dared to ask to borrow an eraser. She hissed at a passerby who apologized after lightly bumping into her. After a tiring day of fury, she found that she craved the solace that had been hers not two weeks before. If she was to avoid the risk of seeing Frexspar by renting out a table at the coffee shop, she could do just the same with her mother.
Boq was not at the coffee shop when she arrived. Having better things to do than memorize his schedule, she was not surprised or fazed. She ordered a coffee − black, if that girl behind the counter was unable to memorize orders any more complicated − and was just about to make her way to her usual table and pester its occupants to relinquish it when her arm was gently grabbed.
"Hey," said Fiyero. "Hey, Elphaba, right?"
She squinted. He was sitting on a stool by the counter, or more accurately casually lounging. Behind him, Glinda looked down. Elphaba frowned.
"What do you want?" She snapped.
For a split second, she thought he looked hurt that she would sound so rash but then he grinned at her as if they'd been friends for years. She hated that. Everyone who had actually been her friend for years knew better than to do that.
"Nothing," he said, "It's just Glinda thinks you guys have met before."
He gestured to the girl who looked less than enthused about the whole interaction. She would not meet Elphaba's eyes, which Elphaba took as an opportunity to study her face without the backlash of making her uncomfortable. A pretty little thing, plump lips and curly golden hair that fell just the right way on her shoulders. She could see what Boq might like. She would bet anything that the girl's mother only drank from martini glasses on dinner parties every month and none in between.
"That's not what I…" Glinda protested weakly.
"I'd have remembered, I think."
Their eyes met and Glinda blinked. She had blue eyes, neither deep nor light. A rich, plain blue. Sandwiched in the middle of that glance, Fiyero leaned towards Elphaba.
"Well, do you believe in reincarnation?"
This was a debate Elphaba would have so readily had with any other person and at any other moment. For the present, she snatched her arm from his grasp, shoved her earbuds back into her ears and, without another glance at either of them, she grabbed her coffee and got to her table where she shooed its occupants away with much protestation.
She opened her bag so rashly the zips almost broke off. Pulling out her needles, she set herself to knit some shapeless scarf. Nanny said knitting calmed the soul. Elphaba told her she didn't know if she had a soul and Nanny said that in that case, she needed knitting most of them all to soothe her foolish anger. Elphaba didn't think her anger could ever be quenched. Every day added a reason for it to burn. Yesterday, it had been the thought of Frexspar stepping foot inside their home to pick up Nessarose. Today, it was Melena duping her into believing their family could ever get better.
She admired her mother for leaving Frexspar, for her wits, for her disobedience. She resented her for her weaknesses, for the utter lack of care she had given her − and to some extent Nessa − past infancy. The two feelings were one and the same. She had never been asked, but she would readily admit she loved Melena. If she hadn't, then the pain would be more easily buried.
Elphaba didn't know why she still held out hope that she could ever feel relief and comfort at home. She didn't know why it mattered. Past experiences certainly did not point that way. Calling it a broken home sounded melodramatic, but the truth was that the fights between her mother and Frexspar had been an occurrence long before the separation was even brought up and that Elphaba herself had had her fair share of disagreements with the honeyed pious man. She couldn't remember a time when she had enjoyed a conversation with him. Nanny said that before Nessarose's birth, he was as loving a father as can be, considering the circumstances. She didn't remember, she didn't know that it was true.
It was the green, and it was something else. It was her inability to let him bend her to his will and his devotions. She couldn't have believed him if she had tried − and she had. She should just accept that none of the Thropps could ever be counted on, except perhaps darling Nessarose, and yet she still fanned that flame despite every evidence. It would have been so much easier to put it out. She was not looking forward to coming home to whatever sulk Melena would surely give her. Or worse, an apology.
When she looked up from her work with a stupid shallow sense of pride (another unwearable scarf she would make a point to don obnoxiously), she realized it was long past dusk and she had knitted herself well into the night. The sky outside was pitch dark through the windows and the shop was entirely empty. She checked the time on her phone and found it to be much later than the closing time Boq had enforced on her before. At the counter, Glinda was staring, elbows on the surface, her head between her palms.
As soon as Elphaba crossed her gaze, she scrambled off, pretending to busy herself with some cleaning. Elphaba squinted at the sight. Slowly, she put her needlework back into her messenger bag and stood. When she reached the stool by the counter and sat herself down, Glinda could not stop her fidgeting and looked at her with eyes widened by fear.
"Uh huh," she said nervously as if Elphaba had asked her a question that requested an urgent answer. Elphaba had no such question. Instead, she started with what she knew already.
"It's very late."
"Uh huh," said Glinda, who looked increasingly embarrassed by the second. The pink of her cheeks could not just be attributed to what Elphaba was certain was an expert makeup application.
"Fifty minutes past closing time," she insisted.
"I'm sorry," Glinda blurted out.
That took Elphaba even more by surprise, and not just because Glinda did not look like the sort of person who apologized a lot.
"Sorry for what?"
No answer came. Glinda's eyes were at her own hands clutching the counter.
"Why didn't you tell me to go?"
Glinda said nothing, only gave a little shrug after a few long seconds. Elphaba waited for an explanation that never came. Because she had to, because she didn't know where else to go, she decided to go home. Glinda's voice called out when she had her back turned and her hand was already on the glass door.
Elphaba bit back a laugh. Without glancing back, she opened the door.
"Goodnight," she replied and left.
Please leave a comment if you've read this and enjoyed it! And yes, some of the dialogue of this was cheaply pulled from Imagine Me and You. It's a big inspiration for this fic.
Chapter 5: In which Glinda has a question
Glinda's parents pay her a visit but her mind is otherwise occupied.
What Glinda wouldn't have done to throw everyone out, slam the door shut and go to bed bury herself under covers for the night. She remembered a time when she had decided for a whole month to sleep in her parents' bed just because. How much easier life was when she still lived under the Arduenna-Upland roof, a little princess of a girl. Now, her feet were aching from too much standing around and she believed she smelled like coffee all the time, despite Fiyero reassuring her to the contrary. It wouldn't be unlike him to lie to soothe her.
"Now, sweetheart, you still haven't told us about work!" Her dad beamed as if they were talking about Christmas plans or their last expensive vacation.
The apartment they so graciously rented to their own child was not big, but certainly large enough to entertain her own parents and, though Glinda never remembered offering or even agreeing to their company, her friends. They had been here for over an hour and Glinda was exhausted of their presence, and not just because the conversation has revolved around her friends much more than herself. Larena Upland adored Milla, Pfannee and Shenshen. They had been Glinda's friends for ages, having met the first day of middle school, and they had never been apart since then. Sometimes it felt to Glinda that their time spent together was more out of tradition than because they still had much in common. But they did have in common that they were young, beautiful and rich, and in college that was enough to make a friendship stick. They came and went in here whenever they wanted.
"Oh, yes, tell us about work," Pfannee smirked, leaning over the arm of the sofa with a wicked mocking look. "You haven't mentioned a thing yet. Do you like it?"
Glinda wanted to groan. She smiled instead, waving concern away.
"Of course!" She lied. "So… rewarding… to serve coffee every night. To the same crowd. I love it."
The crowd would be nothing much to think about if there wasn't in the midst of it a particular person that kept sticking out. A specific green person. Glinda hated the grasp the girl had on her without them having ever had so much as a proper conversation or having been introduced. Well, she thought, Elphaba had introduced herself plenty, hissing and complaining to a poor Glinda beginning on the job. But she had been there every day since, part of the view that was to be Glinda's lot, and whether she liked it or not, Glinda was intrigued. It wasn't every day you saw someone green, of course, but it wasn't just that. It was something else, something frightening and complicated she did not like to think about. But there was also something fascinating about long green fingers wrapping themselves around a paper cup, grabbing a pen to jot down pages of sloppy notes, toying with knitting needles all night long, slowly turning pages. That something, she enjoyed. She had tried to be discreet, at least.
Glinda did not know if she liked people. She liked company, or at least good company, but that was a matter of being part of a group, of being recognized and received. It did not mean she had to appreciate any singular person. Her relationship with Fiyero wasn't much different. She loved him, of course, because she loved being with him and being seen with him. She loved being someone's girlfriend. This particular interest in a person was new and, as all foreign things, was difficult and unpleasant to get used to.
"Darling, you look tired," her mother said.
Her father nodded, reaching over to pat her hair gently like he used to do all the time when she was little.
"Should we leave you be?"
Glinda was not tired. She was bored, which was a very distinct humor to be in, but as it happened, the two often conflated of late and she simply nodded.
"I'm eating out with Fiyero later," she said. "I just wanted to get changed and…"
"And spend time with your friends, I'm sure," Highmuster said warmly. "Call us, okay?"
They left with a hug and kisses, traitors who would have her believe they were still the ever loving parents she had known. When she closed the door and turned back to the girls, none of them were paying attention. She cleared her throat and sat back next to them. Now or never.
"Did you ever…"
Pfannee was checking her phone, Shenshen munching on some of the biscuits Glinda's mother had brought, Milla getting herself another glass of lemonade. Glinda weighed her words carefully. She wasn't used to that. She was used to opening her mouth and being listened to no matter what she said.
She had Shenshen's disinterested attention, at least. Glinda took a big breath. This wasn't a big deal. It was a passing thought just this week, and it would be gone as soon as she got the bug out of her system. It wouldn't take much longer, she was sure.
"Did you ever… briefly, before you realized you didn't… another girl?"
Pfannee, who looked the least engrossed in whatever Glinda was saying, was the first to answer.
"Ew, gross. No."
Glinda's pulse was starting to race and she smiled politely, pretending a laugh along, but could hardly contain herself as she begged the others for their answer with her eyes. Shenshen hesitated between two bites of thin mint cookies.
"I mean, if my boyfriend wanted something fun, I guess… Like a threeway or something? Is that what you mean?"
Glinda did not know what she meant. She did not know what she felt. Her confusion was misinterpreted and Pfannee leaned over to flick her cheek.
"Hey, you're the prude one, forgive us for living a little."
Shenshen snorted and even Milla was amused.
"I'm not a prude," Glinda retorted. "It's not about that, I just…"
"Keep yourself pure till marriage, yeah yeah," Shenshen waved the idea away as if she had heard it a hundred times. That was grand, considering Glinda talked about bedroom matters as little as possible and only when prompted. "One day, you're going to hop on just the right di…"
"That's enough!" Glinda cut her in horror. "In fact, that's too much. Milla, how about you?
Milla gave an apologetic shrug.
"Sorry, er. I… like men. A lot."
At that, Pfannee's focus was off Glinda and she honed in on poor Milla. Glinda was much relieved.
"Oh, you do, don't you?"
It was Milla's turn to be embarrassed. Toying with the hem of her skirt, she pretended to ignore their friend but still threw her a sideways glance when she talked again.
"I was wondering…" She said, addressing Glinda.
"That guy at the coffee shop who works with you…"
"It's Boq," Milla said with an automation that Glinda hardly believed. She didn't remember having ever talked about him with her. In fact, she was certain she had never talked about him with anyone. "Is he single?"
Shenshen and Pfannee snorted and nudged at each other. It had always been in the dynamics of the group that, four friends they might be, but these two were a pair before all.
"Don't be like this," Milla replied, trying to ignore them. "Not everybody has found Mr Perfect like you yet…"
Glinda sighed. Her parents were one thing, her friends another, but it was all too much for her. She wanted to be by herself and the next best option was being with Fiyero.
"Well, speaking of."
She stood up, grabbing her friends' coats from the back of the couch they had dropped them on. None of them looked happy about the prospect of leaving − and indeed, who would want to leave this comfortable beautiful place? Glinda could not blame them − but they took the hint readily.
"Fiyero taking you out, then?" Shenshen asked, rearranging her hair in the mirror by the door.
Glinda opened the door to the hallway to let them out. Her date with Fiyero was not for another hour but she wanted her time for herself till then. Time to sort through her thoughts.
"I'm taking him out," she replied.
"Oh, how very perfect of you," Pfannee snickered and Glinda could only close the door on her.
Dinner was perfect enough, no matter what anyone had to say on it. At least, there was Fiyero, even with everything else happening. Glinda loved him with all her heart, because he was perfect and was there for her. They had met in high school. He was an exchange student who never left. Joined the soccer team and the art program − was prolific at the former and awful at the latter, but enjoyed them equally. His skills earned him a scholarship for the same college education Glinda's parents gifted her and some inheritance paid the rest. Fiyero's family was few and far between, and how many few were left didn't live in America. They had been something of a big name, Glinda knew, though she knew no more than just that. It was enough to put him in her parents' good graces.
"Are you okay?" He asked and Glinda realized she had zoned out. She didn't know for how long, but Fiyero simply smiled and grabbed her hand. "Everything alright?"
"Yes," she sighed, locking her concerns away to handle on her own later − or ideally never at all. "Yes, just tired. How was your day then, darling?"
"Great, actually," he said, happy to branch into his own affairs. "I tried to visit at the shop but you weren't there…"
"Thank god," Glinda replied, squeezing his hand, "I didn't have a shift today."
"Well, I didn't know that," he smiled. "I talked with that dude, Boq, and I told him about my job and he says he'd love to work out with me."
That was much more talk about that boy than Glinda needed, but she did love Fiyero and wanted to listen to him and care about whatever he had to say, so she smiled. It wasn't her fault that Fiyero's interest were not always in line with her own. He was a personal workout trainer as a sidejob. Glinda hoped never to work out in her life.
"I'm sure he would need a workout," she grinned into her glass and Fiyero laughed.
There was an ease that came with being around Fiyero that she had always appreciated. She did like to impress him and be of interest to him, but there wasn't the competition that reigned over most of her other human interactions. She didn't have to think too hard. Fiyero was as he was and that was it. When she remembered the foolish thoughts that had been plaguing her idle moments the past couple weeks, she couldn't even believe herself. She smiled and enjoyed her date with her boyfriend.
Hey! Please don't forget to leave a comment!
Chapter 6: In which Boq is fretting
Boq sees peen and panics I guess
Glinda was still mightily ignoring Boq as much as she could, but for once Boq was grateful for it. Every time she accidentally happened to look his way, he felt a punch in the gut, right in the guilty part of him, and he averted her eyes. She was Fiyero's girlfriend. He was Fiyero's workout buddy, Fiyero's nothing, and yet…
"Now, Biq," Tibbett said teasingly. He had adopted the careless name Glinda still often mistakenly used despite many corrections and Boq could well have done without either of them calling him so. "What's wrong with you today? Not in the mood to talk to your best friend?"
"You have never been my best friend," Boq retorted, prompting a faked display of shock and disappointment from Tibbett, clutching his invisible pearls. "I'm working, that's all. Can I not focus on work in peace?"
As if work was what made him ignore him. As if work was he was thinking about. As if work had any importance at all anymore. Glinda did her things, some of which involving helping out with the shop, but the rare obligatory words towards one another to relay orders or make the shop run smoothly were enough for him to panic. Some things were never meant to happen the way they did.
"The milk thing is broken again," Glinda said, cutting the unpleasant conversation Tibbett had been forcing onto him. "I don't know how to fix it."
Despite the address making him squirm, Boq was glad for the distraction. The milk steamer was failing them again, a lack of proper care and investment on part of the management. Boq gave Tibbett one last glare before trying to save the poor frothing wand from its own demise. He had barely touched the damn cylinder that his own mind brought him back to the memory he was trying so ardently to ignore.
So he had made a mistake and accepted Fiyero's offer to work out together. It had been thrown randomly, most likely without any real intent behind it, but as soon as the words had left Fiyero's mouth, Boq had caught onto them for his dear life. The next day, Fiyero had showed up at the shop and picked him up for the gym and the rest was stupid history. Boq was not made for working out. He was not made for exercise and sweating and his body gave way in a matter of minutes, but Fiyero pushed and pushed and Boq didn't want to disappoint him. So he had listened and done whatever Fiyero asked of him and crawled to his bed that first night with every muscle in his body sore and aching.
He had done it again. They had met up a few more times to work out and every time was excruciating, but it felt to Boq that maybe, hopefully, things were slowly starting to get better. What was evolving positively for certain was the friendship budding between him and Fiyero, though he didn't know how much of it was due to genuine affection and how much was Fiyero being an overly friendly guy who took a liking to any new person he met.
The incident had been at the gym and Boq so wished he could never again set foot there and erase the memory of the past. Equally as much, he wanted to take up residency there and think of nothing else for the rest of his life. It was all his fault, of course, unused as he was with gym facilities. He shouldn't have expected individual shower booths when he walked in. He should have been more careful, wait for his turn. Then he might not have been crippled with this lingering guilt.
So he had walked in on an entirely naked Fiyero showering. It wasn't any new body part he'd never seen, lockers, textbooks or something. Certainly his own and more and more the past few weeks. But it was Fiyero's and it was water dripping all across his dark body, and the shape of his legs (and his butt, though Boq thought that was even more shameful than the rest) and the funny helmet his hair made when it was wet and it was an entrancing secret that Boq had been led into without meaning. He had frozen into place, of course, struck by lightning, taking root into this new land of lust and desire, and still Fiyero lived his life as if nothing had happened. A grin, that was all Boq had received in exchange for his whole world turned upside down. A grin and a gesture that the shower was free and Fiyero, water pearling across his skin, had toweled himself dry and thrown on a new shirt and his shorts so carelessly, as if nothing really mattered, as if Boq wasn't gaping and sweating at his sight.
"Oh, hey baby," he heard Glinda say and he couldn't be stupid enough to not know who she was talking to. He wanted to see Fiyero again. And again and again, except he never wanted to see him, he had seen him enough. He frowned at the milk frother that would not unclog.
"Hey," Fiyero replied with some hesitation. "But I'm here for Boq. We got our run after your shift, right bud?"
Boq pressed the button once too hard and hot steam came out of the wand, burning his hand and he yelped. Just like him to mess up something like that.
"Yeah," he sighed. "Yeah, of course."
He would not look at Fiyero, not yet. The end of his shift would come soon enough and Boq would keep his guilty thoughts to himself for the rest of it, and his entire life too. That was the plan. But the best laid plans… They went for a run and Boq was lagging behind. He would be embarrassed about how bad he was at it if it weren't for Fiyero. Fiyero who matched his speed as best he could, who kept him distracted with stupid jokes and mindless conversation, who looked like a god of love out of myths and tales. Boq could have stared at him for hours, and if his snail speed was in some small way due to the sight that lagging behind offered him, then that was yet another guilty secret to keep.
"You look exhausted," Fiyero said eventually, "Let's call it a day. My place is just a couple blocks away."
Fiyero's apartment was clean and orderly. Quite up a high building, he made Boq climb the stairs and by the time they reached the eighth floor, he was soaking in sweat and panting. Fiyero looked the same as always, opening the door to Boq and checking his watch.
"Not bad!" He said. "Better than last time. You're gonna be an athlete some day!"
Boq didn't know if he wanted to laugh or to cry. His back was entirely drenched, his hair curling with the wetness and he could not seem to catch his breath. He was afraid to sit and make a sweaty mess of the couch but Fiyero threw a towel his way before he could make any such decision.
"Bathroom's over there," he gestured. "Got spare shirts too in the top drawer. Suit yourself."
The bathroom was spacious and smelled of pine tree. Boq glanced around the room and realized that he did not see anything that indicated that Glinda had ever so much as spent time here. No makeup trays or hair styling products beyond the ones Fiyero himself must have used, and all the colognes and gels showed scents more masculine than the other. No wonder Boq felt so intoxicated in Fiyero's presence, but it did make him wonder. Glinda looked so perfectly pristine at all times. He couldn't imagine her morning routine under an hour of time or involving less than a dozen products. He didn't know why that was even a concern of his. Glinda and Fiyero's relationship was a particular interest, as of late. Maybe he liked to torture himself.
The showers since the incident had been much more eventful than they used to. At Fiyero's place, however, Boq attempted everything in his control to make the experience as tame as possible even with the still fresh memories of a running Fiyero with muscles rippling and a trickle of sweat down his back and his calves and… If his skin was prickling from the cold water afterwards, then that was all for a good cause. There had been quite enough of shower interruptions so far and he wouldn't have wanted Fiyero to instigate another one and find Boq in his thoughts. His very active thoughts. Quietly, obediently, he took a shower and cut it short as early as he could. Fiyero's spare shirt was much too large for him and made Boq feel warmer than the exercise had. In the living room, he was waiting for him.
"Do you wanna watch something? Whatever you want, I guess. I got Netflix."
He pulled a laptop from a shelf, already opening it and letting Boq browse freely. Boq was not especially in the mood for anything, or at least any TV show in particular, but he did give it a look only for the smile Fiyero gave him. He had barely scrolled down a little when the nagging thought came back to him. He looked at Fiyero, deeply engrossed in picking something from his fridge. The muscles at his back were tensing with him leaning down. Boq gulped.
"Hey, erm… I was wondering if maybe… I know it's not of my business…"
"Mmh?" Fiyero perked up from the fridge.
"I just… Does Glinda live here?"
Fiyero gave a funny sound then, something between a laugh and a sigh. It would have been comical if Boq had not been so intrigued.
"Hell no," Fiyero replied, making his way back to the couch with two cans of soda and a bag of chips. "She… doesn't come here. And I don't go to her place either, really. She's got her home and I got mine."
"But how do you…" Boq blurted out. "I'm sorry, that's so stupid to ask, I shouldn't…"
"We don't. I shouldn't tell you either, but you're Glinda's friend, I guess it's fine. She wants to wait till marriage."
Boq was not Glinda's friend by any measure, but he nodded.
"I mean, it's not up to me, isn't it?" Fiyero said. "She's a great girl, anyway. We've been together for what, three years now. I've waited that long, I'll wait longer."
"Are her parents like, really strict or…"
Fiyero waved that line of thought away. He had such nice, strong hands. Boq blinked.
"It's not her parents," he explained. "It's her, she's just… Hey, man, how about that show?"
They set up Netflix but Boq didn't even know what they were watching. He had picked something at random and though his eyes were technically on the screen, they were not seeing anything. Fiyero stretched and when he leaned back, his arm was on the back of the sofa just behind Boq, in contact with the back of his head, like it was nothing at all. Nothing ever seemed to bother Fiyero. Nothing seemed to faze him.
"How about you?" Fiyero asked and Boq was at a loss on what to reply. "Are you seeing someone?"
Boq was a romantic. He wanted it all, the chocolates and the flowers and the spaghetti sharing and the long strolls on the beach. That, though he didn't shout it to the rooftops, was not a secret either. His friends knew and would occasionally tease him on such inclinations. The real hidden desire was that he had always wanted to be the recipient of such attentions. He had not had that luck so far. Sometimes, he felt like he never would.
Boq didn't know if he was gay. He knew he was not not-gay but there had been times in his life he felt inclined towards girls or women. Thinking back on those times, they didn't seem as vivid or as important as his crushes on boys. And even those faded in comparison to the tightening in his stomach at the sight of Fiyero.
"No. There's no one," he told the specific someone who was in his thoughts every day for the past few weeks.
"Aww," Fiyero playfully punched his shoulder. "It's only a matter of time, bud. You're a total catch."
He wrapped his arm half on the back of the couch, half around Boq's shoulders as they hung out, watching some mindless TV and chatting over all and nothing. Boq desperately wanted, craved to nestle into his side, to touch so much more skin than the tiny spots of contact that left him feeling electric and buzzing. He didn't, of course. He remained perfectly still. Fiyero was wrong, he thought. He wasn't a catch. He was caught.
Chapter 7: 7: In which Elphaba has a fight
Elphaba does not even attempt to be discreet at arguing in public.
In an almost empty shop, it took nothing for Glinda to hear them. In a busy shop, it might not have been much harder. Elphaba was arguing with a girl at their table for the entire coffee shop to hear and try as she might (and she was not trying at all), Glinda could not help overhearing.
"You were there yourself, may I remind you?" The girl was saying. She had auburn hair and very pink cheeks. "Dad took us all on mission before. You were there."
She was sitting across from Elphaba, a school bag at the foot of her chair that Elphaba had carried for her. Glinda had taken a moment to notice at first, not just because her eyes kept getting drawn to the green girl opposite her but also because the other girl's pretty childish face was a distraction from her shape, but the arms that were now clutching her cup of hot lemon tea were as fake as Elphaba's patience with her. They had been in deep − and loud − conversation for the past thirty minutes with no sign of respite. All topics seemed to have had their share of discussion, but the latest one, religion, seemed to be the prickliest on both sides.
"Only because I had to! Nessie, we were children."
"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of…"
Elphaba's hand clutched her paper coffee cup so tight it threatened to give way and launch a coffee explosion. Seemingly realizing the impeding doom, she pushed it aside. It did nothing to quench the anger, however. Her now free hands were gesturing furiously.
"Oh, fuck that, alright? Fuck all of that. You know he took us to the missions to make himself look in more misery than he was, to pretend that he knew what these people's trauma was like in any way, just because he had his ugly green daughter and because you… because you were…"
The girl cocked an eyebrow, as if daring Elphaba to finish the sentence. The bet was not met and for a while, Glinda thought the argument had come to an end. She was almost resigned to find something useful to do around the shop when Elphaba spoke again. Her voice was softer but she looked to be putting every effort in to try to make it so. Across the shop, a couple left with a wary look, as if they couldn't take another burst and wanted to leave on a good note.
"It shouldn't have been that way. Mom hated it there, that's when she began to…" But Elphaba stopped herself quite on her own then and her shoulders were shaking with anger. Glinda thought she ought to look away and let them have their fight on their own. She hardly even knew what they were talking about, not exactly. This girl − Nessie, whom she assumed was family − certainly did not look like she had any desire for airing her dirty laundry in a coffee shop.
"Is there anything that Mom doesn't hate? For starters, she hates God."
This wasn't dirty laundry. It was the filthiest pile of trash that could hardly be called laundry at all. Another pair left the shop. Glinda grabbed a towel and slowly started to wipe washed cups, pretending to be busy.
"Sometimes, I don't even know how I love you," Elphaba hissed. "Melena has done nothing but try and support you and this is how you…"
"Mom is a sinner, as we all are, but with Dad's help, I've been praying for her soul to be saved. She might reach redemption some day, despite all my doubts."
"Very well!" Elphaba shouted and got angry glances from customers trying to enjoy their peaceful autumn afternoon. She grabbed Nessie's bag from the floor, fixed it at her back, a delicate and careful gesture that did not match her voice in any way, and pulled the girl to her feet. "You've won, you can go back home and pray holy Mary or whatever it is you want! Pray for my soul while we're at it!"
"Elphie, is this really what you…"
"Go to church for all I care!" Elphaba cut her.
Nessie looked shocked and offended, but did not seem inclined to make the argument last any longer than it already had. Her walk was a wonder of graceful balance as she made her way out of the shop without a glance back.
Elphaba's hands were shaking when she pulled up her messenger back, grabbing something from it which Glinda soon recognized as needlework. She hesitated but, looking around and seeing only two other tables occupied and one of them by a student packing his things, about to leave, she thought it would not be a big deal to join Elphaba. It was only the polite thing to do.
"Hey, erm…" Glinda dropped a cautious hand to the table, not sure how close would be too close.
"What?!" Elphaba spat out.
She looked up, glaring. Noticing Glinda, her gaze softened ever so slightly, but she was still frowning and grunted in acknowledgment of Glinda's presence.
"Are you… Are you two okay?"
"What's that to you?!"
Glinda must have shown something on her face that made Elphaba's anger recede. She whipped up a few stitches, realized a mistake and undid an entire row. Glinda waited and was only addressed without even a glance up. So much for politeness.
"Are you going to let me stay forty minutes past closing time again?" She asked, eyes on her work.
Glinda gave her a smile that remained unobserved.
"Do you want to stay forty minutes past closing time?" She teased and Elphaba snorted, counting and recounting her row but not saying a word.
Glinda had not been used to her conversation being ignored so, or at least not from the likes of Elphaba's. Not quite sure if she ought to take the hint thrown her way full force, she decided against it. If Elphaba was going to be quite the rude conversation partner, that didn't mean she had to forget her good graces. She had been raised better than that.
"That girl," she said cautiously and Elphaba's frown deepened. "Is that your sister?"
"The one and only," Elphaba replied cynically. "You have just met Nessarose Thropp."
Thropp. The name was a burst right out the lips, a pop of anger and bite. It was Elphaba. Elphaba Thropp.
"Do you think you'll… I mean, are you gonna make up?"
At that, Elphaba looked up and Glinda took that as permission to sit on the seat Nessarose had left empty just a moment prior. She was incredulous.
"Of course we're gonna make up. She's my sister. I love her to hell and back." She sighed. "Literally, if you believe her."
That, Glinda had heard a bit about. She had no opinion on it, though she was certain Elphaba must.
"What was that she was talking about?"
There was a question in Elphaba's eyes. Whatever answer she was looking for, she seemed to find. She nodded, dropping her knitting needles to the table and leaning her chin on folded hands.
"Are you asking for my life's story?" There was a hint of a smile behind her thin lips.
Yes please. In the corner of her eye, Glinda noticed the last customers leaving. Her cheeks felt very warm all of a sudden and she saw the color of Elphaba's eyes for the first time. They were black. They were handsome.
"Maybe?" She tried. The smile turned into a smirk. "Yes."
"And what makes you think you have the right to know it?"
Glinda had no answer to that. Outside, night was starting to fall, earlier every day now.
"I want to."
Elphaba scrutinized her. Glinda had always been in pleasant company where it was forbidden to stare. She had been looked at before. Tonight, she felt seen.
"My dad's a missionary," she said slowly. "My sister is a bigot. My Nanny is a tyrant. My mom is a mess. I'm the ugly green duck."
"That's hardly a story," Glinda tried to joke. "Those are just descriptions."
Elphaba shrugged. She checked the inside of her coffee cup and, finding it still half full, chugged it down. It must have been cold, Glinda thought.
"Any story you can imagine with those pawns in motion," Elphaba said, "probably did happen at some point or another."
There was a calm to her that did not seem to fit the earlier fury she had seemed in.
"But… But you seemed so upset… How are you going to make up with her?"
Elphaba was leaning back against her chair, playing with the feet of it, careless. Glinda wondered how such one person could contain the tight anger she had witnessed earlier and a playfulness discussing such things.
"The question, Glinda," she said and Glinda felt a tug in her stomach being addressed so explicitly, "would be how could I not make up with her? I always have, always will."
Glinda had grown up an only child. She had only ever known her parents and, cursed as they were now, they had doted on her endlessly and she could hardly remember any fight of importance in her childhood or youth. That was what had made her parents' decision to cut off their support impossible to accept. Looking at Elphaba now and the intensity of just one family fight, Glinda thought she understood why the girl seemed so rough around the edges − and in between too.
"That's you and your sister, then. But you said your mother was…"
Elphaba's demeanor changed entirely. The feet of her chair clanged back on the floor and her smile disappeared.
"That's an extra level of friendship you haven't unlocked yet," she said dryly. "Insert coin for more."
"Or rather, don't," Elphaba said. "Story time's over, goodnight. Sorry to leave you here alone. I know you like company."
She grabbed the varsity jacket at the back of her chair − it made Glinda wonder if she had been part of a sports team and what that would be − and her bag. Her steps to the door were brisk and hurried. She was already pushing on it by the time Glinda even realized she'd been left alone.
"Goodnight!" She exclaimed. "And thank you…"
The last words had been unheard. Glinda closed the shop in silence and went home thinking of sisters.
Chapter 8: In which the ball gets rolling
Boq hangs out at Fiyero's again.
It took the Thropp sisters a few days to reappear at the coffee shop, not that Boq had been partial one way or another. Elphaba was much to handle even on a good day and Boq felt like his days were such an intrinsic mix of bliss and damnation that he could not even determine if he had had a good day in a while.
Fiyero was constantly in his thoughts. If seeing him whole and bare in the shower had not been enough, if that cursed memory was not enough, then there would be the insufferable kindness that he kept paying Boq. The worst offenders by far were the now common but ever so casual compliments Fiyero had taken to paying him. Nobody's out of your league if you truly believe in yourself, Boq. You're better than any random douche from the frats, Boq. You're smart and funny and any girl would be lucky to be with you, Boq. Every workout session, which were becoming increasingly more frequent, it seemed to him, were an occasion to encourage Boq not just to get into shape but also to find confidence in himself. If Boq was not careful, he could almost believe him.
He was being careful, however. Especially around other people, especially around Glinda, he let nothing show. She hardly talked to him but he made sure to never mention Fiyero in front of her. Even less, he could not let Elphaba know any of it.
"What happens behind closed doors is not my problem," Elphaba announced as she walked in carrying Nessarose's things that afternoon.
Boq's blood turned cold and his temple was aching with the sudden head rush of anxiety. She didn't know, she couldn't know. There was nothing to know in the first place, nothing but his own heart and lust and desires, but he didn't wear those on his face. Boq had never even told Elphaba that he was gay, or not straight, or whatever he was. Elphaba had never asked, though there had been instances of her language being much more elusive than needed when talking about his potential options. Explaining himself for sure in clear words was out of the question, of course, so he had settled for that zone of uncertainty around her. If she suspected, she didn't care enough to know for sure and that was fine by him.
"Oh, is that so?" Nessarose replied, indignant. "Is it really none of your business when our mother throws us out of our own house?"
Elphaba shrugged, walking up to the counter and nodding at Boq in acknowledgment of his presence. She gestured him to prepare her the usual and brought Nessarose's bag to their table. Nessarose was lingering by the counter and if Boq knew anything at all, he would have bet that the pink of her cheeks wasn't just from her natural complexion.
"Hello, Boq," she said gingerly. "How are you?"
Boq had known Elphaba since childhood and even back then, wherever Nessarose went, there Elphaba went also. It had been over a month since Nessarose had been back from the mission field and Boq had seen her at Elphaba's side more often than not. He was glad to see her in the same way you were glad to see how much a little cousin from your extended family had grown since the last family reunion. Nessarose seemed glad to see him in the same way you meet your long lost love after trials and tribulations and are reunited for a luxury wedding in great style. Boq had been aware of that since childhood and uncomfortable with it since just as long. He put up with it as he must. It was a luck, he supposed, that Nessarose did not have fingers to twirl her lovely auburn hair around.
"I'm great, Nessa, thank you. What'll it be? Pumpkin spice again?"
She giggled. It was a strange sound, not in how it came out but from the person who let it slip. When they were little − littler, in his case − Elphaba and him used to whisper in secrets that Nessarose did not know what humor was, that she was born without the part of the brain that told jokes. Elphaba had gone on to study natural sciences. Sometimes, he wondered if her study of her sister had been a part of it. Nessarose did seem like a whole specimen.
"You know me so well," she smiled and cautiously grabbed the latte he offered, tucking it between metal palms just right, leaving Elphaba to handle her own drink on her own time. Elphie smirked at him when she reached the counter, his discomfort not lost on her, but with Nessarose in hearing reach, there was nothing to be said.
"You'll be glad to know, little Boq, that we've been sexiled," she whispered, pretending not to notice Nessarose's indignant huff behind her.
Boq almost dropped the americano he was handing her.
"What the… How…"
Elphaba raised suggestive eyebrows, grabbing the coffee and gulping down a sip that must have been boiling.
"Melena has company this afternoon. She kindly let me know to take Nessie out. My dear sister is not taking it too well."
"I'm not taking anything bad at all," Nessarose protested from her table, which prompted another funny glance from Elphaba. "I'm not judging her," she added, her voice dripping with judgment. "I'm just saying that the Lord sees our misdeeds whether the doors are locked or not."
That threw Boq into silence. Suddenly the conversation lost all interest to him. Grabbing Elphaba's cash, he gave her back her change without a word and decided that it was high time to tackle the important task of descaling the coffee machine.
"Well, I'm sorry you're upset. There, I've said it, and don't make me take it back."
Elphaba doted on Nessarose, of course. Her love was a tough one, although not near as harsh as the kind she handed to Boq and her other friends. One day they were sworn enemies, the next Elphaba was back to being Nessarose's handmaiden, or rather her valiant knight. Boq, whose siblings were numerous and all much older than him, didn't know what that was like. He wasn't used to the closeness of a dear sibling, or to that of an intimate friend either. Boq only knew the camaraderie of the thin line between acquaintances and friends that he seemed to toy with everyone. If anything, Elphaba was the exception, but expecting anything tender or fraternal from her would have been foolish.
"I'm not upset," Nessarose insisted. "I'm surprised, perhaps. Disappointed. If she thinks she can outrun the consequences of her recklessness…"
Boq turned away and tried to ignore their conversation for the next couple of hours.
He and Fiyero met up at his apartment again that night. At Fiyero's suggestion, they had visited the gym less often since that first time he brought him home. He said that the gym was his place of work and that this was all play. And indeed, their workouts were intercut with just hanging out, watching whatever Fiyero offered. He also had an impressive collection of video games. They played occasionally. Fiyero wasn't a sore loser, but also wasn't a loser at all most of the times. Boq lost to him gracefully, willingly.
"Now, come on, I want to see that back sweat!" Fiyero said, urging on a Boq whose back was most certainly sweating already.
Fiyero had pushed on him a method of alternating exercises every three minutes without a pause, starting easy and jumping to much harder exercises as they went. He said it kept you on alert, and what would he do in the jungle if a leopard was suddenly on him? Boq had retorted that he had no intention of finding himself in a jungle but Fiyero had simply laughed and pretended to launch an attack on Boq that had left him breathless and not just from laughter. If push-ups weren't already hard enough, they were impossible when every vein of his body was pulsing with the memory of tickling fingers at his waist and a deep chuckle he could never get sick of.
"I'm… I'm trying…" He sighed.
"Not good enough!" Fiyero said, though his voice was warm with mirth and he crouched by Boq to look at him teasingly. Boq had never liked being teased before. Before.
"How much longer?"
Fiyero checked the phone he was clutching and gave Boq a wicked grin.
"You're two minutes over time," he said. "Good job, you did it."
Boq's body tumbled down against the flooring, his limbs completely useless now. It felt like hours ago they had started, yet at the same time, every minute spent with Fiyero went by in a flicker of time. There was a heavy pat at his shoulder that sent him groaning into the wooden floor underneath.
"Go take a shower," Fiyero ordered. "I'm getting us some pizza for later. Wanna watch some Walking Dead?"
Boq could barely muster a whimper of a positive reply but took the hand that was offered to pull him to his feet. He almost limped to the bathroom, closing it shut behind him. Lukewarm water worked wonders on his sore body, just warm enough that it released him of the exhaustion and made him feel alive again, but cold enough that his inclinations were showered down. He could forget everything in here. He could hardly even remember Fiyero's hand at his shoulder, Fiyero smiling when he spotted him in the crowded shop, Fiyero playfully punching his arm, Fiyero's hair and Fiyero's grin and Fiyero's fingers and…
The door to the bathroom opened and Boq squealed as if the water had been turned boiling hot.
"I'm not done yet!"
Through the foggy glass door of the shower, he could see Fiyero leaning against the sink casually, looking at him. Even through the blur, Boq saw his dark eyes all so clearly, the way they were roaming his body. He wanted to cover himself but his arms had stopped working at some point during the fifth and sixth series of exercises. He wanted to run away but his legs were stuck. He wondered if Fiyero could hear the pounding of his heart. It sounded deafening to him.
"Mind if I join in?"
Boq pretended a laugh because this could not possibly be anything other than a joke, a cruel prank, but Fiyero's gaze kept steady, unusually serious, and he stopped laughing. Air seemed to pause all around him and he could hardly recognize the peep of a voice that came out of his mouth.
A trail of discarded clothes on the bathroom floor, Fiyero made his way to the shower in two large steps. Boq's hands were shaking and he was lucky Fiyero opened the door on his own. He did not trust himself with that at all. He did not trust himself with anything. The door closed behind Fiyero with a clang and the water running down their bodies was hot and steaming.
Chapter 9: In which the coffee machine is broken
Elphaba helps Glinda fix the coffee machine.
For near as the first time of her life, Glinda had much to think about with regards to her relationship with Fiyero. With so much to think about besides him, she did not care much for that change. This wasn't supposed to be how it happened with him.
Fiyero had always been a stable element in her life. It was the reason she liked him so much, the reason she loved him. He was kind and fun to be around and he was ever the same. They had met at sports practice in high school. He played soccer and she played volleyball. Due to budget allocations, their teams had to share the gym hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he had gotten into the habit of walking her home for her safety. It had made sense to ask him out, to be at his side since. He made jokes and she laughed at them. She dressed pretty and he complimented her. Not one moment with him was dull, but it also never left the frame of her expectations. She had not expected him to be all thinking.
She wasn't sure when it had begun. Perhaps that was her biggest mistake, never imagining that Fiyero might change. Neglecting him, if ever he needed maintenance. In any case, Fiyero had indeed changed, not brusquely enough that she had the right to interrogate him, but not subtly enough that it was lost on her. It had been a few times of meeting up with him and finding him more distracted than usual. She asked him what was wrong, as any girlfriend should, but he brushed her off and veered the conversation into some funny story or asked about news from her own life. And there as well, Glinda was at a loss. What else was new except the terrible green evidence?
Her mind was increasingly plagued by thoughts of Elphaba, more and more random and even when the girl wasn't in her sight. At night hanging out at her apartment on her own, in any particularly dull class, whenever she was at a mindless task and could let her imagination wander and of course, the biggest crime scene, at work. Glinda had not known that one could become so interested in another person to this point. She had never felt like this and did not like it one bit. She was someone's daughter, someone's girlfriend, everybody's friend, and yet her impetuous mind kept bringing her back to one particular skinny leaf of a woman who would have nothing to do with her. They had not talked for days and Glinda did not know why she missed the raspy, scratchy voice of Elphaba Thropp. She did not know why the name kept making appearances in her thoughts.
Glinda knew better than to ask questions again, of course. Inquiring her friends had been her first mistake and she was vowing to make it her last. If they didn't know why someone might suddenly find themselves swimming in thoughts for another woman, then they were utterly useless and Glinda would not dare to ask for their help again. It couldn't possibly be… It wasn't and it wouldn't be and it had never been. It was a particular interest that Glinda could not decipher but it was something to be lassoed and brought down and tamed.
Someone behind her cleared her throat and Glinda hated the part of herself that recognized that sound. She had heard it used mockingly against Boq, against those two horrible boys that seemed to make this place their second home whenever Boq was working, she had even heard it carefully used to catch her sister's attention. She hated the part of herself that had longed for it since school hours were over today. And the day before. And the day before that.
Elphaba would not look her way and Glinda liked the opportunity to stare uninterrupted. Fingers clutching the edge of the counter, she seemed to have everything better to do than to be here and talk to her and yet. Yet here she stood.
"Just a latte, please," she said. "As many espressos as you're allowed to put in. With…"
"Almond milk?" Glinda asked with a smile that was never caught.
"Soy," Elphaba replied. "Tastes nasty but froths better."
"Right away," Glinda said and her voice sing sang in a weird way that made her want to facepalm.
She had supposedly reached a level of independence that let her be made to handle the lazy school nights on her own − she supposed that management would find every excuse to not hire extra employees. With a fidgeting Boq already plenty enough to deal with, she was glad to be on her own tonight, even if it might mean that more work on her own load equated to less time to study Elphaba Thropp. Better less and unobserved than with a fretting boy at her side. What she was not expecting, however, was for his help to be urgently needed at the moment.
"Shoot…" She let escape her lips, restraining harsher language.
The milk steamer was fussing again. It was presently spurting hot droplets of boiling water in a seemingly random pattern and would not stop even when she pressed the button.
A hand tenderly grasped hers from behind, plunging her entire body into a buzz of electricity and a green arm reached over to unplug the machine.
She had never noticed Elphaba to be so tall. She had not known her to be so meticulous. She had not expected her to be so thoughtful. Seeing Glinda struggle with the broken wand, she had crossed past the counter and was now fastidiously attempting a repair. Glinda blinked, thinking herself in a hallucination, but there was everything real about long and skinny green fingers carefully handling all parts of the machine, unscrewing here, tightening there, casting a magic that Glinda could not and would not replicate. It was a spell and the milk frother was only its secondary target. Elphaba frowning at the puzzle of the machine, tugging at parts, sighing once in frustration then another time in relief when a part gave way, and the beauty and delicateness of those fingers…
"There, I think it's do…"
Elphaba had turned around much more abruptly than Glinda had expected and they found themselves face to face with nothing but a paper cup in her hand and a small metal milk jug in Elphaba's and not a foot of distance between them. Glinda's mouth dropped open despite herself but she was out of breath. Elphaba's words died at her lips − lips that Glinda found herself staring at without meaning to, without knowing why. They were a darker shade of green, summer leaf rather than the otherwise spring growth of her skin. The tongue that briefly darted out, just a fraction of a second, wetting a dry lower lip, was as pink as any other.
"The milk is steamed," Elphaba said.
Without thinking, Glinda held up the cup. Elphaba poured hot foaming milk into espresso and the drink was exactly right. Glinda's heart was a whole parade of drums. The fingers, the ever so soft and long fingers grazed against hers as the cup passed from hand to hand and eyes would not stray from each other.
The door of the shop opened with a chime of bells and sent Elphaba leaping back on the other side of the counter as the incomer announced himself. It was − who else? − Fiyero. It was her boyfriend.
"Darling, you're… you're early."
Fiyero leaned over the counter for a kiss, which Glinda took and hoped he would not feel how flushed her cheeks seemed to her, the racing of her pulse.
"Yeah," he said, "Yeah, one of my clients desisted last minute but, listen…"
He looked unfocused again, as if he was having a conversation with her but also, much more significantly, with himself.
"What is it?"
Behind him, Elphaba had gone to her table and was staring down at her latte.
"I can't make it to your parents' Thanksgiving," he sighed. "I ran into something at work and I can't get out of it all afternoon and it'd be too late to drive there and… Glinda, I'm so sorry."
If this was supposed to be any justification as to the distance that was starting to creep between them, then it was a very poor one. She did not know what to make of it. Fiyero's family lived abroad and he had never celebrated Thanksgiving before, so her family home was the only place he had never known for the holiday. It wasn't like he was ditching her for a better one. Of course, she liked bringing him to her parents' dinner and show him off to all her cousins. The Arduennas were a large family, the Uplands even bigger, and Glinda prided herself in having the most successful relationship of her entire generation. But that had all been before these past weeks, before Fiyero's odd distraction and Glinda's own… Before whatever it was, whoever it was that was keeping her as well.
"That's okay," she said, reaching over to hold his hand, interlacing their fingers. His fingers were rougher, larger, covering her entire hand when she held it. "I'll just say you couldn't come. I'm sure Momsie will pack me with leftovers for the rest of the month for you."
He smiled apologetically, which soon turned much more genuine and his eyes now glistened with something like cleverness.
"That doesn't mean you should go alone! Bring a friend."
Glinda had to chuckle at the very idea.
"I don't think any of them would like to come. Shenshen is spending hers at Pfannee's family and Milla took a flight home this morning."
"Someone else, then," Fiyero said, thinking hard on it. Immediately, horrifyingly, he turned his head around and addressed Elphaba. "Hey, are you free for Thanksgiving?"
"What?" Elphaba replied.
"What?!" Glinda echoed. "Fiyero, I've told you it's…"
"Come on, babe, you can't be all on your own without a plus one! You're friends with Elphaba, right? Boq told me you guys were chatting and all."
Elphaba looked like she might have wanted to strangle the absentee Boq's neck, but said nothing, looking at Glinda expectantly. It was too late, wasn't it? It would be much too impolite to rescind an offer once it had been made, even if it had not been by her.
"I mean, you probably have your own family dinner to attend and I wouldn't want you to…"
Elphaba cut her.
"I'd much rather skip it, to be honest."
She looked surprised at her own self. Glinda felt something creep inside her, twirl in her stomach. She wanted to play with her hair, to fix her lipstick, to find something to hide her embarrassment. In the absence of that, she squeezed Fiyero's hand. It wasn't the same.
"Would you like to come with me, then?"
Elphaba stared for a few long seconds during which Glinda feared she might run out of the shop and disappear forever.
Fiyero's face broke into a grin.
"Well, that's settled, thank God!"
All evening, Glinda tossed and tossed in her pretty little canopy bed. She almost believed that if she focused hard enough, her fingers would remember exactly the feel of a soft hand on hers, that she would relive the moment when a shadow was cast from behind her back and an arm reached around her, almost an embrace except nothing like an embrace, not at all enough to qualify as such. She thought of Thanksgiving in just a couple days time, of the prospect of possibly sharing a room with Elphaba.
"Oh, fuck it," she sighed against all odds.
She jumped to her feet and closed the curtains at her bedroom's windows tight. Shimmying out of her pajama shorts, she went back to bed and, much later, to sleep.
Chapter 10: In which Elphaba spends Thanksgiving at the Uplands
Elphaba agreed to the invitation at Glinda's family Thanksgiving.
"A date? Does my daughter have a date? Tell me everything."
Elphaba swirled around like a demon had manifested itself at the frame of her door instead of her mother. With the smirk she was serving her, the resemblance was not too far fetched.
"It's not a date and there's nothing to say. You're in my room. Get out."
That was too much to ask, of course. Far from leaving Elphaba's space, Melena made herself welcome inside, sitting on the bed.
"Oh, come on, Elphie," she said. "Don't you want to share anything with your mother at all?"
"I've already told you everything you need to know. I was invited to another Thanksgiving dinner, I'm going, it's out of town, I'll be back tomorrow."
Melena sighed. Elphaba pretended not to see her. She did not like looking at her own reflection and avoided in as much as one safely could, but this morning it was all she could do, even more as she would also rather not be looking at her mother. It was stupid, of course, to imagine that she should be dressing nicely to visit Glinda's family. Chances were she would never see them again − she already thought she should not meet them in the first place. She had no idea what had even gone through her mind saying yes. Something stupid. Somehow, Glinda seemed to make her stupid more often than not. She hated it.
"You know, I'm gonna have to pull a convincing lie to tell Nanny when she asks me why you're abandoning us."
"Tell her I don't wanna see Frex. She'll believe that."
There was another sigh. Sometimes, Elphaba wondered if she did not induce some respiratory issue or allergy in people that caused those. Sighs sure seemed to happen much more frequently in her vicinity.
"You're stubborn as a mule, you know that?"
Elphaba ignored her for the sake of her reflection. She looked ridiculous, she had assessed long ago and more specifically earlier this morning, and yet she could not stop staring at herself. Was the sweater too old? She did not like the tear over her right hip but she did have any newer one. Were the jeans too casual? She had three pairs of jeans, all of them with various levels of use (she had put on the least damaged ones) and nothing else. Were the Doc Martens too obnoxious? Well, that was just like herself and she did not think she could tame that down either.
"Well, if this is how you're going to be," her mother said and pressed a kiss against her cheek on her tippy toes, "I'll find you an excuse. You look really sharp, frog."
Glinda did not share the sentiment, try as she might to deny it.
"This is what you're wearing?" She asked when they met up in front of the shop as established.
She hid her disgust well for such a snobby little thing, faking a smile that Elphaba could not have believed genuine at the best of times. It had to be said, however, that she looked quite snazzy herself. A cute striped duffle coat covered most of it, but if the navy skirt, woolen tights and heels were any indication, she had dressed up for the holiday. How strange a feeling, to be looking forward to an occasion and dress appropriately. Elphaba shrugged.
"I didn't have anything else. Are you going to drop me off at the nearest high fashion shop and pick something else for me?"
Glinda hid a giggle behind a gloved hand.
"Perhaps," she said, "if you're naughty." She gave a smile and gestured to Elphaba to her car. "No, it's fine. Just wear that sweater, it's… pretty."
Glinda's car was small and tidy, looked unused. Elphaba had a feeling that Glinda received a lot of things she didn't use.
"I know it's not much legroom," she apologized to Elphaba when she saw her hunched over in her seat, "but my parents promised me another one for my birthday. You didn't want to use yours, did you?"
"I don't have a car," Elphaba replied. Glinda was pulling out into traffic and, to Elphaba's relief, seemed to be an adequate driver. That was better than she would have been. "I don't drive."
Elphaba smiled to herself, resting her head against the window. She had been told it was a three hours drive and she had been stupid enough to not pack a book with her.
"I wanna kill most people enough as is," she said. "I don't think I should give myself the occasion."
Glinda laughed, which made Elphaba breathe out a semblance of a snort as well.
"Well then, I do intend to keep our body count to a strict zero. It's Thanksgiving, after all."
Elphaba bit back an indignant retort about Native lives and celebrations of genocide and stared out the window instead. It was Thanksgiving, after all.
City skylines gave way to forest and fields and Elphaba had Glinda roll down the windows for some fresh air. This was her curse, one of them anyway. It must have been her complexion, but Elphaba had a taste for nature, locked up in the city as she was. If only just for that, she was thankful for the trip out of town. The rest of it, she couldn’t say. It was one thing to be here with Glinda making slow and superficial conversation, but conversation nonetheless throughout the drive. It was a completely different perspective to soon be with foreign company.
Glinda’s family lived in the richer neighborhood of a middle sized town. Elphaba watched long rows of four-walled mansions run past them until, an insufferably long while later, Glinda pulled into one of the driveways. The house was gorgeous, tall and bulky, white picket fence − what else? There were several cars already parked that each looked like they had cost more than Elphaba’s apartment. Her sweater suddenly felt very scratchy, her boots tight, and the cold was not nearly as refreshing as it had been during the ride.
“Breathe,” Glinda instructed. “You look like you're gonna turn bright red.”
“That might be a more palatable alternative,” Elphaba noted dryly, but Glinda was not looking at her anymore. Her eyes were wide in awe, staring up at the blinking red and green lights covering every line of the house.
“They’re so pretty this year…”
“Isn’t is a bit early for Christmas decorations?”
Glinda gasped in horror.
“You still haven’t put up yours?!”
Elphaba thought of Nessarose, of Nanny, of the fight to come when that topic would come up. She snorted.
The polite little thing that was Glinda took her good manners from somewhere. As soon as they stepped inside, there was a room already full with various shades of blond hair and the Uplands and Arduennas they belonged to. Past the looks of shock and, she thought, horror, they all managed a decent level of courtesy when Glinda introduced her as a friend. Not one of them dropped the g word, much as her coloring must have offended their sensitivities. Glinda looked like a fish in water and all the more as the rest of the family arrived. She had a kind word for them all, basked in their compliments and conversations, and Elphaba was ever the odd one standing stiffly at her side to wait for her to pay her any mind.
"Oh, where's Fiyero, then?" A cousin asked. "Have you guys…"
Elphaba's teeth gritted against each other beyond her control.
"Oh no," Glinda said, horrified. "No, no, he just couldn't make it this year!"
Glinda waited till the crestfallen chubby boy with thick blond curls walked away to join the ocean of kids in the other room to whisper to Elphaba. Fiyero, she said, loved hanging with the kids and they loved him even more because he played video games with them and they always won.
"They're cheating, of course," she said. "Fiyero never says anything."
"Not too bright, is he?" Elphaba said.
She didn't know where that had even come from, some wicked jealous part of her. What was there to be jealous of? What was there not to be jealous of? Glinda glanced at her with a smirk.
"Look who's talking," she replied, fingers grazing against green skin at Elphaba's wrist and the touch silenced her for good. "No, he pretends he doesn't notice. It's called being polite, Miss Elphaba. I should tutor you."
Elphaba had all the time in the world to exercise her sorely lacking skills in that area. Hours of trying to dig the most forgotten, hidden parts of herself that could be, if she really wanted to, nice. Once the whole family was in attendance, spread out across what seemed like the entire mansion for lack of space in the dining room, Larena Upland announced that graces needed to be said before eating. Elphaba, in a great show of self containment, refrained from snorting. She bowed her head and grabbed the hands given to her. Glinda's hand was small and her grasp tender. It wasn't too bad to pretend being good company for the feel of that hand in hers. Elphaba frowned at the thought crossing her own mind.
Of course, dinner was in many ways easier than the introductions that had come before. Standing around Glinda, tall and foreign and green, was almost asking for stares and questions begging to be asked out loud but never passing the lips. At the table, there was a feast to devour and everybody had much better things to do than to take any ill interest in Elphaba. That was, unfortunately, including Glinda, who was deep in conversation with the person next to her, some aunt, if Elphaba had gotten that right.
Everybody was serving themselves to all the dishes decking the entire table. Elphaba was bit peckish but any dish that looked even the slightest bit promising was making her doubt. She wondered if any of this was kosher, much less vegan. She thought the cranberry sauce was most likely a good guess and there were some roasted yams that seemed like a fair bet as well, but anything else… People were talking, louder and louder. In the next room, the children were even yelling and she thought there was an argument going on.
"Elphaba, aren't you eating?"
Glinda's mother was staring at her from across the table and suddenly Glinda gasped.
"Oh my god, I forgot! Mom, Elphaba's vegan. She can't eat this."
The look Larena gave her could not have been more disapproving. There were a few looks her way by other Uplands and Elphaba frowned. Glinda's father, a short, balding white man, laughed it off.
"Are you, now? What's wrong with a good slice of turkey, eh?"
Elphaba could not keep her tongue.
"And what's wrong with a good animal slaught…"
"How about potatoes?" Glinda cut her insistently. "You can eat those, right? Mom, you didn't put anything in the potatoes, did you?"
"Only time and effort," was her reply and though her eyes spoke volumes, she said nothing more.
"There. Elphie, eat."
Elphaba couldn't remember if Glinda had ever used the nickname before. In fact, she was rather certain she never had. She munched on the huge pile of potatoes Glinda had dropped on her plate, keenly aware of the increasing amount of stares thrown her way. She missed Nanny's latkes now. For half a second, she let herself wonder if that dinner at home really would not have been better, but she only had to think of Frexspar to come back to her senses. How different an atmosphere this was, and yet entirely the same.
"Have you watched the news?" Some Arduenna was saying. "I couldn't quite believe it."
Something inside Elphaba wanted to growl. She shoveled another too large forkful of potatoes. Under the table, she felt fingers brush against her lap reassuringly. She wanted to drop her own hand under the table to hold them tight. She did not.
"Oh, you mean that new marriage law in…"
Glinda abruptly stood up, the harsh sound of her chair backing up silencing the conversing party.
"I have a headache," she announced. "I'll go lie down."
There was a compassionate look from her mother and Glinda left the room. Elphaba watched her go. It was a lucky guess, because on her way out, Glinda gave her a pronounced look and the hint of a nod towards the door. Then she was out and Elphaba was alone to fence for herself. She tried another forkful but even though everything was decently tasty, she could not eat another bite, not here alone.
"Elphaba," someone asked her, faking interest, "How about you tell us a little more about yourself?"
Elphaba stood up as well and towered over every person in assembly.
"I'll go check on Glinda."
Glinda jumped on her as soon as she closed the door behind her, clutching her arm affectionately, leaning her head against her shoulder.
"What are y…"
But Glinda pressed a fingers to her own lips, begging her to be silent. Elphaba usually hated games and pretenses but she followed Glinda up the stairs nonetheless. It was a big house with a large staircase, probably marble, some carpet covering it. She wondered if this was the only house in the family that could accommodate such a large bunch or if all other relatives had a similar mansion. She couldn't guess how many Thropp houses would fit in here.
"Now, just over here… Come on!"
Glinda opened a small door Elphaba might have missed on the top floor and pulled her through. It was an attic, piles of boxes and old furniture and dusty bookcases. Those were of interest and Elphaba would have perused them, but Glinda's hand tugging her further into the room was more convincing. She presented Elphaba with a large, deep couch that looked like it had known generations before retiring up here. Elphaba sat at the very edge, leaving as much space between her and Glinda as possible. The effort was unrewarded, as Glinda didn't sit. Rummaging through a pouch at the bottom of a shelf, she pulled out a prize triumphantly.
"I knew they wouldn't find it here!"
Living with Melena Thropp, Elphaba was no stranger to the nature of that specific “it”. Of all possible “it”s, this one was the least harmful, she would have to admit. Glinda noticed her frown and meekly hid the plastic bag behind her back, wheedling her with the most charming of smiles.
“Do you smoke?” She asked. “Do you smoke weed?”
Elphaba didn’t, but in this instant, she would, she should. There was something particular about Glinda’s pretty eyes and lips that made her feel subdued and she nodded. It was the correct answer. Glinda plopped her behind down on the couch heavily and her little fingers got to work. It was a meticulous task of grinding and patting and rolling and licking and Elphaba could hardly look away from the dexterity of such delicate pretty fingers, until Glinda looked up, produced a lighter and took the first smoke from the blunt she had just made.
"Oh, that's it…" Any tension was instantly gone from her face and she nestled deeper into the couch, smiling dully at the ceiling. "I'm sorry, by the way."
She turned to Elphaba, leaning her elbow over the back of the couch, her face resting against her arm. She looked tired. She looked beautiful.
"That they're being like this, I… You probably regret coming, there's nothing for you here and…"
"You're here," Elphaba heard herself say.
The words were a mistake as soon as they were uttered. Glinda's eyes widened and Elphaba could only assume that this was on her behalf. Reaching over, she snatched the blunt from Glinda's fingers. She coughed her first inhale out but the second passed like a charm. She would not dare to look at Glinda. A few heavy seconds later, her mind began clouding with a soft and comforting veil of slowness and she breathed deeply. Glinda took the joint back.
"I wouldn't have pegged you for a drug addict," Elphaba said.
Glinda snorted, blowing smoke in Elphaba's face.
"Maybe there's a lot of things about me that you don't know, then."
Elphaba stretched her legs. From this part of the house, they couldn't even hear the crowd downstairs. And nobody could hear them.
"Maybe I'd like to fix that."
It was a stupid curiosity, really, that made Elphaba partial to Glinda. It was reciprocity. Of course, catching people's attention was a daily occurrence but Glinda's eager enthusiasm to learn about her not as a freak show but as a person was refreshing. She wasn't used to kindness. It was easier to shield herself from all attention, when it was so much more often ill-intended than the opposite. Glinda made her want to trust.
"I know," Glinda said, a revelation. "Let's each tell the other something we've never told anyone before." She looked at Elphaba expectantly. "You go first."
If this was a joke, Glinda was a master of pretense. Elphaba cleared her throat. Most of her life would fit into the description.
"What do you want to know?"
Glinda thought about it for a while and scooted closer to her to ask it.
"Your sister? Why were you guys fighting? Something about your father?"
That was much closer to Elphaba's dark zone of insecurities than she wished, but Glinda looked so very curious, and so very cute.
"My father hates me," she sighed and Glinda's face fell in shock. "No, that's not the secret. He… Well, I've always been different, haven't I?"
She gestured at her ugly, bony green body. Rather than the nod of approval she had expected, Glinda gave her a look of concern. Her fingers found Elphaba's knotted hands at her lap and she slid her own in between, sandwiched in green. She said nothing.
"He's just… I mean, he thinks I'm… Well, we've never really been on great terms. I haven't spoken to him in a couple years."
Glinda let out a sound that might have been a squeak, or a whimper. Elphaba went on.
"My mom cheated on him like crazy," she said, not knowing why, rolling her eyes. "That's a secret for you, but everybody in the family knew. They're divorced, by the way. Maybe he thought I wasn't his, or… I don't know what it is. She's a mess. I told you that, right?"
A nod. Elphaba's heart was beating harder, though she couldn't give a reason why. Glinda's hands was still tight between hers.
"Giddy, alcoholic, imaginative, uncertain, desperate, brave, stubborn, supportive woman. She's infernal. I… I guess I love her."
Elphaba took a few big breaths. She did not like to talk about him, think about him. She did like to talk to Glinda.
"I've overshared," she said, "Now you tell me a secret."
But Glinda had nothing to say. Her eyes were widened in… interest? wonder? Or maybe embarrassment or shame? But it couldn’t be, not those soft blue eyes and not with the shy smile that came with them. All her life, Elphaba had been shirking offended stares or curious glances of disgust but she couldn’t find any of that in Glinda’s eyes. For the first time, she was enjoying looked at, she wanted to be seen.
Glinda's lips parted and Elphaba's eyes accidentally glanced down at them just in time for the darting of her tongue across the lower lip, how heavy her breath looked. If anyone thought her heartless, Elphaba would have gladly made them feel the pulsing at her wrist, her temples, shaking her entire body now. It couldn't be, it couldn't happen, but then, the fluttering of Glinda's eyes as she closed them and slowly, fatally leaned towards her and…
Glinda's phone buzzed in her pocket and Elphaba scooted back across the couch like the spot she had been sitting on was now a burning furnace. She couldn't know if Glinda had opened her eyes, if she was looking her way. She was afraid to check. Another buzz passed before Glinda answered the call.
"Oh, it's you…"
The male voice on the other side could only be Fiyero's, of course. Elphaba's hands wanted to shake and she thought she should probably run away, take a walk in the dark cold of the night, do anything other than staying here listening to Glinda chatter with her boyfriend who was checking up on her.
"No, no, you're not bothering me, I was just…"
She was crippled by a doubt worse than the absence of it all. This was worse than the solitude she dwelt in before. It was much worse than the incident at the coffee shop. Then, Elphaba had convinced herself that she had been making up the interest in Glinda's gaze. Tonight, she couldn't pretend any such thing. She sank deeper into the couch and closed her eyes.
Glinda hung up. Elphaba wanted to stand up, to get back to the bedroom she was going to be sharing with three Arduennas that night, as per the visit around she had been given. She wanted to shove her entire head into fresh snow, to yell at the moon. She was about to put one of those plans, any of them into execution, when Glinda pulled on the collar of her shirt and clashed their mouths together. It was messy and rushed and it took Elphaba seconds to realize it was happening and react to it but it was a kiss with Glinda and that itself was enough.
Elphaba had never been kissed. Oh, Nanny on the cheeks and family because she had to, but boys had run from her when she was a child and girls… Those were never an option. There had never been anyone she had wanted to kiss or at least none quite as much as lovely Glinda. Their mouths met in a clatter of confusion, desire and impatience and she tasted like weed and a sweetness just of her own. Elphaba, who had never kissed, now never wanted to do anything but. Glinda's hands were palming fistfuls of her sweater, her own found her waist, craving the way it melted into her grasp, and their mouths were desperate for each other, couldn't get enough. Their noses bumped more than once and there were some awkward noises and Elphaba was certain that she was doing everything wrong but Glinda was doing everything right for her.
She didn't want to leave the couch anymore. If she could, she would stay here in the attic for as long as they could bear, kisses forever till their everlasting rest. Glinda kissed her hard, kissed her numb, kissed her until the passion gave way to tenderness and their lips toyed with each other into smiles, breathing together, foreheads touching.
"There's your secret," Glinda whispered.
There was a knock at the door and Elphaba jumped back as far from Glinda as she could possibly manage without falling off the couch. Glinda was more clever. Her first thought was to cover up the evidence of having smoked in here, a habit that seemed well rehearsed.
"What is it?" She asked and her voice betrayed nothing of the panic Elphaba was feeling.
A small blond boy's head peeked in a sliver of an opened door.
"It's time for desserts," he said. "Auntie Larena said to ask if Glinda wanted pecan pie, because she made it special for her." He wrinkled his nose. "Eww, it smells all weird in here, did you guys fart?"
"Yes," Elphaba replied instantly.
He went off running down the stairs, laughing. Glinda and Elphaba looked at each other. Glinda was the first to smile and as she gathered a tendril of black hair and pushed it back with a caress around the lobe of her ear, Elphaba smiled back.
"I want dessert," Glinda announced.
She stood. Elphaba was in a daze. She had never been punched in the face − though she had come close a few times − but she now believed she knew the feeling.
"Well, are you coming?"
They walked down the stairs slowly, much slower than they had climbed them on their way up. It only took a few steps for Glinda's fingers to graze against hers. This time, Elphaba dared to hold onto them and she held on tight.
Chapter 11: In which Boq gets a treat
Boq gets a visit on his late night shift.
Please be aware that this chapter contains implied sexual content. There will be no explicit Boq/Fiyero smut scenes, but several Elphaba/Gelphie ones, which will be notified in the chapter notes they will be featured in.
Thanksgiving used to be Boq's favorite time of year, even above Christmas or his own birthday. It was heartier on the farm, fresh produce from the family's own vegetable garden and his mother's hugs and his dad's pats on the back, a feast for the whole family. He had not been able to go home this year. Short of staff with Glinda out to see family, management had turned to him. Boq was picking up her missed shifts and promised to call his family as soon as he got off of work.
It was a curse and a blessing to be on his own. He did not think he could have pretended being alright for a whole trip, to endure endless conversations about his life out there in the big city. Even more, he was grateful that Glinda was out. He could not even begin to formulate a plan for how he would handle her when it would come to that.
So it had happened. Though he had been thinking about it and fantasizing about it, Boq had never expected it to actually take place and now that it had, he was not equipped in the least to handle it. He couldn't as it was happening and much less after it had. It was right out of his dreams, wasn't it? Fiyero had stepped into that shower with him, and seen him and touched him and kissed him and Boq had stepped out of the shower a different man.
Of course, it had been everything he wanted. of course, it had been wonderful and passionate and hot and he had never known anything like that. Quite literally, he hadn't. This had been his first time and he could confidently say that, as far as first sexual experiences went, his had been everything he thought first times weren't. For all his own awkwardness, Fiyero had more than made up with his confidence and in his good hands, he had felt whole and tall and wanted. That had lasted just about the time of an orgasm.
He had taken another shower at home. If his obsession with Glinda had been pure fabrication from his friends, it was a reality now. Boq couldn't put a stop to the crippling shame that went with him everywhere, everywhen. Fiyero had a girlfriend. He had a stable girlfriend who was, if not Boq's friend, at least someone he knew and spent a lot of time around, and he was going to have to pretend that he did not just stab a knife in her back and spit on everything she had going.
As intense as his shame for what he had done was the fear for what he would do. Fiyero had not contacted him since the incident. Only a few days was nothing out of the ordinary, he knew, but he could smell the stink of a hint and he did not like the possible prospect of never seeing Fiyero again. He didn't know which was worse, the idea of entertaining an ongoing affair with a taken man, or the idea of having known him just the one time and never again. He was almost relieved of the prospect of not being given that choice, because he knew already that his decision would be the wrong one.
He had been lost in his thoughts ever since it had happened. The shop had been rushed all day, packed with stressed out people on their way to get one last emergency errand before their dinner at home but come night time, it had been more and more desert by the minute. Boq had not seen a customer in half an hour when the door was pushed open by the man he longed and hated to see again.
"Hey, bud," Fiyero said and if Boq didn't know any better, he would have never spotted the hidden awkwardness behind the smile. "Busy night?"
"What are you doing here?"
Fiyero sat at a stool near the counter, looking so infuriatingly casual, the same as ever.
"Happy Thanksgiving," he said quietly, warmly. "You know this is my favorite shop."
Boq would not dare to meet his eyes, of course. He couldn't without being burdened by his guilt again and his desire to go past that guilt and shame. When Fiyero did not seem to be requesting anything, he found everything useful he could manage around the shop, cleaning the counter, starting to put away the pastries for closing time which would be very soon, storing away milk and coffee beans and cups and ignoring Fiyero's eyes lingering on him as best as he could.
"We'll be closing," he said finally. "I'm sorry, I can't let you…"
"Do you wanna come over tonight? To my place?"
That took Boq so by surprise that he forgot all about his attempt to not look Fiyero in the eyes. They were beautiful eyes, especially from up close and he could not let himself think of his last occasion to see them from such a viewpoint. Dark brown, they almost looked black in the artificial bright light of the shop on a late Thanksgiving night.
"Come over?" He cocked an eyebrow. "On Thanksgiving?"
"I don't celebrate it," he said. "And it doesn't matter anyway because my family is far away. Yours too, right?"
Boq's family, at least, was far enough to not see his descent to shame. He only had to open a tiny sliver of the door to his own memory to remember the last time he had been at Fiyero's place just earlier that week. It was a terrible idea to go back there. He instantly knew he couldn't refuse the offer. It was late and he was tired and he was wanting. He nodded and the night was on.
Fiyero played with Boq's beanie on their way out, readjusting it and patting his shoulder playfully. Boq did not know how to tell him to please not do that, not because he minded it but because he really did not mind at all and that couldn't be good for anything.
"I didn't prepare anything to eat, so we'll have to get takeouts," Fiyero said. "One person frozen meals were too sad. Besides, there's two of us."
Boq thought of the one person frozen meal waiting for him in his own freezer shelf and said nothing.
"So, what do you wanna get?"
Boq knew precisely what he wanted to get, but as it had nothing to do with food, he left Fiyero in charge of that. They ended up getting some Chinese takeouts at the closest place they could find. Fiyero paid and Boq didn't know what to make of the feeling of being treated, even just to cheap takeouts. He didn't know what to say, what to do. They had never been in such quiet around each other before and if it wasn't so strikingly stressful to find himself in a situation he knew was a stain on his conscience by all measures, it would have been enjoyable. In the elevator, Fiyero's fingers brushed a curl back into the rim of Boq's beanie and he felt his face heat up at the contact. How stupid, when he had known a much more intimate kind, but he couldn't help himself.
The apartment looked nice, better than usual. Fiyero had cleaned up. Boq could only wonder if this was on his account. They ate on the couch as they had many times before. Out of a foolish sense of honor, of duty, Boq sat on the farthest edge of the sofa but Fiyero sat in the middle, well into his space, their knees and arms brushing.
"How was your night?" Fiyero asked, as friendly as he had always been but the words felt perfunctory to Boq now, only a sketch of their thus far budding friendship that had been trampled on so harshly the other day.
"I mean, it was a work night on Thanksgiving," Boq said. "How could it be?"
His chopsticks kept slipping − he didn't know why he had agreed to this takeout idea. Fiyero must be finding him ridiculous and clumsy but didn't show it as he gently grasped Boq's hand to show him the right way to hold them. Boq's hands were now trembling with another sort of inexperience.
"I worked too," Fiyero said. "At the gym. Many clients actually work out extra before and after holidays. Feeling guilty, I guess."
Boq was about to make a joke of some sort but the words never left his mouth. Seeing his hesitation, Fiyero tentatively reached over, his hand almost touching Boq's face before Boq snapped out of it and shook his head. The hand fell limp between them, not quite touching Boq's thigh.
"I hope you're not gonna make me work out on Thanksgiving," he did end up saying, though his voice sounded off even to him and the joke fell perfectly flat.
"Not unless you ask me," Fiyero smirked.
He ate another bite and his hands handled the chopsticks perfectly. His hands did everything perfectly. Boq remembered.
"Would you make me do anything if I asked you?"
Fiyero paused and put down the container to get a better look at Boq, who gulped under his gaze. His hand was now on Boq's thigh, no mistake, the thumb stroking through the fabric.
"Is there anything you want to ask me?"
Boq hated himself for how little he hesitated. He threw himself at him and Fiyero took him to bed and to bliss, and when their bodies were one and he kissed him to madness, Boq forgot all about any guilt. He clung to Fiyero's arms, his head burying back into the pillow as the world disappeared. There was nothing outside of this bed and those arms and their bodies meeting and melting into each other and he was a flame. He was burning and Fiyero alone was in charge of him, keeping him bright and hot and fuming until the passion found its natural end and Boq turned to embers and ashes. His body was heavy, pressing into the bed, immovable.
"Are you gonna fall asleep?" Fiyero teased.
He kissed Boq's shoulder, lying beside him and pulling him into a spooning embrace. The kiss traced up his neck, finding an ear, nibbling on it. Boq hid a smile into the pillow.
"I was gonna go clean up," he said. "I… I mean, I never assumed I could spend the night…"
Fiyero relinquished the embrace to let Boq out the bed. Every muscle, every inch of his body felt spent and deliciously exhausted. He was searching for his clothes when Fiyero cut him.
"Just wear a shirt of mine," he said, "or better, nothing at all."
Boq could only count himself lucky enough for that offer. As soon as the bathroom door closed behind him, he lost all his countenance and panic started to get to him. He did clean up, if only to go to bed fresh and ready for rest, but spent an indecent amount of time pouring cold water onto his face, trying to wake himself up. Stupid. Stupid, dumb, irresponsible, shameful, disgusting. And was this how his parents had raised him? He had never been sure of their opinion on gay people, but he knew for sure how they felt about cheaters. Was it worse because they were both men, or was it the same? For sure, it couldn't be less.
Fiyero was hanging up his phone when Boq got back to bed. It was brief and the timing had probably been calculated, but it was off by mere seconds and Boq caught a glimpse of his phone background. It was a picture of him and Glinda. He felt a weight on his chest and suddenly wanted nothing to do but to run out of here, but Fiyero grasped his arm so tenderly to pull him flush against him, tuck him back between his arms. Boq, in all his weakness, did not resist. He closed his eyes and pretended to sleep and all night he thought with sorrow of what he had done.
Chapter 12: In which Glinda drives
Elphaba deals with the consequences of what happened at Thanksgiving with Glinda. Who am I kidding Elphaba has never dealt with anything anywhere ever. Elphaba after Thanksgiving with Glinda avoiding consequences.
The next morning was a hazy hallucination. A dozen of Arduennas and Uplands in all parts of the house, all still more blond and white and rich than the other. Elphaba barely managed to have five minutes to herself in the bathroom, but she cleaned herself more thoroughly than she ever had before. Nothing seemed to cleanse her of the mood she was in. At the breakfast table, Glinda would not look at her but Elphaba felt a foot nudging at hers that she was sure must not be from the accountant uncle across from her.
"So, girls, are you going back today?"
Glinda gave an apologetic smile to the assembly.
"We must," she said. "Elphaba has classes tomorrow. Don't you, Elphie?"
Elphaba had no such thing, of course. What she had was free time and a desire to be wicked, but as those were unmentionable in polite company, she kept them to herself.
"Yes," she replied instead. "Yes, I have to go home."
They had not talked about the kiss. They had not talked about the conversation that had come before. After getting dessert (and thankfully, Elphaba had been treated to some roasted apples with caramel without any further fussing about ingredients), they had stayed at the table with the rest of the family, not really partaking in any conversation of their own or with others, but had shared more than a few shy glances towards one another. Bedtime had been a flurry of cousins getting excited about a sleepover and aunts and uncles taking turns in the various bathrooms, and every room of the house had had at least a few guests. That included, of course, Glinda's own and the one Elphaba had been assigned. They had hardly had the occasion for a proper goodnight, much less time to talk in earnest. Elphaba didn't know if she was relieved or pained by that.
She hadn't slept, or at least not much. Elphaba had never imagined her first kiss because she had never imagined a kiss in the first place. Not even with Glinda, cute as she had found her from the start. Now that it had happened, she found herself thinking on the good qualities a first kiss should have and found that hers checked all boxes but the one. She had thought that her future someone, who she never believed would exist in this reality and never expected to make the first move, would have been single.
At least, Elphaba had been no stranger to her own homosexual inclinations. There had never been a singular person who captured her full attention before but there had been inkling of fleeting crushes in the past, a stolen glance here, a timid memory there. She had known that, if she ever fell for someone, that person would be a woman. What she had held for absolute certainty, however, was that no one would ever reciprocate the feelings. How Glinda had surprised her, if she let herself believe that feelings were what this was about. And she clung onto that hope for her dear life.
One car full at a time, the Arduennas and Uplands left after many farewells and hugs and good words − though few of them were directed at Elphaba. She had been ignored most of the morning as they, she supposed, had realized that there was nothing to be gained in trying to make her acquaintance. Finally, after breakfast was had and what little they had brought on the trip was packed, Glinda announced they were leaving.
"Glinda, darling," Larena asked as they stepped out into a chill morning wind, tucking a curl behind Glinda's ear, "Are you sure you should be taking the wheel? You said you were unwell yesterday."
"I like it when Glinda drives."
Glinda hid her smile well at Elphaba's words, but Elphaba saw it nonetheless. Larena gave her an odd glance, but nodded nonetheless and kissed Glinda on both cheeks before letting her go. Her father offered a similar goodbye. Elphaba got handshakes, which was just as well to her taste. They got into the car and drove away. It took until they were out of her home town for Glinda to speak.
"I'm sorry," were her first words. "I'm so sorry."
Elphaba could only be surprised.
"What the hell are you sorry for?"
Glinda gestured one-handed, the other firmly on the wheel.
"That they were like this," she sighed. "They're a lot and this was a lot and… I'm sorry, I'm sure that the whole time, you just wanted to run back home and lock yourself in your room with a book or something…"
The good thing about car conversations, Elphaba thought, was that eye contact was entirely optional and in fact not preferred. The less good thing about them was that they were inescapable − unless one had a mind of steel and a body to match and simply jumped out the vehicle. She was not quite there yet.
"Not all of it was bad…"
Glinda smiled at the road. They had branched into the highway and were reaching the casual lull of traffic. Elphaba's hand was at her lap and before she noticed it, there was a hand on top of it begging to be held. Their fingers entwined, palms hugging. Glinda squeezed. Their hands stayed locked the entire ride back until Glinda had need of hers again to navigate the city.
"I'll just drop you off at your place, alright?"
Elphaba's stomach churned. She couldn't let Glinda see Melena, see their home. Nessa had been staying at Frexspar's this week and in her absence, Melena's worst instincts always took over. That was without even the biggest consideration, which was that Elphaba did not want Melena to see Glinda, talk to her or about her, ideally to know about her at all.
"Just tell me the way."
They parked quite a bit farther away than was needed, a foolish plan Elphaba soon realized would not be working, as Glinda got out of the car to walk her to her door anyway.
"You can't come inside," she blurted out.
Glinda looked at her with an odd smile, something like fondness for a stupid child. She wouldn't love being the recipient of such affection from anybody else.
"I wasn't going to invite myself," she replied and her hand slipped into Elphaba's. She then sighed. "I have work today anyway. I think I'm already late."
Though Elphaba had thought about this perspective long and hard for a large part of the night, she had decided to keep visiting the shop. Perhaps even increase her visits. The risk of seeing Fiyero there was agonizing but she had kept a perfect control over her feelings in public for as many years as she had been alive. She could stand a few hours here and there.
"I might have to find a place to study later, then."
They had reached the door to her building. Especially after visiting Glinda's home, it felt particularly shabby and gray.
"This is me."
There was hesitation. The streets were near empty, everyone either still at home with their loved ones, or back to work already in the slurry lull of post Thanksgiving. Glinda looked at Elphaba, who couldn't look away. Those blue, blue eyes. The cheeks flushed with the wind that made her curls dance, and with something else. The chapstick at her lips and then, tentatively, they were on hers. It was brief, not quite a peck on the lips but definitely not what they had fallen into the night before. It lasted just enough that it couldn't possibly be mistaken for anything else, for a friendlier touch, and not any second longer. Glinda looked as shocked as Elphaba.
"I'm… You have to go inside, right? Do you have to go?"
Glinda's voice was plaintive, begging, no, daring Elphaba to say otherwise. Elphaba was struck silent and backed into the door, the knob painfully digging into her butt. Glinda's eyes were piercing through her and Elphaba had no idea at all what was expected of her. She only knew she was falling short of it.
Glinda took a big breath.
"Because I think we should t…"
"I do have to go," Elphaba said instantly. "I have to go inside. I'll… I'll see you around. And thank you."
Glinda smiled in relief, which was even more puzzling to Elphaba. Her hand brushed against hers before she turned away, back to her car. She threw Elphaba one last glance over her shoulder and Elphaba watched her drive away before getting inside.
Though she couldn't understand anything of what had just happened, Elphaba's heart was warm and full when she climbed the stairs two by two to her apartment. There was guilt and there was shame, but they seemed to fade away with the memory of Glinda's kisses, of her smiles. If she let herself, she was certain she could still taste her at her lips. It was all a terrible idea, of course. But then, Elphaba had not had many brilliant ideas in her life.
She almost ran upstairs to start a quest to find the perfect book to study in Glinda's presence later today. She jammed her keys into the lock only to find the door already unlocked. When she pushed it, she walked right into Frexspar.
"What the fuck," she spat out, "are you doing here?!"
Frexspar looked at her with the all too familiar soft gaze that wanted itself benevolent, magnanimous. She glared. Melena was sitting at the table with Nessarose.
"Hello, Fabala," he said calmly. "How nice to see you."
It was the first time she had seen him in over a year. She could have gone for much longer. Nessarose was smiling at them encouragingly. Melena wasn't, but as she couldn't be bothered to intervene, Elphaba took it upon herself to rectify the situation.
"You're not welcome here. This is where I live. You don't belong here."
"Oh, Elphie, don't be like that," Nessarose shook her pretty head. "Dad just came to pick up some of my things I needed, and…"
"I'm sure Elphaba doesn't want to hear the details," Melena cut her, though she pretended to be kind. She did a whole lot of pretending around Nessarose that Elphaba hated. "You," she addressed Elphaba. "Go grab Nessa's things, will you? They're on the bed. Her and Frex will be right out."
Elphaba made sure to shove the duffle bag into Frexspar's chest much more vehemently than was needed. Nessa kissed her goodbye, looking at her severely in reproach. Elphaba pretended not to notice. As soon as the door was closed − slammed − behind them, she turned to Melena with fury.
"Why was he here?!"
Melena rolled her eyes. She patted the chair next to her to make Elphaba sit and slid her the traditional small vegan pumpkin-pecan pie Nanny made special for her every year. Elphaba grumbled, but took the pie nonetheless, digging in immediately.
"He's her father," she said and left unsaid the implied 'and yours'. "He's taking her to some conference next week and she needed her things."
That was not what Elphaba had expected.
"Next week?" She cried out. "Next week is Hanukkah!"
"You know Nessie doesn't care about those things." She paused. "And neither do you, really."
That was only half the truth. Elphaba had never been utterly convinced of the absolute veracity of the teachings she had been shown since childhood, but she also kept all the holidays as per her promise to Nanny and she enjoyed most of it. Her rabbi had never been a stranger and there was none of the dogmatic certainty of Nessarose and Frexspar's words in their conversations. Engaging with him, with it all, was something to do, something that reminded her that though she was a green abnormality and a mistake of nature, there was a part of her that belonged somewhere. She had not come from nowhere, she had come from a Jewish mother. That meant something, though she wasn't sure exactly what and why.
"I still think she should be here for it," she retorted. "What's Nanny gonna say?"
Melena snorted and took a large gulp of soda. She had taken to replacing beer with coke when Nessa was here, a habit that Elphaba hoped would carry over full time and ideally dissipate eventually. Nanny said sodas were packed with chemicals and ought to be gotten rid of, but that was because she did not know the alternative. Elphaba did not mind the coke.
"That's a cool treat for future us," Melena replied with a shrug. "So, tell me, how was Thanksgiving?"
Elphaba did not want to be answering that and indeed didn't have to. As soon as Melena had spoken, her phone lit up on the table with a notification and she rushed to pick up the phone lest her mother would see it.
just arrived at work I'm bored when are you coming xxx
She tried to think of an answer, but nothing seemed to fit. The best route seem to be action.
"Wait, where are you going? And why are you smiling like that?"
But Elphaba didn't answer. She grabbed her messenger bag from her bedroom and a couple of hastily chosen books. Her mother couldn't know about Glinda, of course. Nobody could ever know. Elphaba couldn't stop smiling on her way to the shop.
Hey! If you read this could you PLEASE leave a comment to tell me if you liked it.
Chapter 13: In which Glinda has a gift for Elphaba
Glinda gives Elphaba a sweater and her virginity I guess.
Please note that this chapter contains explicit sexual content.
Glinda had spent all day dreaming of the expression on Elphaba's face as she would give her the present she had preciously selected for her. It was nothing of a gift, really, but it was for Elphaba and of late, everything that had to do with the green girl seemed beyond treasures. There was a balloon in her heart that made every step feel breezy, floating through the days. When the familiar green face made her well anticipated appearance through the glass window that late afternoon, Glinda might as well have leaped for joy. She tried not to bounce to the break room where she grabbed the pretty paper bag she had left well in sight. Elphaba had hardly reached the counter to take her order when Glinda shoved the present in front of her.
"I got you a gift!"
Elphaba looked exactly like Glinda had been hoping: like Christmas came early. Gesturing to Boq her usual order, she turned to Glinda and gave her the sweetest of curious smiles.
"And what is the occasion for that?"
"Well, I was going to give it to you later this month but… I thought you might need it before then."
Elphaba looked intrigued but most importantly, happy. She carefully untied the pretty bow closing the bag and took its content out, unfolding it. Her confusion did not leave her face.
"It's an ugly Christmas sweater!" Glinda beamed. "For your Christmas parties. I mean, it's because you have no sense of fashion, you know that, and I just thought that… What is it? Do you like it?"
Boq and Elphaba shared a look and seemed to have a tacit fight that Glinda could not understand and finally, Elphaba turned back to her and pressed the sweater to her chest.
"I love it," she said simply and a tiny part of Glinda that had been afraid was assuaged. "Glinda, thank you."
"Elphie, you're Jewish!"
"And I love it all the same," she retorted with finality. Pulling the sweater over her head, she hugged herself as soon as it was on. "It fits perfectly."
Glinda could not stop smiling. Elphaba did that to her, made her want to smile sometimes despite herself. It came as natural as breathing around her.
"It's literally Hanukkah this week," Boq grumbled but handed her the drink. "You lit the third candle yesterday."
Glinda had not known that Elphaba was Jewish. It was new information. She relished it, put it away safely in the huge storing room that was her knowledge on Elphaba. She didn't remember the last time she had been so inclined to learn about anyone. She didn't remember wanting anything quite as much before.
Elphaba was sat at her usual table, except nothing was the same as usual. It hadn't been the same since Thanksgiving and Glinda wondered if it would ever be again. Clad in the sweater, Elphaba looked as cute as someone like her ever could. The sweater was a disastrous mix of red, white and, of course, green. Glinda couldn't stop stealing glances − which were readily returned with a cheeky wink − and by the time her shift ended, she was buzzing with the anticipation she had built all day. They had not been in private since Thanksgiving but there had been a few charged conversations here and there. Glinda wanted more.
"Elphie," she whispered secretively. She was somehow certain that Boq ought not to hear her offer, even though it might have been utterly innocent. It might have.
Elphaba looked up from the book she'd been reading, giving Glinda a smile she was sure she did not deserve. There was softness in her harsh features. There was something handsome to her. Now that Glinda was seeing it, she wondered how she could ever have missed it at first. She felt like she had missed so many things before meeting Elphaba.
"The manager told me I shouldn't be staying here late with you anymore," she said truthfully. "But I… I want to spend time with you. With just you."
Elphaba's lips pursed and Glinda saw the flicker of a tongue passing between them. She had her full attention, black eyes piercing through her.
"I don't live far. Would you… I mean, do you want to?"
Elphaba's hesitation were all it would have taken for Glinda's resolve to crumble, but it was short lived. A few tense seconds and she nodded. Glinda felt the smile bloom across her face as if despite herself. She was feeling very warm indeed and she breathed out sharply as passed Boq to get her things from the break room, ready to leave. This was all an incredibly bad idea, a risky one in any case. If she let herself think it through, she would chicken out of it, so she didn't. She wrapped herself up in her jacket, her scarf, her beanie and, for she was in a good mood, waved goodbye to Boq. That itself might have been even more suspicious than the absence of it, all things considered.
Elphaba was already outside, leaning against the wall out of sight from the inside of coffee shop, staring up at the sky. It was dark out here but not even the dark could stop Glinda from staring at her face, the strong line of her jaw, the nose, the eyes that seemed to shine with the anticipation for the rest of the night.
"It's just a few blocks," she said, as if she had any reason to justify herself. "It's easier."
"Yeah," Elphaba breathed out and made a puff of white steam in front of her. "Yeah."
They walked in silence − what was there to say? Halfway there, Glinda reached out to hold Elphaba's hand, who squeezed it through the glove. Even though Glinda knew she lived quite close, the walk had never seemed so long, not even after the worst most boring days. It was an eternity of doubts and ponderings before finally, they reached the building and Glinda unlocked the door one-handed. In the elevator, she thought she could have cut through the tension between them. She swallowed thickly and braced herself.
It took a flicker of a second after they crossed the threshold of Glinda's apartment. Whatever it was that had been pushed away, blossoming in the darkness, was brought to light and Glinda's arms wrapped around Elphaba's shoulders and neck and their lips met with more passion than Glinda had ever felt in her life. It was a fire in her soul, in her mouth, with every accidental bump of Elphaba's long nose against hers and with the way her tall body bowed into hers as Glinda pressed her against the door. For the first time, Glinda desired, she wanted. None of her fancy caprices of the past left her with even a fraction of the craving she felt for Elphaba, and certainly not any kiss of Fiyero.
Elphaba, ever stern and unbending, melted against her like a young sprout. Kisses led to kisses led to an unashamed desire to feel green skin under her fingers. Tentatively, she pushed her hands up under Elphaba's new sweater, finding her shivering. Her skin was impossibly soft, all the more in contrast with the tense hardness of muscles Glinda wished she could press a thousand kisses against. Tracing every line with the tip of her fingers, Glinda relished in the way Elphaba pressed into her touch, breath getting heavier and distracted in their kisses. If she dared a caress lower…
"Can I…" Glinda toyed with the waist of Elphaba's jeans, noting the mark her boxers' waistband left on her skin. Their foreheads were touching and she wondered if she had ever known another person's breath so intimately. "Elphie, can I?"
An awkward hurried nod was the answer as Elphaba unbuckled her belt. More than a permission, it was the invitation Glinda needed. Though her hand was shaking, she managed enough control to pull down the layers that separated her from the treasure she sought. Elphaba's jeans and boxers were hastily dragged to her mid-thigh. Glinda wanted to sink to her knees and explore the new wonders exposed to her but before she could, Elphaba pulled her face to hers to press a long and slow kiss against her lips. There was a shy smile to her when she pulled for breath and it was all Glinda could do not to moan in adoration.
"Alright," she whispered and Elphaba's lips were so close she felt them even as she spoke. "Everything's alright."
Elphaba groaned into Glinda's hair when fingertips brushed against thick black curls. Glinda had never done this before, hardly to herself and never to another person. She couldn't tell what was guiding her, some instinct inside, the deep desire to touch and adore the most intimate part of Elphaba Thropp. What had always terrified her, the perspective of a future where sex would be a part of her life, maybe after marriage, was coming now all too naturally. Fingertips slipped downwards, exploring what her eyes couldn't see and she sighed contentedly against Elphaba's neck. Elphie was warm and she was wet and she was perfect. She pressed a knuckle inside, a second one, her palm grinding against Elphaba and though she knew she was clumsy, though she had no idea how any of it was done, especially to another woman, it did not matter in the slightest when Elphaba enjoyed it.
Elphaba's raspy moans were music to Glinda's ears. Rather than holding onto her, her bony hands were clamping the door behind them, trying to find a stable purchase and, in the impossibility of any such thing, she periodically fell into Glinda who was all the happier to stand proud and strong for her to lean into. Her face was hidden, buried into Glinda's neck and from everywhere she could feel the heat of Elphaba. It was in the hitching breath against her skin, seeping through Elphaba's clothes as their bodies were becoming near as one, and it was clamping around her fingers in the magical rhythm of their delicious forbidden lovemaking. Though little was done to her, Glinda could feel her life being changed forever with every caress she gave Elphaba. Her heart was pounding in her chest, craving to leap out and embrace her lover. She had never known anything as tender, as intense.
There was nothing to say, nothing that could even begin to convey the emotions pouring out of her heart. There was everything to do, to touch, to worship. Even moving to a more tolerable surface − a couch, a bed, even any flat surface where she could lay Elphaba for her to take − was impossible. The urge could not be stopped. Elphaba's legs were shaking and Glinda took it upon herself to pull up a long skinny clothed leg and wrap it around her hips and if Elphaba minded the exposure, she hid it well. The added benefit of a better angle on her ministrations was well rewarded by as many kisses as they could bear, which was indeed many. Glinda wondered at the secret revealed to her, this world of bliss she had never known. Under her hands, Elphaba was a puddle, she was a new shade of soft, she was precious.
A single word escaped Elphaba's lips, the first since they had walked in.
This was a reward. No compliment she had been paid, no ribbon she had won, no pretty little curtsy or polite twittering meant a thing now. Glinda was only now receiving the most precious prize of all and it was in the person of Elphaba Thropp. Contorting herself into Glinda's touch, she was hot and soaking, then she was pulsing around Glinda's fingers, under her palm, the rhythm of life itself marking every heartbeat. It was blooming and living and gone much too fast with a grunt muffled into Glinda's hair. Glinda dropped a few last kisses on Elphaba's neck and jaw and pulled out her fingers when the show was over, pressing a last caress against Elphaba, a farewell till the next time. There would be a next time.
Elphaba took a few deep breaths, eyes still shut tight and little by little her chest heaved a little less sporadically, a little more soothingly. Slowly, she opened her eyes. Glinda, taken by folly, was urged by some impulse to lick her fingers clean, making a teasing show of it, a naughty grin. Elphaba's eyes widened and though Glinda kissed her quiet, she still looked bewildered after all was done. It took a moment for her to recover herself, languidly pulling up her jeans. She was trying to buckle her belt with shaking fingers when Glinda pressed a hand to her arm.
"Leave these off?" Elphaba blinked. "Let's just hang out, you don't need them on." More hesitation. "I have weed."
The argument was convincing enough. Awkwardly, Elphaba unlaced her army boots and shook herself out of her jeans. Glinda bit her lip, hoping for a better show, but the boxers stayed on. It was still a pretty sight, long green folded legs on Glinda's pink couch, the ugly sweater clashing with how beautiful the girl was. There was a pale flush across her cheeks and her hair was tousled.
She grabbed a small pouch from its hiding place in the cupboard behind the breakfast cereals and opened it to roll up a first blunt, dropping next to Elphaba on the sofa. There was much to say and nothing was said. Elphaba took the first drag of the joint, sucking the smoke in like it was her personal oxygen mask. She took her sweet time blowing out the smoke, staring at the ceiling, handing it to Glinda without glancing her way.
"I'd never done that," Elphaba said. "I mean, had it done to me. You know what I mean."
Glinda took the blunt to her lips and felt the weight of tranquility shroud her. She smiled, taking another long drag of it before passing it.
"Me neither," she said. She leaned her head to Elphaba's shoulder. "It never felt… Oh, it's stupid."
Elphaba was glancing her way, she could feel by the way her neck was tensing against her. Glinda nuzzled into the scratchy wool under her cheek, lips finding green skin, not quite a kiss.
"It was never the right time before today. Before you."
They shifted, Glinda's head at Elphaba's lap, thin long fingers tenderly combing through her curls as they made slow conversation. Mostly they looked into each other's eyes and said nothing. When Elphaba had to leave, the stars were up in the sky and Glinda gave her long goodnight kisses at her doorstep. Finally, when she was all alone, she thought of Fiyero.
Chapter 14: In which Boq and Fiyero are friends
how many times am I gonna give the same resume, Boq feels guilty yadda yadda Fiyero and him are just FRIENDS okay
So sorry for this days long absence, I had a friend come over and could not write. Expect at least one chapter a day the rest of the month.
Fiyero and Boq might as well never have met for how well he pretended in public.
They had seen each other again, touched each other again. It had been often enough to make Boq crumble with guilt and doubt, but not nearly enough to satisfy the nasty, craving part of him. That part was put to the test by Fiyero's public indifference. Every night that wasn't with Fiyero was lonely and miserable, and every night with him was just the same as soon as the shame settled in.
Of course, Fiyero being indifferent was all relative to his natural charm. He treated everyone like a friend and that included Boq. They had dropped the pretense of workout for the most part, what with winter coming and their night runs not as practical as they were when the temperature was still above freezing level. They much preferred to meet up directly at Fiyero's now, but that had meant that they were evidently ex workout buddies and that no one could ever detect that anything was going on just from the outside. On occasions when Fiyero still came to the coffee shop to pick up Glinda for their dates (and Boq had every reason to believe that their relationship was indeed thriving), he greeted Boq warmly and neutrally and Boq died a little bit more on the inside every time. They were acquaintances, if not friends. They were buddies. They were nothing. They were everything under the sun but what Boq wanted.
Boq had enough friends as was and he did not need the inclusion of a tall, terribly handsome and attractive one, even though that friendship included acts of a tender sexual nature behind closed doors. Friends weren't for that, anyways. Elphaba most likely didn't know what a kiss was and Crope and Tibbett, even if they did and claimed it loud and clear, kept anything more explicit than hand holding hidden away. Friendship was something else, it was jokes and teasing on his behalf and it certainly wasn't late night trysts in bed and sterile nods and smiles at one another in public. Fiyero was playing outside the rules and Boq was drawn into his game whether he wanted to or not. But every time they were together and Fiyero's mouth was on his and everywhere else, he knew he could never put a stop to the madness, not if his life depended on it.
The butt of Crope, Tibbett and Elphaba's constant jokes, Boq had devoted too little time to look at his friends for what they actually were. These days, he could not think about Crope or Tibbett without a pang of jealousy, instantly overpowered by an intense admiration. They had been brave, they still were. He had met them as a freshman and had learned that they had been together for years, and that was even though they were from the South. Even now that they lived up here in the city, the fears ingrained from their previous situation of living kept them discreet about their relationship, but they had never hidden it fully. Boq had known from the start and sometimes wondered if that wasn't what drew him to them as friends. There was something to admire about being who you were, being with the person you wanted.
"Hey, Crope," he started, addressing his friend sitting at a table near him with heaps of books.
Finals weren't too far from now and Crope had always been more of the bookish type than Tibbett. Maybe that was what made Tibbett all the wilder and more exuberant, being stuck with three nerds such as them for his entourage. If Boq wasn't careful, he could almost excuse him for the taunting. It wasn't like he wasn't already used to it, growing up Elphaba's friend.
This period of the year was the calm before the storm. Boq could have heard a fly from across the room if it wasn't so biting cold as for there to be no flies at all. There must have been two dozens of students scattered across the small room and not one of them said a word. Tibbett said the silence gave him a headache and preferred to study in bars. Elphaba had never said any such thing but had shown less and less sign of life as the semester went on − her caustic presence was only a little missed, but Boq did feel relieved that he had veered into agriculture studies as his family had hoped and not biology as she had. If she couldn't even be bothered to come to the coffee shop, then Elphaba's life must have taken a strange turn indeed. Still, the quiet rustle of pages, scrap of a pencil jotting down important notes, an occasional sigh was almost soothing if Boq didn't have a worrying mind. Fiyero had not given sign that they would be meeting tonight, so he had assumed they would not.
"So, this may sound weird," he muttered to Crope and felt like all eyes were on him. They weren't, of course. Everybody was head down into their textbooks and laptops, "But I was wondering how you and T…"
He had no reason to envy them, no right to. He had brought himself into this situation. He could well have turned down Fiyero's offer that first time, refused his kisses and advances and they wouldn't be where they were now. He could have listened to his brain instead of his heart − and also his stupid dick. It was his own damn fault and he didn't even know what morbid curiosity pushed him to know more about a healthier, though maybe harder way to go about being gay. He only knew that looking at Crope and Tibbett, even on their own, made him long for another version of the story he was living.
"Hey, bud!" The dreaded, desired voice said from behind him.
Fiyero was looking cheerful, a change from everybody else with the stress of their studies and in this damned weather. That wasn't a concern of his. It was weird, wasn't it, that Fiyero coming from his sun-kissed country of South Africa (they had had that discussion a while ago, with Boq's head resting on a black torso and strong arms around him and he had almost forgotten that those arms had embraced Glinda far more times than him) fared so much better in the cold of winter. There was frost in his hair that he shook as he walked in and the cashmere scarf at his neck made Boq want to pull it down to kiss him full on the mouth. Fiyero loved the snow, the cold, and wore far too few layers for the current weather. His sleeves were rolled up just a little and Boq felt a shiver that had nothing to do with the early winter conditions.
"Hi," he said hesitantly. "Glinda's not here."
Glinda was stubborn and determined to get the better of management whether they wanted it or not. She had left early today, an hour before the scheduled end of her shift. It might have had something to do with finals coming soon (Boq did not know what she studied, for she never told him anything) but he doubted it.
"No, I know," Fiyero smiled and Boq's worries thawed away for a minute. "I'm here to see you."
Crope, thank God, had gone back to his books as soon as the interruption had come, but Boq felt the tension of being, if not observed, at least in plain sight and vulnerable. He tried to hide his extreme joy at seeing Fiyero. He felt like he failed.
"I got new dumbbells," Fiyero went on as if that was the truth, as if that was important. "Wanna come check 'em out?"
"Come on," Fiyero teased and reached over to squeeze Boq's inexistent biceps. At least, he could pretend that his jerking back was from the cold hands. "You need that workout so bad. I'm sure you haven't done a pull-up in weeks."
There were two Fiyeros, it seemed to him sometimes. The private Fiyero was caring and passionate and made Boq's eyes roll back in his head with bliss and was hot as fire. The public Fiyero was warm as late embers, calming and fun and everybody's friend and Glinda's boyfriend. They were usually quite separate, but tonight, he could not always decipher which Fiyero he was talking to. He nodded.
"End of my shift in twenty minutes," he whispered. Much louder, he asked. "What do you want to drink?"
The rest of his shift was spent with Fiyero's staring eyes on him, a grin hidden behind a steaming cup of pumpkin spice hot chocolate. There was a bit of foam at his lips and Boq's chest panged with envy when he rubbed it off with a napkin. Crope had left with a polite wave.
"Are you alright, buddy?"
They were walking to Fiyero's place. Boq was constantly trying to restrain himself from stealing glances, from thinking too hard, for brushing against him accidentally-on-purpose and make him uncomfortable. He longed to hold Fiyero's hand, to lean his head against a taller shoulder and to be everything a couple was. He couldn't have that, of course, not being a boy and having so much less to offer than Glinda, but that didn't stop him from wanting.
"Sure," he replied, restraining his voice to hide his nerves. "Sure, I'm great."
He didn't have the right to expect more. How selfish would that be, even more than what he was already doing. What right did he have to tell Glinda that she did not deserve a relationship with Fiyero, that he was his now and that he could ever fulfill whatever it was Fiyero got from being with her? Which would hurt her the most, knowing that her boyfriend had cheated with him and would do it again as soon as they passed the threshold of his apartment, or knowing that Boq's guilt was not even enough to stop him from craving the romance he knew Fiyero could never give him?
It would have been easier to be interested in Glinda. He could have pined for her and drunk himself silly for longing and gotten over her. It would even have been easier to be interested in Nessarose, who would for sure reciprocate, but there was the concern of her age and he would have that excuse. But the more Boq went with Fiyero's game, the more certain he became that no woman could ever be the object of his dreams, that he could never be satisfied with anything but a masculine embrace and strong arms and tough jaw and hair and everything that was Fiyero. It was a constant pretense of not being interested, only for it to become all the more apparent in private that there was nothing else at all he was interested in.
And how well Fiyero could play that pretense, and how much better he dropped it.
They had hardly closed the door of Fiyero's apartment behind them, eighth floor and seventh heaven, that Fiyero's hands were at Boq's shoulders from behind, giving them a rub before helping him out of his jacket. His lips pressed against his neck, his ear, toying with him.
"Did you miss me?" He asked and Boq's restraint crumbled to nothing but a moan.
He was helped out of his clothes, each part of his body given attention and, Boq thought, love. Fiyero kissed him like he cared, like all this charade in public was just a farce and what mattered was what went on when the door was closed. They typically made it to the bed as often as not but tonight, they did not. Boq was given a seat on the couch and with Fiyero on his knees, he could bury his hands into coils of black hair and play pretend in his own mind. In his own thoughts, Fiyero was a charming knight, a beautiful pretender, a loving boyfriend. Their eyes met and Fiyero winked at him, and Boq lost himself.
When they were done, Boq was pulled to his feet to the bathroom. He could not tear his eyes from Fiyero's heaving chest, from arms that seemed always to be flexed or maybe just that strong, from Fiyero's… but then they were in the shower under warm water and steam filled up the booth and he let himself be washed from the guilt and from the desire for the night. It was done.
"Here," Fiyero said once they stepped out, rubbing him dry with a warm towel, rolling him into a towel burrito. "All good?"
Boq huffed, but basked in the attention.
"Yeah," he said and smiled at how carefully Fiyero patted his hair dry. "Thanks."
Fiyero handed him a shirt of his, a pair of much too big sweatpants that had to be tied double. Boq knew this meant he would be invited to spend the night and his chest was ridiculously warm with how happy that made him. Fiyero looked at him, a hand cupping his cheek then pushing up, getting his hair out of his face.
"That's what friends are for."
Chapter 15: In which Glinda wants it all
Glinda feels like she's finally reached a perfect balance of happiness.
Glinda had made peace with herself. She could have it all.
It was a beautiful mess of a situation, in a way, but she had finally reached the point of balance between all things and even though guilt sometimes reared its ugly head at the back of her mind, she was quick to focus on how perfect it had all turned out. She could be Fiyero's girlfriend and have someone to take to family dinners and parties and dates without a fuss, someone to have daily casual conversations with, someone to love, someone who supported her and listened to her. She could also keep the secret dalliance with Elphaba and have someone to want and desire, someone to have deep discussions with, someone who challenged her and pushed her to think further than she would. She couldn't bring herself to imagine having sex with Fiyero, not now, but she also couldn't imagine Elphaba going romantic on her. It was better this way, easier even. She kept everybody fulfilled and happy and most importantly herself. What with her classes, despite her undeclared major, going as smoothly as one might expect and work becoming easier now that she had a favorite customer, Glinda was finally satisfied with her life again. It was nothing less than she deserved.
It did mean keeping the secret tight. It meant hiding a part of herself to everyone, though a different facet depending on who was concerned. That, Glinda had much experience with. There had never been anybody who saw her fully and, if Elphaba was the closest to that so far, that was only because the green girl also shared much about herself in return.
Tonight, she was floating with contentment. For the first time in a long while, Glinda had the time to go out with her friends. Her life being so loaded had meant that it was harder to organize herself time for everything and these days, many nights had been devoted to Elphaba and Elphaba's body and her gorgeous curtain of black hair and her dark green lips and so many other delicious parts of her. But tonight, delicious Elphaba was studying and would not be disturbed for any reason. Glinda's third priority in line after her boyfriend and her snack on the side had to be her friends.
"… and then, the lecturer stopped and stared at me and outright told me to stop painting my nails," Shenshen was saying over the dull sound of music outside the private booth Pfannee had booked them. "And I told him that…"
They had gone to the club, because where else, and it had felt good to Glinda to be able to dress up for once but that enthusiasm had soon faltered as she had realized that there was no one in attendance she wanted to appreciate the effort. Of course, her friends had complimented her dress and her makeup, but that had been the extend of it. She still remembered the look on Elphaba's face the other day when she had unveiled the green lingerie… But Elphaba would never step foot inside a club anyway, in or out of a private booth, so Glinda had dressed up for no one in particular. She liked to be looked at, if just by specific people, a specific person, and the attire felt pointless now.
"Why weren't you listening?" Glinda asked and Shenshen and Pfannee looked at her like she had grown a second, ugly head. "I mean, it was a lecture…"
Pfannee shook her head and emptied her glass in one swift elegant gesture.
"You've grown boring this year," she told Glinda bluntly and Glinda told herself she could put that on account of the alcohol. "Why are you like this?"
Glinda had no reply to that. She didn't think she was boring, but she supposed that boring people must also feel that way. In truth, she had thought exactly like Shenshen earlier in the semester. That was before several intense and vehement conversations with Elphaba, which had been more like monologues from the green girl, about the importance of education in their downtrodden society that rewarded the privileged. Elphaba was a walking sermon, always a word and an opinion on everything, and when she didn't have one, she would argue with herself out loud until she did. Glinda thought that there was a lot of talking and not enough kissing sometimes, but she loved seeing Elphaba get passionate about something, anything, so she let it happen and listened dutifully. In the process, it had made her learn to think a little bit more. She was not happy or unhappy about that. It had just happened.
"It's not being boring," Glinda retorted. "It's being cautious. We're here to get an education and, especially in big halls, Elphaba says that teachers keep slipping information that's not in the textbook but that will be in the final and if you're smart, you should…"
"Yeah, yeah," Pfannee waved her silent. "Look, who wants to go to the Philosophy Club?"
Shenshen, who had feigned falling asleep at Glinda's words, was awaken in an instant and nodded enthusiastically. Glinda did not share the sentiment. Even before, before this whole change she could not put to words except that it was before Elphaba, she had not much liked that ill-reputed underground club. She politely refused, as did Milla, but all of them went out anyway. Once Pfannee decided the night was over, that was what it was.
Glinda was thinking of how she could word a text to Elphaba to hopefully get a reply, short as it must be, but Milla was blocking her path out of the club. She tried to smile and walk past but a hand stopped her arm and she was pulled to the side.
"What?" She asked politely. "What is it?"
Milla shook her head, first politely waving her goodbyes at their friends, before taking Glinda's hand and walking briskly down the street the opposite way than the other girls.
"Milla, my place is the other way, what are you d…"
"You've mentioned Elphaba seven times today," Milla cut her hardly above a whisper.
Glinda froze into place, cold sweat at her temple all of a sudden. The hand holding her purse clutched tight and she bit her lip.
"I'm sure I haven't…"
"I counted," Milla said with finality and in truth, Glinda could easily believe her, much as she hated it. "Seven separate mentions. In one night. Glinda, I don't know what's happening between you two and I don't want to know but Fiyero's a good guy and…"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
She tried to make her way past Milla, to go back home but Milla's arm was barring her way again.
"I think you do," she retorted. "I think you know exactly what I mean. You know I don't care that she's a girl, I'm not like that. Pfannee and Shenshen might, though, but that's not my point."
Glinda had never thought that anybody could find out her secret despite herself. She had imagined that the truth might slip out if she failed to keep her mouth shut, but had not ever thought that there would be any other way for anyone to know of her affair if she didn't allow it to happen. She had thought wrong.
"I'm… Milla, I…" She was struck dumb and no argument would come to mind to defend herself.
It was stupid and it was unfair. It wasn't in her control to feel so much lust and desire and craving for Elphaba. She had hardly had to make any effort at all to find herself kissing her, touching her, and it had just happened to her like sunshine after a fall of rain. She had no choice in the matter and it was not fair that it ought to be judged so harshly, coming from a friend no less. That was what she was trying to tell herself, at least.
"I'm not going to tell him, if that's what you're worried about," Milla told her with a roll of the eyes. "I'm not even going to ask you to do it. But you can't go on like this, Glinda. You can't have it all."
Glinda had been running under the exact opposite assumption.
"I… I don't want to leave Fiyero," she said. "Because I love him." She paused, thinking. "And I don't want to stop… you know…"
"I'm not making your choice for you," Milla said. "I'm only telling you that there is a choice to be made."
Glinda hated the feeling deep and heavy in her stomach, like a pit had been open wide. Milla, at least, let her go without demanding a promise of action. Glinda was not in the mood to make any such thing. She was not in the mood for anything. She went home and tore off her dress, her earrings and necklace and rings, the casual-looking elaborate hairdo she had pulled up, the thighs and the heels and put on her ugliest, comfiest pajamas. It was late, but not too late that she must absolutely go to bed, so she didn't.
She tried to watch TV but found nothing she liked, tried to read but couldn't focus. Her phone was glaring at her with Milla's judging eyes. She thought of Elphaba, trying to picture her casually leaning back in a chair, studying herself crazy, her mind full of cleverness and wit. The long ink black hair tied in a bun or braided, as she seemed to do it most often, and licking a green thumb before turning pages, and… She did not dare to text her.
"Hey," Fiyero answered after the third ring. "Hey, what's up, babe?"
"Nothing," Glinda said, nestling into blankets deep in her armchair. "Just wanted to hear your voice."
"You've heard it now," he laughed. "Look, I'm so sorry, but I'm a little bit busy tonight, you know…"
She blinked. Of all the people to leave her hanging…
"Oh. No, no, I understand, of course…"
"I'm sorry, okay?" He paused. "I love you."
Glinda loved him too, of course. She loved him because she did, because it made sense to, because she had and had to. She loved him, so why was it so hard to say the words back tonight?
"Goodnight, Fiyero," she told him instead.
She eventually went to bed after much too long of doing nothing, of pushing down all her thoughts and fears. The next morning, she felt awful and exhausted but she had to go to work. Elphaba was not there, hopefully not yet. Before she could reach the break room and get her apron, she was stopped by the manager.
"Ah, Glinda, I was waiting for you."
Glinda hoped that was not meant as a remark on her slight tardiness, though judging by the manager's expression, that wasn't much of a reach in interpretation.
"Erm, yes? I'm just going to get my apron and…"
"There's no need," the manager said. "You're fired."
Chapter 16: In which Fiyero doesn't live alone
Fiyero visits Boq's place to spread ANGST and some news.
Fiyero was too big for Boq’s armchair and his legs and legs spilled all over, a tangled mess that would be so very tempting if it weren’t also out of place. He wasn't supposed to be here, but then nothing between them had ever been supposed to go this way so who was Boq to tell him no? He wasn’t much used to company, but when Fiyero had come knocking at his door, what could he do but let him in? Even if his studio was too small and boring to accommodate anyone, even if he felt awkward and was rapidly getting uncomfortable, what else could he do?
“So, erm… What brings you here?”
He had simply showed up tonight only after a text asking for confirmation on Boq’s address. Boq had been busy wallowing - what else? Presently, he was sitting uncomfortably on the floor, as Fiyero has taken the only seat in the space that was Boq's tiny living room. Boq as acutely aware of how messy the place was - he supposed that was telling of his mother’s rearing him well enough that he noticed. In all his sorrow and self-pity parties, self-care had become secondary. There were plates piling up in the sink, cups littering his desk and the place could well use a broom. But somehow, even if his mother had been here, he did not think that the untidiness would catch her attention nearly as much as his closeted male lover visiting him behind his girlfriend’s back. That part might have gone wholly unobserved.
Fiyero looked at him. His smile was naughty and almost enough to hide the secret Boq sensed lingering behind.
“I’m not allowed to visit my homie anymore?” He joked, but Boq’s unmoving stare pushed him to confession. “Look, do you really wanna know?”
Boq hardly hesitated.
“It’s not so much want to,” he said, “as need to.”
Fiyero sighed, as if Boq was the one ruining the fun, as if they had been having any fun at all. He took a swig of the beer Boq had given him and gulped it down thickly, gave a loud exhale as he put it back down.
“My place is off limits now. Glinda moved in yesterday.”
The last part of Boq’s heart that had still held up hope broke into pieces. Somehow, the semblance of separation between Glinda and Fiyero at least on the most basic level of living arrangements had meant he had a space of his own to fill in Fiyero’s life. With that gone…
“Oh,” he said.
“It wasn’t my idea,” Fiyero said, apologized. “It was rushed. You know how she lost her job and… Well, her parents weren’t too happy with that and kicked her out of her apartment. It’s the only way that worked.”
Boq had learned about Glinda getting fired earlier that week, if only just because he had had to catch a few of her shifts in the absence of a replacement for her at first. He had seen her only once since, studying with Elphaba at the shop between hot drinks. He had not known that they were particularly friends or even acquaintances but as neither of them had been particularly inclined to speak to him beyond their order, he had not insisted. He was not really looking to speak to Glinda anyways. Some guilty part of him was not unhappy about her losing the job, because it soothed his conscience even just a little so not have to see her all the time. If he had known that this was because she was moving in with the boy of his dreams…
“You look mad. Are you mad?”
Boq was bewildered that Fiyero even dared to ask the question, though he tried not to show it. With every last bit of this nothing of an affair crumbling away from him, what was there to gain in trying to argue and speak his mind? He had everything to lose. He had lost everything already.
“No,” he said. “No, of course not. But I thought you guys… I mean, I didn’t think you were there yet.”
“I didn’t think so either,” Fiyero sighed. “And I wasn’t her first choice, but that girl, your friend I think? Well, Elphaba wasn’t looking for a roommate and she refused, so Glinda’s parents suggested my place and I like that they like me, so…”
That surprised Boq. Not the fact that Elphaba had refused, of course. Boq had been witness to some minimal extent to the private and intimate life of the house Thropp and that had been enough to know for sure that Elphaba was most ashamed and uncomfortable with it and that no friend of hers would ever be invited home, much less allowed to room there. What was surprising was that Glinda had ever even entertained that option. But then, since it had not happened and something much worse had, that didn’t really matter. Glinda did look like the sort of person who thought much of her social relations, and Elphaba not at all.
“Then you live together now, huh…”
Fiyero attempted a grin.
“Me, Glinda and the three tons of clothes and makeup she brought along.” He noticed Boq’s unsmiling face and shrugged. “Did you know she snores? She does.”
Boq didn’t, not that it was of any interest to him. This week even more than the past few weeks, he had tried to think of anything pertaining to Glinda as little as he could. He felt sorry for her misfortune of losing a job, of course, and even more so he was crippled by the guild of knowing there was even more misery that she didn’t even know she was in. But allowing himself to think of the specific person of Glinda was harsher than Boq was able to manage. He much preferred to direct all the angst and guild towards his own person.
“I didn’t think of Glinda,” he said, “as the kind of person to lose an apartment within a week of losing a job.”
Fiyero had finished his beer and began playing with Boq’s hair and ear absentmindedly. He was a cuddly, touchy feely kind of person, Boq had long known. That was far too much to handle at once, but he said nothing.
“She wouldn’t,” Fiyero explained, “except her parents are trying to send a message, I think. They want us to be more serious, but mostly for her to be more serious. For her to… get her shit together, I guess.”
And Fiyero’s place was where they expected her to do so, Boq thought with an odd jealousy. How unfair that Glinda's life would be on a path to becoming a better person by associating with Fiyero, while he had nothing to gain with him but shame and secrecy.
"It's not a big deal," Fiyero went on. "I mean, her family always liked me. And there's Christmas coming soon and she'll be parading me around at her family reunion, I guess, but it's all just to make her happy, you know? Her and me, it's not like…"
His fingers had wandered across Boq's jaw, a thumb stroking across his lips and though Boq wanted to get up and run away as far from that touch as he could, he let himself be caressed because everything Fiyero did to him was magic. His eyes closed and Fiyero sighed.
"It's nothing like what you give me," he said finally. "We haven't had sex, if that's what you're worried about."
He tried to pull Boq up and kiss him but even though Boq was fully swayed and charmed by the faintest of touches, he had it in him to be vexed tonight. He let himself be pulled to Fiyero's lap but offered only his cheek to be kissed. Fiyero chuckled at that, dropping kisses all across his cheek and neck and shoulder.
"Come on, don't be mad," he said in that low and seductive voice that made Boq want to forgive him every slight past and future. "You know I wouldn't drop you like that, it's just a matter of being more careful."
"You say that…" Boq started but couldn't find the words in him to express to Fiyero how frustrated everything made him, how desperate he was for any attention and what fleeting passion had kindled between them that he would take even the scrappiest crumbs, but how much more he wanted than he had been given. "You just say that."
Fiyero's arms were around him, insistent kisses at Boq's neck that he could not help enjoying.
"Are you jealous, little buddy?" Fiyero asked, his voice warm against Boq's ear before a kiss was pressed on it, a nibble at the lobe. "Do you want to parade me at your Christmas party?"
Boq's breath was getting heavy and his hands clung to the arm wrapped around his chest, palms flush against a strong forearm. How he wished to show Fiyero around to everyone he knew and loved, to be held close in public and to be given those chaste, tender kisses he had seen Fiyero give to Glinda.
"I don't have a Christmas party, I'm Jewish," he grumbled but he couldn't seem to cool down the heating vibe despite his mediocre efforts. "I'm not parading you anywhere."
"All the better," Fiyero replied. "You don't have to share me with anyone."
Boq could think of a specific someone he was forced to share Fiyero with, a prissy blonde someone who might have been waiting for him at home this very instant, but Fiyero's lips were getting so close to his now and his hair was tickling his cheeks and Boq did not feel like arguing against him at all. He had far different plans for the present.
"Kiss me then," he said. "Make it up to me."
Fiyero kissed him like there was no girlfriend for him at home, like there was no one in the world but Boq in his arms, like Boq was the only oxygen he needed and craved and like Boq was the object of his every desires. An hour later, he left Boq's place and then, finally, Boq could be alone to brood his thoughts. He buried himself under covers that still smelled like Fiyero and clutched them tight all night.
Chapter 17: In which Elphaba pays Glinda a visit
Glinda invites Elphaba at her new place.
Please be aware that this chapter features explicit sexual content.
Glinda felt angry most of the time and when she didn't, she felt sad.
Fiyero had been most accommodating, of course. He had been kind and thoughtful and had let her reorganize-slash-occupy his closet and fix the sorely lacking decoration. He cooked for her most nights, but wasn't very good at it. She cooked the other nights and was awful at it. She supposed that was live-in relationships. They talked sometimes. Mostly, they didn't.
What she had dropped along the way was a sense of her own space. She missed her apartment − she was certain that her parents hadn't even found new tenants for it, only shoved her out to send a strong message that she wasn't to live under their roof freely even when luck failed her. That nothing was free in this world. Fiyero's apartment was comfortable and clean, which was something to be grateful for, she supposed, but it was his and she didn't feel at home there.
She slept in his bed, nothing beyond just that. Fiyero slept on the couch most nights to show himself understanding and sometimes, Glinda wondered if it wouldn't have been easier to just let him kiss her and touch her and be done with it, but she only had to make out with him a tad more fiercely than she normally would for her stomach to clench in terror and he sensed her discomfort and left her be. It made Glinda feel like she had nothing to do here, like she didn't belong in a home with Fiyero, like she didn't belong anywhere. He was pleasant and generous, but he was home and she wasn't.
How much more she wanted Elphaba now. In this ocean of loss and confusion, the time she spent with Elphaba was the only thing that was truly her own, the only time she felt free. She had been much more careful about it, of course. That had been greatly helped by Elphaba's refusal to give Glinda refuge after she had been kicked out. How foolish of an offer that had been, she realized in retrospect. She had thought that, if they had the cover of a friendship, if they shared a room and a home, then their closeness might have an excuse and it would be less suspicious. She had asked Elphaba to join her at the shop to present the argument, but now that Elphaba had said no, Glinda saw the plan for what it had been: a silly girl's hopeful wish to keep a dirty affair squeaky clean. It couldn't be because it wasn't. It was best to keep it as tightly secret as possible.
They had not met in public since then. They texted and snapchatted constantly, and that part was definitely not squeaky clean. For every message Elphaba sent, Glinda sent another five, but they had gotten into a comfortable closeness. Glinda was content with that part of her life, at least. Or at least she would be if they had any opportunity to find themselves alone again. She could hardly believe this part of herself. For years, Glinda had worn her virginity like her favorite jacket, had gotten so used to it that the mere realization that she would now never be a virgin again had been a tough pill to swallow. But how sweet Elphaba made it for her with the flush at her cheeks when Glinda had touched her, the heat of her. Glinda had it at her fingertips' memory always.
It took much planning ahead and waiting for Fiyero to be out of the apartment for long enough, but she had finally managed it. He had a soccer game in another city and would spend the night out for practice before the game and though she had pretended to be contrite about it, Glinda had claimed she was simply unable to attend. That was a bold lie, or maybe half a truth. She couldn't attend, not when that would mean missing the opportunity of green skin under her fingers and kisses so sweet they made her ache. Fiyero didn't need to know any of that. Nobody needed to know, not him, not her parents, not Milla, and certainly not Pfannee and Shenshen.
"And this is it," Glinda announced to Elphaba as she let her through the door, squeezing her hand. "Home sweet home?"
Elphaba was a fish out of water, looking around the room like her fight or flight instinct was struggling against itself for her dear life. Neither side won and she simply took a few cautious steps.
"And you said that…"
"It'll be just us," Glinda promised, shrugging off her coat and dropping it on the back of a chair. Her hair made a ripple of curls as she shook it from her beanie and she caught Elphaba staring. She winked. "You can make yourself comfortable, you know."
Elphaba took a moment but did end up taking off her coat. Glinda observed her take a careful seat on the couch, legs close together and back straight. She made a show of sashaying the few steps between them, but was so unused to such seductive arts that she ended up stumbling the last step and she was laughing when she landed herself on Elphaba's lap, caught by strong thin arms. She nuzzled into her neck. How she had missed that embrace. For a brief moment, even in this place that was supposed to be but never could be, she felt at home.
"Elphie," she whispered against a green cheek. "I'd like you to touch me."
Elphaba's hands were shaking around Glinda's waist and there was a sharp breath, something like a snort or a sigh.
"I am touching you," she said, hands squeezing ever so softly.
Glinda giggled. Her legs parted slightly and Elphaba's lips made a thin line.
"How about you touch me more?"
She kissed her, cajoling her, playing with her hair, her cheeks. They were burning up. It gave them a hint of a pink blush. Pink used to be Glinda's favorite color, but that was before the green hurricane came into her life.
"I'd like that a lot," she added, toying with the buttons of her shirt.
With a hesitant hand, Elphaba helped her unbutton them, wonderfully and awesomely staring down at the unveiled skin underneath. Glinda shrugged the shirt off, dropping it to the floor. She pointed to her neck and, after a blank stare and eyes blinking, Elphaba pressed a soft kiss where the finger pointed. She remained there, breathing in, nuzzling into Glinda's hair.
"You know I've thought about you so much," Glinda whispered. Slowly, she reached behind her back and, with much effort she tried to hide to keep the mood intact, she undid her bra. Elphaba's fingers were numb but with much pointing and help, the bra was done with as well and Glinda's breasts were cupped ever so gently. "Do you know that?"
Elphaba shook her head and Glinda wasn't too sure if it was in answer or in disbelief. Squirming, she tried to pull Elphaba's hand on a downward path, craving more contact of a much more intimate sort but Elphaba was hesitant.
"I… I've never…" She breathed in, out, pursed her lips briefly. "Will you show me?"
Glinda smiled. She looked into Elphaba's eyes, cupping her sharp jaw with her hand, thumb stroking the soft green cheek. Her thumb caught onto her lips, tracing the shape of them. Elphaba's eyes fluttered.
"I'll show you," she promised.
She didn't know where that confidence came from. Elphaba made her feel brave. It was that awakening of desire inside her, the discovery that she could, in fact, crave to be intimate with someone's body, that made her want to give without reservation, including giving herself.
"Make me feel good?" She said. "Elphie, please…"
She took Elphaba's hand to her mouth, pressing kisses against it before pulling it down between her legs. Her skirt was pushed up, her underwear pulled down. Elphaba was eager enough to learn and when Glinda used green fingers to stroke herself in exactly the way she liked, Elphaba replicated the motions diligently and perfectly. Glinda sighed, throwing her head back. Palm grinding against her clit in a slow torrid rhythm, knuckles pressing inside underneath, her hand soon only guided Elphaba's and then dropped it entirely as she latched her arms around Elphaba's neck. Her face buried against dark, dark hair and she breathed hot and heavy.
"That feels so nice, Elphie," she whispered and was rewarded by a deeper touch, heavier. "You make me feel so good."
Elphaba was silent, entirely at her task. Glinda could only enjoy the ride as it came, feeling for once in her life entirely like herself, unveiled and whole. There was nothing to hide from Elphaba, nothing to fear. She moaned, cupping her own breast to give a hint to Elphaba and soon green lips were pursing around a nipple and Elphaba sighed into her. The black curtain of hair was falling all over Glinda and she combed fingers through it.
"That's it," she said, parting her legs to grant Elphaba better access, "Just like that, darling."
It was a moment lost in time. Entirely in Elphie's good hands, Glinda forgot everything about their situation that wasn't immaculate. There was nothing that mattered beyond the heat building up inside her, beyond Elphaba's fingers and mouth and that gorgeous black hair. She came as naturally, as beautifully as she ever had, falling soft into Elphaba's embrace, who held her close and let her gain back her breath. Glinda smiled against her neck. She could stay all night like this, she would have.
"Did you like that?"
Elphie's voice was little and shy, very much unlike herself but Glinda supposed that they were allowed to be different people in here, in the secret of closed doors. Her fingers twirled into black hair and she pressed two, three brief kisses against Elphaba's mouth before answering.
"Elphie, you were perfect. You are perfect. C'mere."
It was an awkward rearrangement of long limbs and she had Elphaba all to herself again, to cherish and to hold and to give back everything she had been gifted just before. With green legs around her shoulders and bony hands gripping her hair, Glinda asked herself, not for the first time, if she loved Elphaba. Elphaba shook and moaned and groaned under her and Glinda told herself that it did not matter. Whatever there was between them, it was their little secret and it was here to stay.
Chapter 18: In which Elphaba doubts
Elphaba's mind is overworking and I'm so sorry this is the beginning of the angst. The fic WILL have a happy ending!
Elphaba's relentless mind could not be soothed.
She had never really been one to worry. Of course, even the worst of hypotheses and theories about her future had always been of interest, but they used to be a purely intellectual prospect and she had detached herself from all emotional value assigned to such wonderings. It was easy for Elphaba to not be emotional, which was why the little game Glinda played with her put her so far out of her comfort zone that she did not know what to make of the thoughts that kept swarming her mind.
So Glinda wanted her. She had said so on more than one occasion and yet the more she said it, the less Elphaba understood the meaning of the words and the more it muddied her reflections. Elphaba was not used to be desired in any shape or form. Even her mere presence was unwanted by most and she had never truly felt at peace with another person. When Glinda told her she wanted her, she was telling Elphaba that all her observations and experiences thus far in life had been false. In the best of situations, she was wrong. In the worst…
They had not seen each other since that night at Fiyero's. They texted, though Elphaba's already terse replies were far and few between. It wasn't right, it wasn't real and it wasn't the way Elphaba had wanted it. The finals gave her an excuse to refuse to meet up again but she knew it would only buy her so much time. In truth, a meager affair of sneaking around and having sex at Glinda's boyfriend's apartment was not what Elphaba had imagined for herself and much less for Glinda. Make me feel good, Glinda had said. Was this what Glinda was worth? And was she just a toy for Glinda to play with, a button to press to feel good about herself? Elphaba had never known that she made anyone feel better by being around them. The whole situation was a lie, every morsel of it. The more she allowed herself to think about it, the less sense it made. She hadn't replied to Glinda in days.
At least, Nessarose was at Frexspar's for the week, with Christmas time coming around the corner. Her absence was a blessing, for once. Elphaba had moped around her room for the past few days, most of that time spent in bed. Nessarose was a miracle and a pain in the neck and, though she loved her dearly, Elphaba was glad to not be around her at a time where her emotions were sorely lacking any self-restraint. She wasn't used to feeling much. She hadn't felt in a very long time, or nothing beyond anger and annoyance. But here in the secret of this room, there was no one to witness the way pain bloomed and spread like an ink stain and she could spend her time overthinking every aspect of this doomed affair as she wished.
Or she could have, had the doorbell not rung several times loudly, followed by a heavy knock. Of course, it couldn't be anyone else than…
"Oh, you foolish child, I know you're in there!"
Elphaba wanted nothing better than to ignore the voice and cries, but she supposed she had been raised better than that by the very same person who was now at the door. Rolling out of bed where she had read and re-read the history of her conversations with Glinda for hours, she put on a pair of jeans and opened the door to a fuming Nanny.
"Is this the example you're setting for your… Oh, Elphaba. Where is your mother?"
Elphaba shrugged, letting Nanny pass inside. She put on the kettle to make her some tea. Nanny liked being well received. Looking around the room in obvious judgment, she took a few steps inside and sat herself at the kitchen table, scrubbing a dubious stain with the corner of a napkin.
"She's been out again, hasn't she?"
Elphaba had not realized her mother was out. She felt outside of time, outside of reality. Was this what love was supposed to feel like? She could not believe that. If this was the effect it was having on her, then it couldn't possibly be love. Besides, how could a mean green thing like her ever love anything? How could she ever be loved?
"And darling Nessie is at Frexspar, I trust."
"Left on Sunday," Elphaba nodded.
She offered Nanny a choice of tea, who picked the darkest most bitter one. There were no cookies left in the jar − Elphaba had wolfed them all down days ago.
"Nanny worries about her," Nanny said, shaking her head. "Ah, but how are you, then?"
Elphaba had been asking herself the same question. It was insufferable, the way being with Glinda each time made her feel so cared for, only for the feelings to drop so much lower than she thought possible as soon as they were apart. Doubt had settled in and taken dominion over everything she did and thought and she hated that any such person could hold so much control over her life. But how sweet she made this torture, how addictive. Living with Elphaba had taught her to be wary of addictions.
"I'm fine," she answered dryly. "Nanny, what brings you here?"
Nanny served her own cup of tea from the kettle that had just started gurgling. She served another for Elphaba, who had asked for no such thing, with two spoonfuls of sugar.
"To check up on the two of you, of course," she replied with evidence. "Oh, little frog, I don't know what is becoming of your mother. She hasn't answered my last two calls and you know Nanny hates being ignored."
Elphaba could only think that her mother must be out wherever she wanted and hiding away whatever secret of her own she must have. In a twisted way, she herself was becoming what she always thought she would stray away from. Was it hidden in her genes? She had always known she was a shame to her friends and family but she thought it on behalf of her green complexion and bad temperament, the latter of which was inherited from Melena. She had never thought that it came with the package deal of being an unfaithful liar and a breaker of good relationships. Did her mother feel this guilty when she spread her filthy lies? Did she ever regret her actions in this way? But then, she was cheating on Frexspar and if there was ever a man less deserving of respect and attention…
"Maybe she's disappeared for good," she said, "and you'll be rid of her secrets."
Nanny was fixing her, her expression hidden by the cup of tea she was holding to her mouth to cool down. There were only her piercing brown eyes that seemed to see right through Elphaba. She averted the stare, drinking her own cup of tea. It was boiling hot and sweeter than she liked but she pretended not to mind.
"I've been worried about the two of you," Nanny went on. "I know she's been trying to hold it together for Nessarose, but with Frex taking her more often than he has the right and Melena's tendencies to… Well, what's a Nanny to do except worry for her sweetlings?"
In all of Elphaba's self-centered woes, her mother had been the last of her concerns recently. The truth was that she had near as given up on ever setting Melena on the right path, if there was ever such a thing. There had been no more beers in the fridge since that fight a couple months ago, but Melena and Elphaba had not mentioned any such matter again and there was no way to know how she fared. The apartment was dirty as ever, but Nanny could well see that without Elphaba pointing it out. Were there drugs hidden somewhere, more alcohol? Did it even matter? Melena's path towards self-destruction seemed inevitable and Elphaba was starting to wonder if it did not exist entirely outside of her zone of preoccupation. She did not seem to have been better or worse since Elphaba's little affair had taken a grasp on her mind and stopped her from caring about her mess of a parent.
"Ah yes, well, you see, I really don't care what she does."
Nanny was shaking her head.
"You simply cannot say that, duckie, you can't! What's gotten to you today? You seem…"
Elphaba kept her eyes fixed on her cup of tea. If she dared look up and cross Nanny's gaze, then surely she would crumble under it and confess everything that needed to be said.
"Elphie…" Nanny said with much more tenderness than she had since she arrived. "Elphie, you know you can tell Nanny anything…"
That had never been true and would never be true, because Elphaba was a wicked gangly thing who never overshared when she could undershare instead, and she would never descent so low as to have to talk things out with anyone. That even included Nanny. But then, Melena Thropp proved that she had even an ounce of protective maternal instinct left in her and decided that this was the exact right moment to barge into the apartment, run to the sink and throw up as heavily as a seasick first time traveler.
"What the…" Elphaba cried out in disgust, taking a few steps away.
Nanny had rushed to Melena's side to brush her hair out of her face, and was patting her back gently.
"Made it," Melena grumbled victoriously before another fit of retching took over and the kitchen was filled with a nasty stink.
Nanny was shaking her head in judgment and Elphaba took the occasion to make her escape. Damn her mother in every occasion but this one, and even so. In some outfit that hardly covered her body despite the freezing cold of late December, there was no doubt what Melena might have been up to that got her in this state. It was telling of Elphaba's sorrow that she hardly even cared. After Nanny gave her one last knowing look, she left the kitchen and slammed the door to her bedroom shut. On her bed, her phone was lying all forlorn and miserable. Elphaba grabbed it with anger and found three new messages from Glinda.
hey are my messages sending? I think the network is being weird
if you read this please reply okay?
when are you free? I have the place to myself on friday night…
There was a picture attached that Elphaba deleted without looking at it, and the rest of the messages as ell for good measure. She threw the phone down towards her bag where it landed, then slid down to the floor. She didn't bother to pick it up. If Glinda wanted her itch scratched again, she could very well do it on her own. Elphaba pulled the covers over herself, buried her face into the pillow and went to sleep.
Chapter 19: In which Elphaba has a secret
Boq and Elphaba catch up for the first time in a while.
Much as Fiyero intended to keep their affair going despite the difficulty of living arrangements, the reality of sneaking around was much less attractive than it had been. Consequently, Boq and him saw each other was less often, too. More than once, he had offered a visit to Boq's before retracting himself from it because Glinda had other plans after all. It seemed that every day he had new stories of having taken Glinda here and being invited there and though Boq knew he had no right to be jealous, not really, he would much rather not have been made witness to this bliss of newlyweds learning to live together for the first time. And yet, how much he wanted to be living Glinda's part of this fairy tale happy ending. Instead, he was the ugly stepsister, the spare one, the boring nobody whose story wasn't even in the book. How stupid to ever think he could compete with the princess of the castle.
Maybe a tardy sense of shame, maybe a disinterest for Boq now that their affair couldn't blossom as easily as it had, but Fiyero was being ever more devoted to Glinda as time went on. Could it be that whatever Boq had been feeling and thought was at least shared to some degree was just a figment of his own imagination? Could it be that Fiyero had seen in it nothing but a convenient way to get his dick wet and that, in the presence of Glinda at home, Boq was no longer of use to him? But then, why did he specify that Glinda and him had not been having sex even in their new situation? Was it to stir up Boq's jealousy? At least, they had not gone as far as to come to the coffee shop together again − Boq thought that Glinda might have been avoiding the place now, for good reasons. Still, the arrangement with Fiyero seemed to be slowly heading towards its natural end and every time they met was littered with mentions of Glinda and whatever the perfect couple had done together.
The worst part of it must be how oblivious Fiyero seemed to be to Boq's discomfort. Of course, he couldn't entirely be blamed. Boq had not said a thing and Fiyero, though friendly and receptive, was not a mind reader. Still, Boq didn't think it too much to comprehend that maybe the life of a dirty little secret, the boy on the side, wasn't ideal for him and that Fiyero should reconsider his take on the whole situation. But then, if he hated the state of their affair so much, he could well tell Fiyero that everything was over, couldn't he? Except that he couldn't, he wouldn't, because that would mean letting go of the best thing that had ever happened to him and he wasn't yet willing to go back to the solitude of before. Fiyero made him feel guilty and shameful, but he had been the first person to make him feel special, to want him. Though he was starting to wonder what parts of him exactly Fiyero had been interested in.
That was the great mystery, in the end. Boq didn't think of himself as the ugliest boy alive, far from it, but he had stared at his reflection all too many times to think himself so attractive, so handsome that he just couldn't be resisted. The shortness was part of it, though he was much more bothered by the ears sticking out − he had tried to grow out his curly hair to the effect of hiding them but without much success − by the plainness of his face and manners. If Fiyero didn't want a relationship with him, if the whole affair was utterly devoid of feelings, then why choose him to warm up his bed? Or was this all part of a greater trick, a careful choice of the most willing bed partner who would also pose the least threat to his current relationship? Even if he had wanted, and Boq had no such intention, he couldn't just confess the affair to Glinda, to anyone. Who would ever believe that someone like Fiyero could ever choose someone like him even for such a mindless act as sex? But then, the sex they had been having was anything but mindless, anything but lacking emotions. All parts of the puzzle were angled differently and none of them fit together.
In the midst of what was sure to be the most intriguing and painful investigation of his life, he had lost almost all other social life, tame as it used to be. When Elphaba arrived at the coffee shop that day, he almost thought her a mirage, a trick of the winter sun. Crope and Tibbett had gone home for the holidays and had not come back yet and though Elphaba had no more family holidays to celebrate than him, fierce enemy of her Christian father as she was, she had been missing in action as of late.
"Elphie," he sighed in odd relief. "Black with no sugar, right?"
She shook her head. Elphaba was stern at any given time but she seemed downright severe right now and Boq frowned.
"What then? We got the seasonal if y…"
"Boq, do you wanna grab a drink after work? Somewhere else? Or your place, I don't care."
That came out of the blue. Elphaba and Boq had not visited each other's homes since they had been children and her mother sent her out to spend some quality time with the gardener. Still, hard to suffer as she was, taunting and caustic and so far beyond the line of teasing that she ventured into bullying sometimes, Elphaba was his friend. Seeing her so distraught made Boq forget about his own troubles even just for a minute. He liked that, at least. He liked her.
"Sure," he said. "Erm, in three hours? After closing?"
She seemed relieved by the answer and he wondered what that said about him that she thought the negative was possible. Or what that said about her.
"I'll take that black with no sugar till then," she said.
She sat herself at her usual table that had become not so usual as of late and pulled out three different books all marked with notes and annotations on all margins possible. That, at least, was very much like her. The rest of the shift wasn't so dreadful as the start of it had been.
They walked back to Boq's place in silence. He wasn't too sure if he ought to break it but in the absence of any indication one way or another from his friend, he preferred to play the safer option. Even once he opened his door to her, she had no words, standing awkwardly in front of the entrance.
"Tea?" He asked and she nodded. "Take a seat, then."
She glanced around and took a few long strides to his desk, grabbing the chair to plant it next to his armchair, gesturing him to sit beside her as she took the least comfortable seat. Elphaba had always liked balancing herself off of chairs. She took the tea cup he offered, thanking him mindlessly.
"Now, what I'm going to say will sound ridiculous and stupid," she started and Boq could not help a smile.
"Oh, and I'm not used to that from Crope and Tibbett?"
She did not return the smile, instead taking a sip of boiling hot tea, gulping it down with an odd clicking sound.
"And normally I would never come to you for anything." Boq frowned but Elphie was hardly even looking at him. "Only, I thought someone like you might know what to do."
Boq preferred not to ask what kind of person she thought he was. He was not sure he knew that of himself anyways.
"Do you ever…" She started and cut herself short before resuming, winning one way or another the inner discussion she seemed to be having with herself. "Do you ever meet someone and…" She sighed. "But there's someone already? What would you do then?"
Boq's heart clenched with deep unease he would never be able to express even to himself. There was no way Elphaba could know… But then, there was no way Elphaba could be talking about any situation of her own either, was there? Since when did Elphie court married boys, or at the very least already taken ones? That would have been a convincing line of questioning if Boq hadn't been doing the exact same thing. Who would have thought that from him as well? There was no telling what Elphaba did in her spare time. If the past few months had proven anything, it was that the least expected could happen.
"What you would do?" He repeated. "What you should do, you mean…"
Elphaba nodded. Her fingers were clasping her cup so very tight he was afraid she would burn herself. He handed her a napkin, lifted her hand to put it between burning glass and green fingers. Elphaba startled at the touch but let him do so.
"I think you… don't mess with other couples," he said slowly. "That's a limit, right? You can't do that."
He had never been able to see through Elphaba's eyes. In two decades of friendship with Elphaba, this was the closest to a personal conversation he was having with her and it came through the veil of pretense and unsaid clues. Whatever she meant for real, he couldn't tell. If she meant this as a sermon on him, then she was not going about it as best as she could. If this was meant as a revelation on herself, then it was opaque and fruitless.
"I think so as well," she said. "You know I hardly believe in good and evil, of course, but…"
"Of course you don't," he rolled his eyes.
"It's not so much that I think of it as evil," she said, "but it does sound like it brings its lot of deception and lies and hurt feelings. That hardly seems worth it for the price of some good sex, does it?"
Boq didn't know what Elphaba knew, how much she knew, but her words resonated through him and he felt the sudden weight of guilt, heavier than it had ever been. But even as he was overwhelmed by them and the knowledge of what he had to do, there was an odd sense of peace in him. Whatever it was that Elphaba was hiding, it was likely she would not admit to it, but it did mean something. He was not alone.
"You're right," he said. "It isn't worth it."
Chapter 20: In which Fiyero has a question
I deeply apologize for everything about this chapter.
Glinda heard Fiyero's words but her mind refused to register them. She made him repeat a second, third time and still the question was what she had heard and finally, she admitted she mustn't have gotten it wrong.
"Will I marry you?"
Fiyero gave a teasing smile.
"People usually say yes or no."
Glinda hesitated. They were at their favorite diner and Fiyero had ordered her everything she liked best. That was nothing out of the usual, but after dessert came around and he gave her his own slice of lemon cheesecake, he had pulled a little square box out of his jacket and she had lost all her means. She felt like everybody was staring although, late at night, it was just as likely that no one was paying much attention. It was romantic enough that she could imagine herself telling the story without shame to all her friends later, if she said yes. She bit her lip.
"This is so… Fiyero, why now?"
She knew she was breaking all rules of social convenience by delaying an answer, but Fiyero looked hardly perturbed. With the hand that wasn't holding the ring, she reached across the table to hold his.
"Why not?" He replied and the easiness in his voice almost made her want to instantly reply with a positive. That would have been rushed. Glinda was many things, but impulsive was not usually chief among her qualities. "We've been dating years."
"Yeah, in high school," she retorted. "I'm not saying no, I'm just… "
"Over the moon? Lost for words?"
She snorted, though he did have a way to make her feel at ease. In truth, her relationship with Fiyero had been going strong and stronger since she had moved in. They had learned to make time and space around each other and though it was different than before, it was also better, more interesting to be with him much more often. She enjoyed his company, his jokes, his compliments. He was a good living partner, a good partner at all, probably. She still loved him, she did, because she had loved him all this time and if things were better than they had been, then she must love him even more. It wouldn't make sense not to.
"I'm flattered," she said pointedly. "Though you did manage to ask this in January. How about before Christmas, where I could have shoved it up my cousins' …"
She let the sentence end for her and Fiyero laughed. Somehow, it did not feel appropriate to curse during a proposal, long-winded as it was. The competition she had with her cousins of a same age was of no importance if she could not rub in their face every step ahead of them. But then, even just the mere thought of bragging about an engagement was not as victorious as it once might have been. At Christmas, Glinda had been moping and not just because nobody had asked for any news from Elphaba. It was to be expected that the Arduennas or Uplands would not get too attached to the green girl. It was most unexpected that she had.
"But we're so young…"
"Age is just a number," he smiled. "Glinda, I love you, and we've been getting on so well, and why not get on for the rest of our lives?"
They had, that much was true. Elphaba had been a wall of silence or near enough as to make no matter and only in her absence did Glinda realize how much of a barrier she had been to her relationship with Fiyero. That was stupid, of course, for that actualization to take this long. In truth, Glinda had thought of her little trysts with Elphaba as something entirely of her own and separated from her relationship in every way. Fiyero had always been the boyfriend she could bring along, she could be seen with, she could share a life with and have a future with. The more she allowed herself to give him back the space he was supposed to have in her life, the more he filled it and the better they handled each other. The other night, she had let him kiss her through an entire episode of whatever dumb TV show he had put on − at least that had meant she had missed that. The less she thought about Elphaba, handsome green Elphaba who had spurned her without a word, the more appealing Fiyero seemed. It was all a matter of watering the grass on the right side of the fence. The side her parents approved of and encouraged.
"No, I do love you," she replied, because that had to be true. "I just… We don't have any money."
"No, you don't have any money," he joked. Seeing her frown, he capitulated. "Look, I got a job and I know you don't want to admit it but you could find another one. Besides, I'm sure your parents would be thrilled for a wedding and…"
"My parents?" She cried out. "Did they set you up for this?"
Fiyero's eyes widened and he raised an apologetic hand.
"No! Of course not, this is just my idea!"
What an idea it was, too. Glinda was torn, more than ever, between what made sense, what went according to what she knew and believed, and what the tiny voice at the back of her mind was telling her. She had not told Fiyero about Elphaba. She had not told anyone. Even Milla had not mentioned it again and Glinda would be damned if she broached that prickly issue with anybody of her own accord. If Fiyero had made his offer weeks ago, Glinda knew she would have refused him. Back then, she had been so engrossed in whatever fleeting feeling she thought was budding between Elphaba and herself. She had to have been wrong about that, she had to. If it had truly been happening, then Elphaba would not have turned her nose on her. It had to have been all in her mind.
But then, didn't she owe to Fiyero at least the barest threads of honesty? If they were to build a marriage, if they were to be together always and to be husband and wife and one in spirit and − she shuddered − in flesh, shouldn't she at least tell him about her adventure on the side? Didn't he deserve the full extend of it? She stared at the ring as if it would give her any answer, as if there was any other choice than the inevitable one she could feel looming on her.
"Well, what do you say?"
Glinda looked at him and saw him, dear honest Fiyero who had done nothing wrong, who was opening up his heart to her. She might have a stain on her conscience, but burdening him with it would be inconsiderate. Their reputations were both on the line, their happiness. This was what happiness meant, a loving husband, a man at her side the rest of her life, her parents' blessing and her friends and family's envy and a big house in the suburbs with a garden and a gardener and everything she had ever wanted. She could have it all. Fiyero was offering her a future.
She thought of Elphaba and soft green skin under her fingers, long black hair twirled in them. Elphaba who wouldn't answer, Elphaba who was mean and rash and loud and green.
"Glinda? Don't you want us to be happy?"
Glinda put the ring on her finger and let herself embrace what it meant to be happy.
They went home and made out on the bed until Fiyero felt Glinda had had enough, and they got ready for sleep together but when the time came, Glinda's mind was relentless and she could not find sleep. She watched him next to her in bed, the way his chest heaved with every breath, one long coil of hair dancing in front of his nose. She had always liked the shape of his nose, the soft line of his jaw. He was handsome. He was perfect. She liked him and she loved spending time with him and she wanted to be around him, so why was happiness so full of sorrow? Why was the best day of her life crippling her with guilt and panic? She slipped out of bed and slept on the couch.
The next day, she messaged Elphaba setting up a meeting at the coffee shop. They had to talk.
Chapter 21: In which Elphaba talks with her mother
Elphaba is just out of talking with Glinda and comes home with a volcano of emotions to handle.
This chapter is extremely meaningful to me so bear with me, okay.
Elphaba's hands were shaking despite herself and her eyes burning with unshed tears as soon as she left the shop. She didn't want to give Glinda the satisfaction of seeing those, though deep down, she knew that she would take no pleasure in it. Still, she left in a rush and walked so briskly back home that she was almost in sweat when she reached the building. She never had such difficulty opening the door − the key worked fine but it seemed her fingers were numb and she realized she was not wearing gloves and it was biting cold at night. It had started snowing at some point during Elphaba's brief stay at the coffee shop and snowflakes were covering her shoulders and arms. Every step to her apartment was painful, unstable, and she almost crashed down to the ground by the time she walked in.
"Now you've come just at the right time," Melena said cheerfully. "I've got you some of that vegan… Oh, woah. You look like shit, is something wrong?"
Elphaba's fingers rolled into fists and she made to pass by directly to her bedroom but was stopped by a hand catching her arm, pulling her back. Melena's eyes were wide with worry.
"Elphie, what's wrong?"
"Oh, like you care," Elphaba spat out. "Please, spare me the lies. I don't need that right now."
She was about to rush to her room, slam the door behind her to shut herself in when she remembered that Nessarose was there. Melena stopped her path again and gestured to the sofa. Elphaba wanted nothing less than to sit with her mother of all people for a late night chat. In fact, she wanted to never talk to any other person again because letting Glinda lure her into talking was where this had all begun, but Melena shoved a cup of hot tea into her hands, a box of biscuits on the coffee table, and sat herself down next to her.
"Don't you dare wake your sister," she said. "Frex will tell me I torture her and…"
She stopped under Elphaba's glare.
"Now, you don't just come home fuming like a furnace without saying a thing. I must know what's going on so…"
Elphaba rolled her eyes theatrically, putting down the cup of tea with a clang. Some of it spilled out onto her mom's fashion magazines. All the better.
"That's rich," she hissed. "Now you've started to care. Are you feeling guilty, Melena? Have you just noticed that I have a life of my own and you know nothing about it?"
Melena's mouth opened and closed a couple times like a stupid carp but Elphaba was not done.
"If you must know," she said with bitter emphasis, "I've just been told by the girl I was having a secret sex affair with for the past couple months that she's getting married to her boyfriend, she's broken my heart and I didn't even know I had one."
The tears threatened to roll down her cheeks and would have if Elphaba didn't rub them off furiously with shaky fists. Melena had no answer to that, it seemed. She went to the kitchen, grabbed a paper towel and started patting dry the coffee table where Elphaba's cup had spilled. Being done with that, she bunched up the towel patted Elphaba's thigh with a hesitant hand. She had never been one for overbearing motherly affection and it showed.
"So, erm… That girl…"
Elphaba wanted to roll her eyes again and go hide in her room but in the oddest way, the confession was making her feel slightly better, even if it had been uttered to the last person she would ever want to admit anything to.
"Yes, it's a girl, alright."
"What's she like?"
"Blonde," she said coldly. "Rich and privileged and overbearing and… beautiful and generous and sweet and blonde."
Memories of soft curls tickling her cheeks came flowing back to mind, the feeling of a thin waist between her hands and arms around her neck. She shuddered.
"So that's your type, huh…"
"I don't have a type," Elphaba retorted with mood. "Glinda's not my type, she just… happened."
"I didn't even know you were gay."
"Yeah, well, you know nothing about me, Mom. No shit."
Melena looked uncomfortable, not finding the words out of it. Elphaba was seeing a side of her mother she wasn't used to at all. But then, she was revealing a side of herself that she had never shown before either. It was odd, how her homosexuality had always felt like a burden she must prevent the world to know, another lasciviousness of her green soul. Now that it had been shared, it just felt like another facet of herself. Slowly, her fists loosened, her hands palming her lap awkwardly.
"So, erm… How long have you known?"
Elphaba had no real answer to that, but she supposed that all lesbians had to go through this line of questioning from one person or another at some point in their life. It was better than the alternative of abuse and disbelief. Better yet would be neither of those scenarios.
"I've never not known," she replied. "Look, I didn't say I wanted to talk about it and…"
She had no idea what Melena was thinking for she would not dare to look at her, but the calm voice was soothing her. If she could let herself believe that everything would be alright… Only there was Glinda, constantly in her mind, in her thoughts, in the memory of her hands and body. Glinda who had called on her and for just a moment, Elphaba had thought that reconciliation might have been possible, only…
"I said I didn't want to talk about it," Elphaba snapped. "She and I had our fun, if anything, you should be talking to her, you both like to fuck on the side, only you chose the affairs and she chose the marriage."
There was a long pause. Elphaba almost regretted her words, almost took them back, but as they had already been uttered, there was no way to move but forward. Melena nestled herself deeper into the couch, leaning her head against the back of it. Her eyes were closed.
"Is that why you think I left Frex?"
Elphaba had nothing to add to that and kept her dirty mouth shut. She shrugged.
"I didn't…" Melena sighed. "You never told me that either."
"Why else?" Elphaba blurted out, refraining from pointing out that Melena herself had never told her otherwise either.
Melena snorted cynically.
"Well, not to get into Nanny's good books, let me tell you that."
Elphaba wanted to smile, but thought that the timing might be ill suited. She grabbed a cookie and munched on it. Melena sighed.
"I left your father because he was being a dick to you," she said simply and Elphaba almost choked on the cookie. "And I didn't want you to grow up like that."
That was so far out of Elphaba's view of the world and of the Thropp marriage that she could hardly believe a word of it.
"You… did that… for me?"
It was Melena's turn to look guilty.
"I know I'm not the best mother," she said slowly, weighing the effect of her words on Elphaba. "Maybe not even a good one, but I'm not the worst either. I didn't want you to grow up… feeling like you did anyway, I suppose it was all in vain after all…"
Elphaba blinked. It was strange the way things worked, how even on the worst and darkest of nights, some light was still shining. She had never seen her mother under such angle. It was too faint to be blinding, but it was something.
"No," she said. "No, it wasn't in vain."
They looked at each other and even in the dim light and with the snow storm outside, they saw each other more perfectly than they had in years. Elphaba was the first to smile, readily answered by Melena who wrapped an awkward arm around her shoulders, bringing her close. Elphaba had grown much taller than her, but in this moment, she didn't feel too tall, too green, too different. She felt alright.
"You know," Melena said, "when I was your age… or actually probably younger… and I was sad about boys, you know what I did?"
Elphaba preferred not to give any of her educated guesses towards that question. They might have ruined the atmosphere of the conversation. It wasn't everyday she had a pleasant talk with her mother and this one was toying the line already. She shook her head.
"I talked to Nanny."
That was not part of any hypotheses she had formulated in her own mind. Nanny and Melena seemed on tense terms on any given day, though Elphaba was certain the blame was weighing heavier on her mother's side than Nanny's.
"Did you really?"
"I did, she can be… surprisingly insightful. Do you think she's ever had an affair? She never married."
Elphaba frowned at the sights the question evoked. Still, the offer was interesting.
"Do you want me to talk to Nanny?"
Melena patted her hand gently.
"I don't want you to do anything, frog. You can do whatever you like."
Luggage was packed that very night, a few days' clothes, toiletries and a heavy dose of vegan chocolate and just like that, Elphaba went on her way to Nanny's house. She lived a bit out of town. In the great move to the city when Elphaba had gone to college, Nanny had made it her business to stay close to the family, but not too close to the city center that she could hear the youngins out partying just right out her windows, as she put it. It was an hour's bus ride to her place, no more, but to Elphaba it seemed like an eternity, a lifetime of her buzzing thoughts going all directions.
Nanny's house was a lovely cottage by the sea, because what else could it ever be? Elphaba opened the gate of old wooden fence and walked the small brick way to the door. She looked around. A cat was peering at her through the bushes. She clicked her tongue and it dashed away. Sighing, she rang the doorbell. The door opened almost instantly. Nanny was wearing her baking apron and her cheeks were white with flour where she had rubbed a hand. Instantly, Elphaba was hugged and, as unused as she was to such embraces, she fell into it very willingly and hugged the old lady back.
"There, there," Nanny said, patting Elphaba's back. "Nanny was waiting for you."
Chapter 22: In which Nanny will provide
Elphaba arrives at Nanny for some comforting and finds the place occupied.
Nanny had been a Nanny every day of her life and even though she had no more children to take care of every morning these days, the ones she had raised from would forever be hers. As well as the ones she hadn't. Boq had been here two days when Elphaba arrived.
"What are you doing here?" Elphaba bit out as soon as she saw the boy in the rocking chair he had occupied this week.
Nanny shook her head as Elphaba passed inside, dropping a bag by the door, kicking off old brown Doc Martens.
"Now, now, is this how we talk to friends?"
Elphaba was looking properly subdued by the chiding, at least. Nodding at Boq, she grunted some apology.
"Nanny is going to get some bedding for the empty bed in the guest room," she announced. "And when she's done, her two sweetlings are going to sleep. It's too late to be wondering about."
Nanny had never planned her home to be just for herself, of course. The guest room was as well kept as her own. Occasionally, much too rarely to her taste, Nessarose came to visit − more often under Frexspar's supervision than Melena's, to her great disappointment. The man had never been the particular object of her affections, or her of his. Elphaba almost never came for a visit either, too busy in her books and studies and self-inflicted pains to care about her old Nanny. And Boq, well, there was a first time for everything. She had known him since he was even littler and though he had a bubbe of his own back on the farm, Nanny didn't mind being a replacement for him when he was far from family. He was a good little boy and had been a singularly polite guest here. That was more than could ever be said about the angry green thing next to him.
The beds were made and the children were put to it, though with much fussing and protesting from at least one of them. As Nanny walked to her own room, she could hear the twitterings of two worried little birdies but she paid them no mind. They were soon to die down and soon all that could be heard was the distant sound of a storm on the sea. Then only, Nanny fell asleep.
Boq was the first of them to wake up the next day, an early riser though never as early as Nanny. He was a timid little thing, all polite and nervous. For all the years Elphaba had known him, it was a pity he had not rubbed off on her more.
"Now, since you're up," she said, "You can help Nanny do the dishes. Her hands are old and starting to shake and she’ll spill water everywhere."
"I can help you cook," he offered.
The day before, he had attempted pancakes and had burned five of them while Nanny was taking her bath only to find her kitchen in smokes on her return. And before that, he had managed to burn orange juice. Nanny would not take any more risk, but there was no need to make the poor lost boy any more miserable than he seemed to be. She smiled at him and gestured him to the sink.
"Of course not," she said. "That's a Nanny's job."
He gave a self deprecating shrug and grabbed the dish cloth she was handing him, already rolling up his sleeves to get to work. What he lacked in natural skills and probably a great deal of good sense and practice, Boq made up with diligence and care. Nanny glanced at him from the corner of her eye though as not to make him uncomfortable and smiled to herself as she started on breakfast. Elphaba was still in that vegan craze of hers, so the options were limited, but there was fresh fruit from the farmers market Boq and her had been to yesterday so she settled for some oatmeal with slices of apples and plums. It would simple but good enough, and Elphaba had never much enjoyed eating anyways.
"So," she said gently, "Are you ready to talk yet?"
There was a pause in Boq's motions, dish water slowing to a still, but he resumed shortly.
But soon, Nanny thought. Soon.
It didn't take much longer for Elphaba to emerge. She had never been one to lazy around in bed once she was awake, something that could not be more opposite of her mother. What was just the same was their utter lack of good cheer in the morning, but Nanny supposed that some people had just a case of grumps ingrained in them. She gave Elphaba her best smile and a steaming bowl of fresh oatmeal with fruit.
"You'll eat now," she ordered her. "And then you'll talk."
Elphaba grunted what probably wanted itself a reply and dropped down on a chair by the table to eat. Nanny thought that was better than nothing at all. Boq was much better behaved, commenting on the breakfast and attempting conversation. Coffee was had and Elphaba started to regain humanity little by little. Progress. After breakfast, Nanny decided that the two of them required some stricter nannying. Shoving them into the bathroom one by one, she forced them into some self care she feared they would not exert on their own and, after all basic necessities were handled, pulled out her yarn basket.
"Each of you gets a ball and needles," she explained. "You can even choose your color. I want you to make whatever you want." She nodded at Boq, to whom she had just taught knitting the day before. "By the time you're out of yarn, you will have told your Nanny what you need to get out. Is that understood?"
Neither of them looked very happy about the perspective but nonetheless they were sat into armchairs, their legs covered with blankets and, cup of tea within reach, there was nothing to do but purl and knit. Elphaba was working purposely slow, for Nanny knew her to be much more proficient, but for the sake of it she let her take her time. Boq was still much newer and less experienced about the whole skill but that came at the cost of him focusing exclusively on it and keeping his mouth tied. After long minutes of silence had passed, Nanny put down her own needles on her lap and leaned forward, glancing between her two little fragile things. She settled for prying it out of Elphaba first, whatever that 'it' was, because she knew her best and because Boq seemed like he needed to be shown the way.
"So… I'm assuming there's a boy…"
But Boq was the first to crack. With a deep sigh, he sank back into his chair.
"There is," he whined.
Two heads snapped towards him and his face was complete terror. His needles dropped to the floor and he scrambled to pick them up.
"Well, my oh my," Nanny said, lowering her glasses on her nose, "If Nanny ever knew what she was getting herself into…"
Boq looked like he wanted to hide himself and to some extend, he was, under the blanket at his lap he was pulling up. Even more interesting than his own flushing face was the look on Elphaba's. Surprise, but also not.
"Now, this may need more explanations than just that, dearie, and…"
"You're sleeping with some guy," Elphaba blurted out. "Oh my god, I thought you meant me but you are having an affair, you dirty horse."
Nanny had thought that the naughty genes may have skipped a generation with Elphaba, but she found herself utterly clueless now with either chicks in front of her. Her needles clicked needlessly as she tried to pick them up.
"Nanny isn't quite following what you're…"
"How would I know anything? I don't know what's up with you!" Boq retorted, dropping the blanket. "You just barged in and asked to talk about affairs and I thought you'd found out about me and Fiyero and…"
"It's Fiyero?!" Elphaba cried. "Oh my god, it's Fiyero…"
Nanny had to put her foot down.
Her voice was not as strong as it used to be and the effort of shouting took a toll on her. She drank a long sip of tea before going on.
"What's this you're talking about? I hear affairs, I hear Fiyero… Who is this and who is having an affair?"
Both of them pointed at the other at the same time. Nanny shook her head in disbelief.
"And to think of your mothers raised you… Well, maybe not yours, Elphie, but that's another matter. So you're telling me there's a boy for you too?"
Green turned to pinkish purple and Elphaba's face shut down.
"Well, not a boy exactly…"
One child had been sort of an expected surprise, not that she had ever had a hint about him specifically but because she knew him little and there was much to learn about him. Elphaba, however, she had always thought she knew like the back of her hand.
"So you're telling me there is someone," Nanny prompted.
Elphaba started knitting again, a few rows of a scarf before she dropped the entire work again.
"I thought I'd tell you the other day," she told Boq without looking at him. "That's a lie, I didn't think I'd tell you, but I thought you had understood and… and still, no one knows."
"It's a girl?"
Boq was just as surprised as Nanny, which she thought spoke for her discernment as much as his.
"Well, Melena did tell me it was trouble of the heart…" Nanny muttered. "I never…"
"It's Glinda," Elphaba said and though that told nothing to Nanny, to Boq it seemed to be everything. His mouth dropped in a silent gasp, the needles falling off his hold again, only there was no effort to pick them up this time.
"You…" He pointed at Elphaba with a shaky finger. "Glinda's been cheating on Fiyero with you!"
Elphaba scoffed at the accusing tone.
"Now's not the time for splitting hairs at what the other did. Fiyero's been cheating on Glinda with you and do you see me make a big deal out of…"
"You just did! A minute ago!"
There was much bickering that Nanny didn't try to stop at first, but once it reached levels of noise her poor old ears could not suffer, she raised a hand and the two lost souls fell silent.
"If Nanny can have an opinion on this…"
They nodded with much reluctance.
"I had no idea that you were… are…"
"Homosexual?" Elphaba offered. "Gay, lesbian? A dy…"
"That you were the way you are, my sweetlings," Nanny insisted. "Now, your two friends, I knew about, those poor unfortunate boys, but…" She shook her head. "Let me understand this. You," she turned to Boq, then to Elphaba, "are having an affair with the same man who is seeing the woman you're having an affair with."
There was a strangled laugh coming from Elphaba but it came out bitter and humorless.
"And you can't just do what… how do you young people call that, have you asked your mother, Elphie, a good switcheroo?"
"They got engaged," Boq said simply. "They're gonna get married."
Nanny tried to process everything that she had learned. How saddened it made her to know her little ones unhappy, all the more so when she could do nothing about it. Sometimes, there was just nothing to do.
"Now, you know what they say, then," Nanny said, looking at her two children meaningfully. Neither of them seem to be catching her drift, however.
"Plenty of fish in the sea?" Boq tried but Nanny shook her head.
"This too shall pass," she said.
And it would, one way or another.
Please comment if you've read! Even just a few words so I know I'm not screaming at the void.
Chapter 23: In which Glinda receives some advice
Glinda is swimming in wedding preparations and exhausted.
Glinda had never thought of a wedding as something that would be a struggle, not with Fiyero with whom everything was ever so easy. Of course, she had had reservations about marriage and more specifically the marriage bed, but that was an entirely different matter. Being a bride, picking a dress and flowers, had all seemed like a wonderful dream when she was a child but now that there was work to be done for it, she was not so sure.
"Glinda, darling, you don't look quite like yourself," her mother said over the kitchen counter.
Planning a wedding was significantly more effort than Glinda had ever wanted to put into it, or into anything for that matter. It was tedious work. Choosing between pink or yellow flowers was easy enough − who wouldn't pick pink? − but then there were ten or twenty sorts of pink flowers and there was to be matching drapery and the tables had to be numbered and clothed and decorated and the list of guests to be established. How many could they afford to invite, not just financially but socially, and how big of a difference between the bride and groom sides was acceptable? And all that before they had even started to think of the rings or the dress.
Glinda looked up from the schematics of table dressing she had been staring at for who knew how long. Her mother and her friends were all turned to her and she hid her discomfort behind a polite smile.
"I'm sorry, I'm just… What time is it again?"
Shenshen pointed at the clock behind her. Six thirty. That meant Fiyero might not be back for another hour and a half at least. She refrained a sigh.
"Where were we?"
Pfannee looked annoyed at the interruption but went on about the advantages and disadvantages of a wedding in each season of the year. In her mind, Glinda had always imagined a wedding in summer, so her golden curls shone all the better in the sun. That had been when she was a child, however. Her favorite season was winter now and she thought of snowflakes on dark black hair and of cold green hands she could warm up between hers and… She startled again and the table turned to her in a more marked irritation.
"Sweetheart," her mother said gently, "I think you might be tired from all this… From all of this. We'd best let you rest a little bit and come back tomorrow." She turned to the girls. "Hadn't we?"
Shenshen and Pfannee were quick to jump to their feet, packing the thick and daunting binders of wedding organization Glinda was sure they must have kept long before her engagement. Goodbyes were exchanged, a longer hug than usual from her mother with a caress on the cheek. Milla hugged her last and looked like she had something to say, but Glinda shrugged and nothing was said. The door closed behind them, their steps echoing in the hallway until it was all silent again.
The decision took a fraction of a second. It came to Glinda's mind and instantly, she was rushing to grab her coat, wrapping every piece of woolen protection she could around her face and hands in this disaster of a winter, and after waiting a few minutes to be completely sure that there would be no finding her out if perchance her guests lingered in the hall, she ran out of the apartment and into the streets.
She still remembered the way to Elphaba's place, though it had been a few months since Thanksgiving and she had never been invited there again. She took her car only for the sake of rapidity, not that long till Fiyero would be back after all, and how well would he take the absence of his bride to be when he came home from a long day of classes and work? Soon, she was at the door and reminisced of a kiss that had been given here. Her cheeks warmed up in the winter wind. She was about to look for Elphaba's name on the near illegible list of door bells when the door opened to some old man looking at her with anger.
"Lookin' for someone?" He spat out.
"Erm, Elphaba. Elphaba Thropp?"
She squirmed on her feet, glancing right and left, but she was certain of the building − how could she not be?
"Elphaba Thropp," she repeated, articulating more clearly. "A young woman, tall and green and lives with…"
"Oh, that one," the man replied with disgust. "Fourth floor. A bean pole and a cripple, that lady sure got no luck…"
For the sake of time, Glinda kept for herself all remarks she might have made to the man, though they were numerous and detailed. She walked into the building and, in the absence of an elevator, climbed the steps as he had instructed. There was only one apartment on the floor. A small metal plate indicated "THROPP", so Glinda knocked at the door. It was brown and dirty. She wondered how often people cleaned their doors, if anybody ever did. She couldn't remember her parents' house having dirty doors, but then, she thought her mom must not know much about that either. It was a maid's business and from the neighborhood and the building, Glinda would have been extremely surprised if anybody a mile around had ever hired a maid.
The door opened to a woman who was most certainly not Elphaba, though the resemblance between them was striking enough that there was no mistake about knocking the right door, if anything else had been unclear. This woman was a Thropp, assuredly. She was younger than Glinda might have thought for someone old enough to have birthed Elphaba, or maybe that was the way she was dressing. Beautiful, though such a thing almost went without saying when talking about a relation from Elphie. Their features were near identical in many aspects but the one. Tan white skin, copper brown hair, the woman could not have been less green if she had tried. Same long nose and sharp face, and their eyes were the same, too. They were currently fixing Glinda with a bored expression.
"I… Erm, hello, is Elphie home?"
She was looked at from head to toes. Glinda had the impression that Elphaba must not get many visits.
"Come in," the woman said and Glinda tried to remember her name. She was certain Elphaba must have told her at some point.
Glinda walked inside. Something smelled strongly of cinnamon, like someone had gone overboard with a scented candle. There were plants here and there across the apartment, some books. The place was small but relatively orderly − she could imagine Elphaba living here quite easily. There was no sign of her anywhere, however.
"Elphie's not here," Elphaba's mother confirmed. "She's visiting our Nanny for a few days. Didn't tell me she expected visit from…"
She looked at Glinda expectantly, who was standing around ill at ease, unsure what to do. At least, small talk was among the things she could manage, odd as she was feeling.
"Glinda," she replied. "Pleasure to meet you."
"Glinda…" She repeated and let the name linger before shaking herself out of whatever she had fallen into, nodding sharply. "Glinda. I'm Elphaba's mom, call me Melena. Something to drink?"
"If you happened to have some tea," Glinda replied, though her heart was sinking at the prospect of having come this way without the reward of seeing Elphaba, at how long she had gone without seeing her.
They sat in the living room, which Glinda soon noticed must have been someone's bedroom as well. The couch was pulled back into its sofa shape but there was a pile of bed linens on an armchair. Glinda politely sat in another, crossing her hands on her lap while tea was being served, and cookies that she refrained from gorging herself with.
"You know, Glinda, I'm not sure what that girl of mine has told you about me," Melena said as she sat down heavily on the couch, "But I'm not completely stupid." She grabbed her own mug of tea and drank a sip from it. "I know who you are."
Glinda wasn't sure she had been expecting that, but she also couldn't say it came as a complete surprise. She looked down at the steaming tea in her mug and nodded sadly.
"Of course, I don't need to bore you with all the promises, I won't tell anyone, your secret is safe with me, yadda-yadda-yadda. I don't even know who I'd tell who would care, but I'm telling you. Elphaba doesn't tell me much but she told me that."
Glinda could only let herself be talked to, could only sit passively as the conversation went by her, as her life went by her. She could only hope for the best.
"I'm not judging you," Melena said and that, at least, was a surprise. "And now that I'm seeing you, I guess I can see why Elphie fell for you. You're looking sweeter than a donut. Do you wanna take off your coat? You look like you're uncomfortable."
Glinda was uncomfortable, though taking off her coat and everything else only helped slightly.
"I'd been hoping to… to…"
"You've got some nerves," Melena said with a smirk, holding up to Glinda the plate of cookies she had brought out. "Showing your face here after breaking my daughter's heart…"
Glinda opened her mouth but she couldn't find any possible satisfying answer to the accusation. It rang much too true. She took a cookie and remained silent.
"What I suggest to you is this: you tell me everything I need to know about your little affair and in exchange for that, I won't tell Elphie you came. She won't want to know that. Deal?"
That sounded like the opposite of a good deal to Glinda, who had everything to lose in this discussion. But then, the burden of secrecy, the weight of keeping the affair and the sorrow of its coming to an end just to herself, could be so heavy that talking with one person whom she hardly knew and who might not judge her was tempting.
She started with the obvious, meeting at the coffee shop, filling in the shape of the story bit by bit. Melena was surprised and even enchanted by some details − Thanksgiving in particular gave her much satisfaction. Glinda skipped some of the juicier details that were only Elphaba's to know, of course, but one moment at a time, the story of the affair was told.
"… and she hasn't answered my messages since then."
Melena had been looking at her in silence as the story had gone on. Glinda took a sip of tea. It had gone lukewarm now.
"Not a single message?" Glinda shook her head and Melena snorted. "Sounds like her, alright."
Glinda was sitting upright, uncomfortably waiting to be released from the interrogation.
"You know, you remind me a lot of this girl I knew, and the girl is myself when I met Elphie's dad."
That at least made Glinda smile, though it was a part of the story Elphaba must not have told her.
"Is this a new deal?" She asked. "A story for a story?"
Melena smiled back, though she didn't reply immediately.
"Elphaba told me you're rich." She didn't wait for an answer to go on. "I was too. My parents were very rich. Do you know I never really learned what my dad's job was? Something at an office, I'm assuming banking, I have no idea of the specifics."
"Couldn't you ask him?"
The smile only got wider.
"Ah, but that's the thing, isn't it? We're not in touch. They kicked me out."
That part, Glinda definitely did not know and it must have shown.
"Not like your little living situation with that boy, what was it, Fiyero?" Glinda nodded. "Kicked out for real. Money supplies cut immediately and all. All that for that poor Catholic boy. You can't imagine how much I loved him."
"Was that, I mean, was it…"
"They had a life set out for me. You know what I mean?"
Glinda's lips tightened. Just earlier this evening, she had had evidence of the life her mother wanted for her, even in such basic terms as what sort of wedding she ought to have. Glinda had never before felt quite as beloved and cared for by her parents than since she had moved in with Fiyero and accepted his proposal.
"Very Jewish, very middle class, and very straight."
That made Glinda tick. Of all the things to have left out.
"Very straight? Are you…?"
But Melena only drank more tea, shaking her head.
"No, me, I'm straight as an arrow, but we're not talking about me anymore, dear."
"I'm not Jewish."
"Yeah, well, as I'm saying, you remind me of myself. I didn't say we were identical."
Glinda took time to think. If Melena had ever been rich, she was not surprised that she had been cut off, not because she deserved it but because nothing in her current living situation indicated any present amount of wealth. Elphaba talked about her father as little as she could but whatever details Glinda had gathered seemed to point to a man who impoverished himself as well. A man Melena had still loved…
"So you think… You think I should go with my heart and to hell if my parents cut me off? You think I should choose Elphaba like you chose her father?"
"Oh, sweetie, I'm not telling you what to choose," Melena said. "You've already made your choice."
Please leave a comment if you've read this, I don't mind screaming in the void but I like the void to answer back.
Chapter 24: In which Frexspar visits
Elphaba comes home.
The ride back home was supposedly as long as it had been on her way to Nanny's a week ago but felt infinitely shorter to Elphaba. She felt lighter, more serene. It wasn't because of Boq's presence, though that had helped − she wouldn't admit that. It wasn't even just the soothing presence of Nanny, though that had helped much more. Above all, Elphaba was, if not happy, content with herself. She was not at peace - she did not think she would ever find peace with her own person - but if she still hated the green of her skin, the tall and ugly shape of her body, there was much about herself that left her indifferent. That was a step forward from the hatred that had plagued her before.
She did not hate herself for having loved Glinda. She had never even known she was capable of love, but she now knew the passion for what it had been. It was gone and past, of course, the door slammed in her face by the soon to be married girl herself, but it had happened, it had been fleeting and beguiling, it had been real - on her part, at least. And if the thought of soft hands on her body still haunted her, they didn't for long. She didn't let them, anyway. Before she knew it, she was back home with a care package from Nanny in her bag and a smiling mother welcoming her at the door.
"Hey there," she said, grabbing Elphaba's bag from her hands and giving her the hint of a hug, an arm briefly at her back before letting her in. Before their goodbyes last week, Elphaba couldn't remember the last hug. "Come in, come on in, your sister is arriving later tonight."
Elphaba nodded silently. After the conversation she had had with Melena the other day, she did not quite know where things stood between them, especially with her week long absence at Nanny's. The apartment, she noticed as soon as she walked in, was neat and clean. The living room area that was Melena's room had been tidied up dramatically and her plants had been watered. There was no dishes in the sink and the place smelled of some lavender air freshener. She smiled despite herself, despite everything that had happened to her in the past weeks and months and years. Maybe closing a fresh wound could help scar an older one as well.
"Alright," she said. She thought of who would be driving Nessie home and stopped smiling. "I'll be in my room."
She took her bag back from where Melena had dropped it and was about to unpack when her mother's voice called back behind her.
"Are you…" She stopped and looked at Melena, who was attempting a comforting smile. "I mean, are you doing okay? Did Nanny help?"
She had. Nanny always did.
"Yes," she replied and went to her room.
So she had a supportive mother − of all miracles of God that could have happened. Of all the things Elphaba had not wanted to suffer through, coming out was near topping the list. She had known she was a lesbian for years but had never uttered such a confession around anybody. Not even Boq who was, by all stupid measurements, her closest friend − though they had never been close before their cleansing trip at Nanny's house. She did not want to give people an extra stick to beat her with. Not to add, she thought the mention of it entirely irrelevant, as there was no one in her life to give the label of lesbian a meaning. Not anymore, in any case.
Nanny had not been expecting it, she thought as she sorted through her things that had been so hastily packed, yet Elphaba had been expecting her reaction even less. It wasn't that Nanny was bigoted. She was old and set in her ways and she probably knew less gay people than the fingers on one of her old wrinkled hands, but she was kind when she wanted to be, which was often. She had a natural authority, though, and Elphaba knew that if Nanny had declared her immoral or unwanted, she would have easily crumbled under her dominion. There had been no such rejection. After an astonishingly short time, Nanny had corrected her line of thoughts and accepted both Boq and herself as they were. If everything else in Elphaba's affair had been a miserable failure, at least there was that, Nanny and Melena's support. Then there was Nessarose.
She had not seen her, heard of her this week. She had been at Frexspar's anyways and whenever she was holed up at her father's home, there was no sign of life from her. Elphaba could only suspect what he might be whispering in her pure and chaste ears. When she was here, however, she was fully present and engaging and Elphaba was looking forward to life getting back to where it ought to be. New Year's Eve had been celebrated at Nanny − Melena had gone out with friends, she had said, so as not to intrude on them − and Elphaba was daring to be hopeful for the year to come. It might not contain the bliss she had known the previous months, but it would most likely not contain the heartbreak either.
In the room next over, she heard voices and knew she would be seeing her sister as soon as Frexspar would leave. That turned out to be much longer than she thought. Minutes passed, five, almost ten, and still she could hear Frexspar's soft honeyed voice and his quiet words of devastation through the wall. Her mother was on the contrary getting animated. Elphaba's hands tapped against her knees, closing her eyes and wishing him gone, but a word uttered by Melena particularly vehemently caught her off guard. Hearing her name, she stood to her feet and went to the kitchen to hear what was being said about her.
"It's nothing like that," Frexspar was assuring Melena. "I'm only talking about one discussion, which might turn into more if she's interested, and I think this would do her a lot of… Oh. Elphaba."
She didn't want to look at him. He was sitting at the kitchen table, his hands around a glass of water, but she wouldn't look at his face. She had seen it plenty enough already. Nessarose was sitting next to him, looking subdued. She would not meet Elphaba's eyes. Elphaba could only beg Melena for an explanation.
"What's going on?"
Melena tried a reassuring smile but she was unused to it and Elphaba saw right through her.
"Frex was just leaving, froggie, don't worry."
Frexspar pulled the chair next to him to invite Elphaba to sit, which she did not.
"Come sit," he insisted, but as Elphaba refused to budge, he sighed. "I wanted to see you."
"You're seeing me now," Elphaba replied. "Nessie's here. You can get out."
Melena was insistent.
"Elphie, I think it's really for the best if…"
"Melena, I said I wanted to talk."
His voice had a growl to it that Elphaba did not like to remember. She had thought she would never hear that sound again. She had thought she might live the rest of her life without her father. Melena must have heard it too and sat deeper into her chair, looking down.
"Elphaba," Frexspar said severely, "It has come to my understanding that you have been… entertaining… another young lady and I wanted to…"
"Who told you that?!" Elphaba hissed. "Who the fuck told you that?"
Immediately, she turned to Melena but she saw at once that her mother had had nothing to do with it. Rather, the guilty avoidance of her sister was a better indication. Elphaba was fuming, her heart sunk deep into her chest.
"It doesn't matter who told me what," Frexspar went on. "I wish you would have told me you were struggling with idealizations of a sinful lifestyle and had come to seek help to…"
"Sinful," Elphaba spat out thickly.
She looked at him now, the man she had avoided for years, who had loved her too little and too rarely. She saw him and resented him but above all, she pitied him. He still lived with the belief that he had any grasp on her. If he thought he was going to let her ruin her newly found confidence…
"I'm just trying to help," he said. "I've arranged an appointment with a priest who would love to have a talk with you and if you'd just…"
"I'm not going anywhere!"
Melena stood abruptly, putting herself between Frexspar and Elphaba.
"I told you you're not taking her anywhere anymore," she snapped. "She's not your responsibility anymore. You didn't want her in court, you didn't want her before that, and now that she's with me and she's trying to be happy and to be herself, you wanna drag her back to you? You don't get to do that!"
"But I just want to…"
But Melena wouldn't relent. Elphaba had never seen her so passionate.
"NO BUT!" She cried. "You," she pointed a furious accusing finger, "are going to get the hell out of my house and leave my daughter alone for as long as she lives."
Frexspar was red with anger but he stood and made to leave, but Melena was not done. Turning to Nessarose, her demeanor softened but only a little.
"And you," she said with anger but didn't bring herself to yell at her own child. "Ratting out your own sister, eavesdropping on private conversations… Nessie, this isn't you. This shouldn't be you."
Nessa looked up. For once in her life, her stubborn piety seemed to be tearing at the seams and her eyes were wide with doubt, or maybe even guilty. Glancing between Melena and Elphaba, she looked like she wanted to hide her face from the surface of the earth. Melena sighed.
"You'll always be welcome here, of course," she said and Elphaba's heart throbbed with relief even despite the betrayal. "After you've apologized to your sister."
Nessarose opened her mouth but before any word could come out, apology or otherwise, Frexspar pulled her to him and she lost whatever courage she might have been gathering up.
"We're leaving, dear," he said.
The door closed behind them − so much for Melena's turn to have Nessa for a week. Elphaba realized her hands were shaking when Melena grabbed them, held them between hers with a comforting shhh. She was pulled into a hug which was much longer, much tighter and much more needed than the one she had received earlier. Than any she had ever received.
"He's gone," she said, rubbing Elphaba's back. "He's never coming back here. You're never gonna see him again."
Elphaba nodded in her mother's neck and let the hug go for much longer than she ever had.
"You're exactly the way you're supposed to be," her mom whispered. "He's full of shit."
When she pulled back, Melena put a hand to her cheek, checking in, smiling. Elphaba wasn't used to being treated like a daughter. She was realizing that she did not hate the feeling.
"You look like shit, kid," Melena said and Elphaba snorted. "Go to bed, alright?"
Elphaba felt exhausted. Despite the anger and frustration, a part of her that had been deep hidden but had now surfaced was feeling very warm and satisfied. She wanted nothing more than to put herself to bed and have a good night's sleep.
"Oh, wait, before I forget," Melena called her back just before she reached her room. Grabbing an envelope from a drawer, she shoved it into Elphaba's hands. "Some bedtime reading, I guess."
"This arrived while you were gone. You got mail."
I'm so sorry it took so long! I've been a bit under the weather this month. Please let me know if you enjoyed this chapter! It's very self-indulging on my part.
Chapter 25: In which Boq puts his foot down
Boq wants things settled once and for all.
Boq had desperately knocked on Nanny's door with his tail between his legs and was, if not completely fixed up by the experience, at least well rested and more serene. He didn't know what had come upon him − Nanny and him had been as well acquainted as one might be with a friend's grandmother, which is not very much − but Nanny had been an embrace of understanding and a breath of fresh air, of support and comfort. He had spent only a few days there squished into his heavy timetable, with Elphaba still remaining after his departure, but he'd had work to attend. He was better now than he had been, which was as good as he could realistically expect to be, he supposed.
What had done him a great deal of good was being away from Fiyero. Caught up in their little affair, fading away as it had been, it had been all too easy to give precedence to his urges to see him again, to keep their dalliance active as long as he could just for the sake of it. It had been clearer after his conversation with Elphaba and was now crystal clear that the secrecy of it was weighing much more heavily on his conscience than he had initially planned. It was already daunting enough to know that he had hurt Glinda − though to what extent, he could only guess, considering her own little affair on the side − but it would have been much harder if he had kept it going. He would consider himself lucky if he never saw Fiyero again.
That was, of course, without counting on the other party to barge into his plan for happiness and more specifically into his coffee shop.
"Green tea for everyone," one of Glinda's friends announced him as a group of half a dozen people walked into the coffee shop and gathered tables to be sat together. "We're on a cleanse before the party this weekend."
The specific 'we' was Glinda and what looked to be her parents, and several friends who all looked richer than the next − the one who had taken the order gave him a particular smile Boq failed to reciprocate in his surprise − and Fiyero. By all means he looked like a fish out of water and Boq's heart sank when a radiant smile was thrown his way. Had they not been clear towards one another? Could Fiyero really believe that he could charm his way back into Boq's good graces after asking the woman at his side to marry him? Evidently he could and Boq hated that he wasn't too sure if the attempt was inefficient or not.
Green tea was brought, although it wasn't a table service, but the shop was in the lulled idleness of the afternoon and Boq had the feeling that Glinda's family and friends must not be that used to corner coffee shops anyways. They must have been used to being waited on. Glinda paid him no mind and didn't even give him a glance when he put down the steaming cup in front of her. That was as much as Boq ever wanted to interact with her and he suited himself back behind the counter.
Of all things to gather them here in front of him, wedding preparations were the reason of such reunion. Without meaning to, and in fact trying with every ounce of his body to not listen to a thing they were saying, Boq came to understand that an engagement party was to happen that very weekend and that it was the object of extra preparations that were to be finished tonight. Fiyero, he soon realized, was the least interested person by far at that table. Incessantly, he tried to grab other people's attention, to make jokes that near always fell flat, to distract them with pleasantries and conversations that, for once, were utterly out of place. When he failed to captivate anybody to his aside, he fell quiet and looked the most miserable person in the shop.
In trying to reject Fiyero from his attention, Boq's gaze came to rest on Glinda and remained there, for she was not looking at him any more than earlier. She was smiling politely but it was plain that, despite being the bride to be, she was not the chief intervenant in the discussion. The preparations were mostly divided between her mother and her friends, with as much input on Glinda's part as they allowed her to have, which wasn't much at all. Though her eyes were on the papers laid out on the table, on her companions, they were elsewhere.
Boq had not had the occasion to discuss the specifics of Elphaba's affair with Glinda. He hardly knew how it had come to be, much less how it had kept on, only that it seemed to have come to an end much more abruptly, though just as painfully as his own secret meetings with the future groom. He had asked, of course, as had Nanny but Elphaba had always been quite the closed book and they had pried no more from her than her initial admission. The rest of his last day at Nanny's had been spent healing and licking those wounds so awkwardly opened.
He would not ask Glinda on the matter, of course. He would not dare speak to her at all if he could help it. Still, in his heart remained the question of how much exactly she loved Fiyero, how much the betrayal on both parts could possibly mean. To start a life together when both of them were hiding such a substantial stain on their conscience…
They remained at the table just long enough to finish the preparations and not one minute extra. As soon as everything was settled, Glinda's parents kissed her goodbye and left. Her friends did not linger either, a brief hug from each of them. Glinda herself was about to leave, taking Fiyero's arm, when Fiyero's eyes crossed Boq's and would not let go. Boq hated himself for failing to look away, for still craving those dark eyes on him even after all the heartbreak. He watched with horror as Fiyero whispered something gentle to Glinda and she gave him a kiss on the cheek and left.
"What did you tell her?" Boq asked rather more sharply than he ought to talk to customers as soon as Fiyero sat at the counter.
Fiyero only smiled, gesturing that he wanted to order.
"I'll take that chocolate cake and a hot cocoa," he said. "Shenshen is not the boss of me, I'll get what I want." Under Boq's serious gaze, he frowned, "I just told her I wanted to catch up with you. Which is the truth. We haven't worked out in ages."
Boq could only scoff as he all but slammed a plate and a mug in front of Fiyero.
"Worked out? That's what you call it?"
Fiyero, misreading the vibe, gave him a wicked smirk and took an oversized spoonful of cake before sighing heavily.
"Oh my god, this is so good," he groaned. "I hate wedding preparations."
Boq had nothing to say to that. He had nothing to say to Fiyero at all. Grabbing a towel, he set himself to cleaning the counter, trying so ardently to ignore the handsome presence on the other side of it.
"You've never done it, have you?" Boq had seen near all of his numerous siblings married and had helped out for at least a few of them but, as saying so would have been participating in a conversation he did not wish himself a part of, remained silent. "I never imagined it'd be so much work, and so boring too… At least it'll make Glinda happy."
Boq did not know that this was necessarily the case. He did know that such an observation was entirely outside of his preoccupation nowadays.
"You're being quiet," Fiyero noted, gulping down a sip of hot cocoa that left a mark on his upper lip, a white line of whipped cream that was licked clean. Boq looked away again. "Tired, eh? Oh wait, I almost forgot, I wanted to give you this."
He produced an envelope which he slid towards Boq. Boq eyed it suspiciously.
"Pfannee sent the invitations a while ago but I managed to get one for you."
Too torn by a morbid curiosity, Boq grabbed the small envelope and ripped it open. The pink could only have been Glinda's touch. He read the words over and over. Fiyero had always put a heavy filter to his ability to think properly and tonight was no exception. He could not for the life of him figure out if this was all a joke, if he was the victim of a cruel prank. Sitting idly on his stool, Fiyero was humming and savoring his cake.
"What's this?" Boq asked stupidly.
"An invitation to the party this weekend," Fiyero replied with so much ease, so much simplicity like he was announcing the color of the sky, the day of the week. "My family's only coming to the wedding, but I could invite a few friends to the engagement party."
Boq tried to take a few breaths, to remember all the advice Nanny had given him but it seemed to have fled his mind.
"Why the fuck," he hissed in a whisper so that the customers could not hear a word of his, "would I want to go to your engagement party?"
Fiyero looked as though the sky had fallen down on him and left him as clueless as a newborn. He blinked a couple times, his mouth turning into some sort of grimace.
"What do you m…"
"What do you expect?" Boq went on. "Do you want me to look at Glinda in the eyes and say congratulations? Do you just want to keep me around? Do you want me to suck you off in the bathroom of your own engagement party?"
Fiyero hinted a suggestive smile that was promptly shut down by Boq's glare.
"Look, I just…"
"You can't have your cake and eat it too!" Boq snapped.
Fiyero briefly looked down at his empty plate and sighed.
"Okay, baby, I just meant…"
"What did you call me?!" For the first time, Fiyero was subdued. "You've never called me that. What the fuck did you call me?!"
His voice was cracking and he felt a couple of glances his way by other customers. Fiyero seemed to sense them as well and smiled towards the indiscreet onlookers before turning back to Boq. His hand was halfway across the counter, reaching for Boq's who took a step backwards.
"I meant buddy," Fiyero said, in vain. "Look, bud, I'm sorry, I didn't know you'd… that you'd…"
Boq grabbed the empty plate, pushed the mug into Fiyero's hand to incite him to drink it up.
"I don't have the right to tell you to go," he said quietly. "I'm not allowed to be rude to customers."
Fiyero nodded and took a sip of his drink, his eyes fixed on Boq. He was frowning, as if he ever had the right to be mad.
"It's over, Fiyero," Boq muttered and the reality of his words weighed heavier in his heart than before he had said them. "It's been over for a while. You've made your choice and you can't have it both ways."
Fiyero put down the empty mug and sat there forlorn.
"I only wanted to… I wanted…"
"Please. It makes me… It makes me feel sad to see you. Please be kind and…"
He nodded towards the door. Fiyero took a big breath and, with one last glance down at Boq, turned around and left.
Chapter 26: In which there's a party
Glinda and Fiyero's engagement party is crashed by a surprise guest.
Some foolish idiot had left Fiyero in charge of the music and everybody was dancing their asses off in this upper-grade party venue between over expensive canapés and cocktails. Glinda ought to have been ashamed of the vibe that did not match any of the decoration, the occasion or the mood, but she could not find it in her to change it. He was the groom to be and after all, having people dance meant that less of them were trying to talk to her. She was trying to keep her calm as around her, people were celebrating her engagement.
"You look lovely as ever," her dad said, kissing both her cheeks.
"What's to think of the flowers?" her mom said, readjusting the straps of her short pink dress. "I swear that florist ripped us off and the arrangements are hardly…"
"My flowers are nice," Glinda replied half-heartedly.
She let herself be maneuvered and retouched by her mom, let herself be molded into whatever the plan desired from her. Fiyero's arm was around her waist, had been for the full length of the party, which seemed to be everlasting in Glinda's eyes but had only started twenty minutes ago according to the watch at his wrist.
"You're looking gorgeous," he whispered against her ear, pressing a kiss on her cheek.
"You're not too bad yourself," she said.
Though she was mostly being polite, meek and kind, it was also the truth. Burgundy suit, Fiyero had tied his cloud of fuzzy hair into a bun that seemed to explode behind his head like a black conversation bubble from a comic book. He looked cute, in as much as he ever did. Glinda was bored.
Of course, an engagement party only happened once in a lifetime, or at least was supposed to − some of her aunts could be pointed to in evidence to the contrary. Everyone her parents knew was invited, everyone she knew. That was obviously aside from a specific someone.
"Hey," Milla said, having just arrived. "Hey, how are you?"
Glinda put on her best smile, leaning against Fiyero.
"Couldn't be happier," she replied. "Thank you so much for coming."
There was concern hidden behind Milla's smile but, after a glance at Fiyero, she seemed to decide against expressing it. Her hand lingered at Glinda's arm and she was gone to join Pfannee and Shenshen. They had been talking together since they arrived and for once, Glinda longed to join them, to socialize a little beyond the sea of older people she hardly cared for.
"Did you wanna dance?"
Glinda had not had any such intention but Fiyero had always been a perfectly decent dancer, so she took his arm and let herself be led amidst of the crowd. It was a good idea, she soon realized, to be busy. Less people to be bothering her and the exercise gave her an excuse to let her mind wander to her own wonderings. There was much to be thought.
Her mind would not stray from Elphaba. It hadn't since the first glance at the green girl and she wasn't sure it ever would. She sometimes woke at night from dreams of green skin under her fingers, a mouth moaning at her neck, strong arms around her and a sleepy Fiyero asked her what was wrong. Nothing was wrong, except everything was. Fiyero had done nothing wrong. Her parents had done nothing to deserve a daughter like her, whose desires were outside any possible expectations of the family name. And how much, how ardently and often she desired…
A burst of laughter erupted from the other side of the room and it took Glinda no time at all to locate its origin. Her heart dropped low in her chest. It was Elphaba. It couldn't be anyone else. No matter how harshly, how disappointingly Glinda pushed her away, Elphaba trapped herself back into Glinda's life.
She was out of place. Nothing about her fit here. Her green clashed with the pale pink decoration of the room, black jeans and military green varsity jacket with the cute dresses and tuxedos. Her frown, which soon turned to Glinda in consternation, was probably the worst of it. Around her, people stopped dancing to stare at the intrusion. Glinda didn't know where to put herself.
"You didn't tell me you invited her," Fiyero whispered in her ear.
"I didn't," she replied and thought to herself that her voice sounded even more empty than before. "I wasn't in charge of the invitations, it was…"
She sharply turned to Pfannee, who was standing with Shenshen just a few steps away. The gleam in her eyes…
"Oh, dear god!" Someone exclaimed.
Elphaba had started to dance, if dance could even describe the graceless, ridiculous waving and swirling of bony arms she was displaying. The whispers around her had turned to open mockery and Glinda's stomach was sick with shame. Elphaba met her gaze and the glare she gave Glinda cut deeper than a blade.
"I'll say this much for her," Fiyero muttered in awe. "She doesn't give a fuck what anyone else thinks."
"Of course she does!" Glinda retorted. "She just pretends not to."
She clutched herself, trying to reassure herself that she wasn't at fault here. It could only be Pfannee, couldn't it? She had sneaked an invitation to Elphaba and for what? For her humiliation or for Glinda's? She suddenly remembered the conversation she had had with Milla, warning her that Shenshen and Pfannee would not take too easily to her affair with Elphaba. She had thought she had been discreet enough. If Milla had been able to see through her, then Pfannee…
"Oh, I feel awful…"
"Why? It's not like it's your fault."
She disengaged herself from his arms.
She was acutely aware of the stares that followed her as she took the few steps towards Elphaba and tapped on her shoulder. The wild thing jerked around and looked at Glinda as if she wanted her gone forever, as if she wanted to embrace her and never let her go. Glinda swallowed thickly. Wordlessly, she offered an arm to Elphaba. She did not have to dance alone. She did not have to ridicule herself on her own. Elphaba looked like she had never seen another human arm but accepted it nonetheless. They held onto each other and danced.
Glinda felt a hand at her shoulder, the disgusted hiss of Pfannee and Shenshen begging her to stop this instant, but she shrugged it off and looked into Elphaba's eyes. Their dance was slow, languid, not at all in the tempo with whatever fast paced heavy bass Fiyero had decided to put on the playlist. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered beyond Elphaba. She was clumsy, but Glinda was graceful enough for the both of them. She had never much enjoyed dancing but now she found that she would dance till the end of the night in those arms if she could. Around them, she thought she saw other couples start dancing again. She couldn't look at them. Her eyes were boring into black ones and she never wanted to take even one glance away. Her fingers clasped tighter around Elphaba's arms. How she had longed to touch her again. How she longed to touch her even more and more intimately.
Her heart was pounding so loud that she hardly heard the music anymore when she leaned up and kissed Elphaba on the mouth. She wasn't even sure there was any sound. The moment was outside of time and space. There was nothing she thought of beyond the feel of chapped green lips under hers, black hair under her fingers at the nape of Elphaba's neck and hands clutching her waist tightly, helplessly. For how hesitant she had been on their first kiss and the times that had followed, there was no hesitation in Elphaba now. As soon as she felt Glinda's lips on hers, she responded with all the desperation of a woman who feared she'd been abandoned. But she hadn't, she wouldn't be. Glinda had found her again and this time, she would not let her go.
The kiss broke and Glinda saw green eyelids open to black eyes staring down at her in awe and, heartbreakingly, in terror. Elphaba's hands would have left her if Glinda had not caught her arms and held onto them. Wrapping them tight around her waist, she kept them there as she turned around in the embrace to face the crowd.
Every person she knew was looking at her in shock and horror. Glinda had never felt so afraid in her life and she was certain Elphaba could feel her pulse racing, but she felt brave and she knew there was no way out of this but being headstrong. The wall of lies and unsaid truths she had built was to be brought down and that could only be done by herself. It was a whole skein of secrets and she was not sure by which interloped end to pick it. Elphaba's arms were shaking around her. She closed her eyes briefly and opened them again, resigned.
"I'm sorry," she said and there were hundreds of reasons for that, way too numerous to list them off. "I'm sorry, the… the engagement is off."
A hundred voices started to talk at the same time among each other and Glinda cleared her throat to silence them. Suddenly in front of her was Fiyero, his big black eyes that were wide with sorrow and disappointment. She was afraid to look away, much as it pained her.
"I-I love someone else. I have for a long time. I want to be with her."
There were gasps and cries of indignation. Her parents especially looked outraged but Glinda could not pretend one second more to be the perfect daughter they had expected, the one who would marry well and comply to everything they had wanted. What she wanted was all she had in mind and all she presently intended to care for.
"Glinda, stop this charade right now," her mother threatened but Glinda would not be cowed.
"It's not a charade," she said, tightening Elphaba's arms around herself. "It's real and I thought I could put it behind me but I can't and I don't want to, and I want to be with Elphaba." She turned, looked up to Elphaba's face, searching for the confirmation she so intensely desired to see in her eyes. "If she'll forgive me and accept to be with me…"
But there was no need to worry herself with that. As soon as she had said the words, she saw in Elphaba everything she was longing for. Her heart was set then and she turned back to the assembly. Fiyero helplessly reached out a hand towards her but let it drop before it could touch her. Glinda eyed everyone around her, the looks of shock, judgment, maybe even disgust. She was suddenly filled with a deeper compassion for the very same Elphaba who had endured such treatment from the youngest age. Grabbing her by the hand, she made her farewells.
"The party's over. I'm… I'm leaving. I'm sorry."
Dragging Elphaba behind her, she left the venue and the life she never truly wanted.
Hey! Please, PLEASE leave me a comment to tell me if you liked this and what you liked!
Chapter 27: In which Elphaba lets Glinda in
Elphaba and Glinda run out of the crashed party.
Note that this chapter features explicit sexual content.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Elphaba was sailing on a dream. Not just the kind of daydream that got you through a tedious Friday night lecture, no. The kind of dream that woke up you frowning and left you pondering all breakfast on whatever its subconscious meaning. She couldn't parse any of it. It was also, primarily, the best and most desired daydream of her life and if it was false, then it was the most hyper realistic fantasy her mind could have ever come up with.
"What have you done?" She kept asking Glinda between kisses and caresses. "What just happened?"
"Something that should have happened a long time ago," Glinda replied.
They were walking, though Elphaba didn't know where to. Glinda, who was leading the parade, couldn't keep her hands off her, clutching her arm, stroking her cheeks, her hair, kissing her shoulder, her cheeks, her mouth. All that for the rest of the world to see, unashamed. Everything told Elphaba this must be fake, this must be the imagination of her own mind, but Glinda kept bringing her back in the reality of the moment. The faces around them at the party, the expressions they all had when Glinda had announced…
"Where are we going?" She asked. "What are we gonna do?"
Glinda's smile was cheeky.
"We're going to your place," she said. "And you know what we're gonna do."
The venue of the party had been a bit out of town and they had to ride a train back to Elphaba's home. Elphaba had never for one second thought she would be the girl who made out in public and yet, when Glinda's lips were on hers and her hands in her hair, at her neck, she couldn't be anyone else. There was no reflection, no arguing. Whatever Glinda did was her own desire as well.
"I'm not done with you," Glinda was saying and though she hardly made any sense, Elphaba couldn't retort a single word. "I'm never gonna be done with you and we're gonna be together always and I want you."
They made out against Elphaba's door out on the street and on the inside after a long and laborious step to the entrance hall, and they made out as they walked up the narrow stairs, past the second floor that smelled just as nasty as ever but Elphaba would ignore it for today. Not the honeymoon Glinda deserved, but the one she got. They made out in the landing and against the door to the apartment and they were about to go quite a bit further than making out when the last voice Elphaba wanted to hear − which was any voice at all in this instant − gasped.
Glinda immediately dropped her grasp on Elphaba's collar, three steps of distance, flushed cheeks as she looked behind Elphaba to a shocked Melena Thropp picking up her jaw from the floor. Elphaba wanted to squint her eyes shut and make a wish, and then surely the sight would disappear forever.
"I… I see you two have made up…"
Glinda's voice was unsure when she replied.
"I, er, I broke off the engagement. Elphaba and I… erm… I mean, we're now…"
Melena stood up and grabbed her purse from the floor. Stretching herself, she sighed and walked up to Elphaba. She didn't like meeting her eyes but Melena's hand cupped her cheek and made her. Elphaba never much felt like a child, Melena's or otherwise, but in that moment of being treated like one, she did.
"I'm gonna go spend the night somewhere," her mom said. "You don't have to worry about me. And when I'm back tomorrow, we can never talk about this again. That sounds alright?"
Elphaba gave a curt nod and Melena was out the door with her coat. Glinda had the sense to lock the door behind her and when she turned around, her smile was wicked.
"So… We were in the middle of something, weren't we?"
Elphaba could feel herself frowning, still in the frustration of their interruption, but Glinda only had to hook her arms around her neck and pull her down for a peck on the lips, a nothing of a kiss, for the fire to ignite again. She was steered backwards and they were about to land on the couch when Glinda put a finger to Elphaba's lips.
"Your bedroom?" She asked. "I want you in a bed."
It was just a few steps to the door and Elphaba was given a thousand kisses by the time they reached it.
"I want you," Glinda said again against Elphaba's lips, dropping a garland of kisses down her jaw, her neck. Her hands slid underneath her jacket, touching the muscles of her stomach like her hands belonged on green skin. Elphaba shivered. "I like you and I want you."
Elphaba was pressed into the bed, jacket disposed of and Glinda's hands were everywhere. They tugged at the sweater Elphaba was wearing, pushing it up and uncovering skin she couldn't stop touching, kissing, cherishing. The damn garment wasn't even past Elphaba's head, undershirt gone with it, when Glinda's mouth launched an attack on her breasts and Elphaba muffled her groans into scratchy wool.
"You're beautiful," Glinda was saying. "You're handsome. You're perfect."
Elphaba struggled to pull the clothes all the way off and Glinda's breath shook with a chuckle around her nipple.
"Can I take these off as well?" She asked, her thumbs hooking under Elphaba's waistband.
Elphaba loathed her body, the long poles of her green legs, and if she had her say she would never be seen at all, but she loved Glinda and she nodded, pushing up her hips to let her pull the boxers and jeans all the way off. Glinda was famished, pressing herself into Elphaba to cover her with kisses, a clumsy show of undressing herself as well − and how much better a show that was. Glinda was a beauty, as soft and round and perky as Elphaba was bony, lengthy and dry but when green skin mingled with pink and her hands were combing into blonde curls, nothing mattered but their heartbeats matching.
Glinda's fingers were between her legs, already touching her, already matching the beat of her heart. She was wet, perhaps embarrassingly so eager she was, fired up by the dragged on build-up to this moment. Glinda moaned against her breasts, her mouth on a path downwards. She kissed Elphaba's stomach, the curls between her legs, the inside of her thighs and Elphaba's breath was ragged by the time she reached her clit, circling around it agonizingly slow, like they had all the time in the world to make up for the mistakes of the past few months.
"My hair," Glinda said and her voice was burning against Elphaba. "You can hold my hair, love."
It was the purchase Elphaba needed to keep sane. Her hands grabbed soft blonde curls, though she didn't dare hold too tight. She couldn't believe that any of today had possibly happened. Her mind was still on the kiss back at the party, but what a different kind of kiss Glinda was giving her now. Her hair had been stiff, sprayed to perfection into the pretty little future bride her parents had wanted, but it mellowed at Elphaba's touch and was as soft and tender as Glinda herself had become. The hair loosened, the lipstick smudged by their kisses, the fancy little dress thrown on the floor, there was only Glinda left on top of her, no artificials added.
Elphaba had never believed that there could be such a thing as love, at least applied to herself. She had not thought she could ever engross herself with another person, suffer the vulnerability of it, put herself needlessly under attack. That had been a misguided attempt at understanding a feeling she had never known before Glinda. She knew now how mistaken she had been. There was no attack, nothing to protect herself from. Glinda wasn't leaving her vulnerable ; she made her brave, strong, and love was filling her from all parts. She was letting Glinda love her and how beautifully she did it, how gently she showed her.
"Glinda," she said and even though her voice came out moaning and a bit silly, she felt perfectly content, "Glinda, can you hold my hand?"
Glinda held her hand and their eyes met. She smiled, which Elphaba felt more than she saw, only the happy squint of her eyes and a renewed desire to please. And pleased, Elphaba was. Glinda's tongue toying with her, caressing her, even inside her, and she could only sigh and let herself pitch to the flow set by Glinda. She did not dare look away from the ocean of these blue eyes. It was a bubble entirely outside of the concerns of the world they had created here, made of loving and being loved and Elphaba could not say how long they inhabited it.
Her pleasure came a first time, the opening comma of the new chapter of their story. Glinda looked into her eyes and squeezed her fingers as she gave the finishing blow, Elphaba's back arching off the bed, her toes digging into it. And then Glinda kept going and Elphaba came a much slower, more languid second time. A third time was offered and, though the coy smile that accompanied the suggestion was more than tempting, she found herself more interested in Glinda's embrace that she had craved way too long now.
"You're in a lot of trouble later," Glinda grunted into Elphaba's hair as they lay intimately wrapped into each other, a knitting of limbs tightly together.
"I'll hold you up to that," Elphaba retorted and kissed Glinda's neck. She was wearing perfume earlier but the sex had messed with it and it smelled much more like Glinda now. She breathed it in, drowned in it. Her smile came without her bidding.
If there was a way to how these things were done, she did not know it. She could only guess, step by step find her footing. She could only know trust that Glinda would be there to hold her hand through it.
Please leave a comment! please! Let me know if you liked this resolution, what you wished I'd done different, if you wanna see more stuff from this universe. I still have 3 chapters left in the fic.
Chapter 28: In which Glinda gets her stuff back
Glinda and Elphaba settle into their new blossoming relationship and decide what's to be done.
Glinda's phone buzzed and she was never so relieved that she had changed her background recently. The matching picture she had been using of her and Fiyero might have ruined the mood. But that picture had been too much to look at for a while already and she had changed it to some mindless cute cupcake imagery a few weeks earlier. Close call. With a reassuring smile at Elphaba, she reached over to have a look. She scrolled through an unbelievably long list of missed calls and texts.
"Mmf," Elphaba grunted and Glinda took her hand to her lips, kisses on each knuckle.
"I won't take any call," Glinda said softly, "but I will change my voicemail, alright?"
Elphaba looked reluctant, dubious, but she nodded slowly. Glinda could only stare at her, her heart bursting with fondness. Any distance between them was closed and Glinda made sure to be wrapped around Elphaba like a baby koala bear before pulling the voicemail menu. She put on the most proper voice she could, given the circumstances.
"You've reached Glinda Upland. Please hold on, I'm busy with my new girlfriend Elphaba Thropp. It's gonna be a while. Bye!"
A few seconds passed. Elphie snorted.
"Is that it, then?" She asked.
If Glinda hadn't been so intimately caught in her embrace, she might have been worried about Elphaba's doubtful voice. As their legs were tangled and Elphaba's face was pressed into her chest, however, she did not jump to conclusions. There was plenty of evidence against Elphaba running from her again.
"What do you mean?"
"You said girlfriend."
That was a talk Glinda had not had in a long time. The girlfriend talk. Back in the days, she had declared herself Fiyero's girlfriend after their first date and that had been the nature of it until it hadn't. Fiyero was something else. He was a status, a token of her good worth. Elphaba was someone she loved, cherished, wanted. They couldn't be more different. How strange it was to refer to herself with the same word in relation to either.
"I said that."
Elphaba was smiling into her chest, Glinda could sense. She combed fingers through black hair, a kiss at the crown of her head.
"You'll be alright with that?" She asked. "Do you want us to be girlfriends?"
Elphaba nodded lazily, lulled by the caress.
"I wanna stay here," she mumbled. "That's what I want."
Though Glinda could only be satisfied with Elphaba's tender words, she was also desiring for them to be upfront and entirely true to one another for once in their lives.
"Elphie, I… I don't know if I can say it yet but…" That perked Elphaba's attention, who looked up at her. How shiny her black eyes were. They contained the depth of the night, all the secrets in the world. Glinda smiled, stroking a green cheek with a finger which then twirled into straight dark hair. "I… like you a lot. I don't just… I mean, I love being here with you and I do mean here, but that's not all that I love, you know? Do you understand?"
She might as well have been speaking a completely foreign language, for the look Elphaba gave her in return. Her smile wanted itself reassuring, confident, loving. It was all she could do. At the party, she had uttered her confession in a rush. How strange was it that it had been easier to admit then, in front of a hundred judging pairs of eyes, than here with the object of her love?
"I don't just think you're hot," she joked and Elphaba's eyes gave the prettiest fluttering. "Although that too. But it's not just about, I mean, about sex. It's more. A lot more, in fact."
Lying above her now, Elphaba's arms folded over Glinda's chest as she rested her chin on them to have a good look at Glinda, looking all so comfortable. There was peace in this moment like never before. Glinda wasn't feeling guilty at all. She didn't remember the last time she had felt so rid of all guilt.
"Me too," Elphaba said and though neither of them had said the true words, both of them had. "I've never… I mean, you know I haven't and… This is very special to me."
Glinda leaned down to press a kiss against Elphaba's lips.
"I know, darling. I know."
They talked and they kissed and they made love again and long after the time came, they fell asleep. The next morning, Glinda woke to green arms clutching her and lazy morning kisses and thought she might die with the joy they brought her. Breakfast was made, a long and tempting Elphaba wearing only a tanktop and a pair of boxers and Glinda didn't just have a taste for the banana-raspberry pancakes on her plate. They kissed and did more than kissing and finally, unfortunately, it was time for Glinda to make plans about any future besides the one her parents had hoped for her.
Of course, there was no intention of immediately getting engaged to Elphaba, of jumping into this relationship as foolhardy as she so wanted to and risking rushing everything. They didn't even know how accommodations might work. Elphaba offered to let her stay here for a while, claiming they could well share the bed. There was no saying when Nessarose would be back. It wasn't perfect, but it was a bed and a place to stay, and it was with Elphaba so it was completely and wholly perfect.
"I know I might have to say goodbye to my walk in closet and everything over at his place," Glinda said, her foot toying with Elphaba's inner thigh under the table, "But I do have to get back all my stuff that's at Fiyero's…"
Elphaba had unsurprisingly no desire at all to be confronted with Fiyero at his apartment. Though Glinda would have appreciated help, she did not ask for it. She did not think that Elphaba particularly hated him − she had shown no sign of that − but she had no reason to like him and so Glinda had to take the hard path and go knocking at her ex fiancé's house the day after dumping him publicly at their own engagement party.
Fiyero looked as surprised to see her as if she had been dressed as a clown. He didn't seem to find a smile for her now, which made her heart sore but she supposed that was entirely fair. Confused and upset as he looked, he had never been petty and he let her in with no fuss at all when she explained the reason of her coming.
"Sure, I'll help you," he said and that made her smile in the midst of all this awkward mess.
Piles and piles of clothes were dropped onto the couch then carelessly shoved into bags for transportation and Glinda soon realized she might need to come back several times to pick them all up with only her small car. The foolish question came to mind of whether her parents would actually give her that new car they had promised for her birthday. Somehow, she had her doubts now.
She pretended not to notice the several empty ice cream containers beside the couch, the tired look behind Fiyero's eyes. There was a lot of things to pack and they agreed to try and be done with it as soon as possible. It was a whole afternoon worth of work − she texted Elphaba to let her know an approximate time of return. Finally, when all was put away with various levels of care into bags and boxes, they took a break and crashed on the narrow spaces of the living room left unoccupied. Fiyero gave her some vanilla soda and a plate of fruit. Cherry. She had always loved cherries.
"I'm sorry," was all she could say, though it came too late even within this day.
He shrugged, gulping down his own can. There had been quite an imbalance of toil between the two of them in the packing and there was a bit of sweat soaking his back. Glinda was probably also sorry for that.
"You know, your parents were here all night yesterday. They didn't like your new voicemail all that much."
Glinda was not subdued, but she supposed that she could not have expected a different reaction from her parents either. Fiyero snorted.
"I thought it was funny."
"I really am sorry, I know I should have told you earlier and broken up instead of… I mean, there should have been another way and I just… I just couldn't… I'm sorry."
"No," he said and put down the empty can on the floor near the ice cream. "Glinda, I am sorry."
She shook her head.
"It's not your fault I'm a… I'm a lesbian."
She had not said the word before or even thought to name herself as such but as soon as it was out, she knew it fit like a glove. Immediately it made sense to her and she knew it was her truth. That was a conversation she was rather looking forward to having with Elphaba. Fiyero's face however was more impenetrable than it had ever been even after that confession and he rubbed his forehead.
"This is… You're gonna hate me, I guess…"
"I have no reason to hate you! Fiyero, I'm just sorry I…"
"I cheated on you too," he cut her and silenced her for good.
Her mouth opened but she was blown by the sudden news and found nothing to say.
"I did it too," he repeated. "Glinda, I'm sorry."
Of course, it wasn't supposed to matter. Not after the night she had spent with Elphaba and all the nights before that craving to feel this freedom, this unbound and unlimited love. She saw now how her love for Fiyero had been a facade she had built herself, made easy by how friendly and likable he had always been. It was easy to believe yourself in love with Fiyero when he treated you so well, made you feel interesting and beautiful and lovable. To find out that his own side of the relationship had been a lie as well made her feel like the last three years had not just been in vain, but an offense on her person.
"Was… Was it because I wouldn't, you know…?"
His eyes squinted before widening with understanding and he immediately shook his head vigorously.
"No! No, Glinda, it had nothing to do with that. I mean, now I get why you didn't want sex with me. No, it just… It happened."
She nodded, unsure what to add to that. She wondered how far this lie would have gone if she hadn't had one of her own.
"Do you love her?"
Glinda saw then a sight rarely seen: Fiyero looked scared. He had ever been the fearless and careless one, her handsome lion, her prince in shining armor, but in this instant he looked as terrified as she had ever seen him.
"It's a him," he said in a very low voice. "It's Boq."
Glinda did not think she would have been more surprised if Fiyero had told her he was bedding the Queen of England. Much as she tried to hide her shock, she knew by Fiyero's face that her attempt had failed.
"Boq?" Her voice was funny, not really her own. She cleared her throat. "Boq?! You cheated on me with Boq?"
"You cheated on me with Elphaba," he pointed out and shoved her right off her high horse.
She wanted to retort something smart but it was useless. She did not have the leisure of the higher moral position.
"Because I fell in love with her," she said rather more sharply than she was entitled to. She realized the fact, as well as her own assuming of Fiyero's situation. How was it that they could have called themselves a couple and known so little about each other? "Are you and Boq... I mean... Was it just, you know..."
"It wasn't just sex," he said and she didn't know if he said that as a justification for the cheating or as a further confession of it. "It wasn't just that."
She thought she ought to laugh at the ridicule of it all. Now that her eyes had been opened, she had no idea how she had ever thought that her happiness could lie with him, fond as she was of him. Or his with her.
"Just look at us," she joked, "Engaged yesterday, ready to run the next GSA meeting the next day. I should congratulate Boq if ever I see him again. He'll make you happier than I ever could, I'm sure."
But Fiyero did not have the dreamy gaze of one in a freshly admitted romantic relationship. His gaze was stern and resolutely fixed on the floor. She wanted to hold his hand and comfort him but somehow, she couldn't. She shouldn't.
"I thought that everything would just be easier if we got married," he finally sighed. "I thought it'd make you happy and if I had a more stable life, then maybe it'd be easier to fit him into it..." His head fell back on the couch and he stared up at the ceiling. "I messed it all up. He's never gonna talk to me again."
For all giddy she was feeling now after the memory of an excellent night and an even better morning, Glinda still knew that sensation so well from memory. Telling Elphaba about the engagement had been a walk right into hell itself and she had thought she had lost her forever. But then, she hadn't.
"Well, not if you give him up so easily," she said. "Have you tried to apologize?"
Fiyero looked at her with evidence.
"Not since the party yesterday, no," he said and though he had never been the type to point out other people's misdeeds when unnecessary, his voice underlined all too clearly that she had, after all, been the cause of his suffering since the party and ought to know better than to ask. She was subdued. Still, if she was to be the one to upset him and his plans, all infidelity aside, she might as well be the one to nudge him towards happiness. It did not matter, really, what the past had made them go through, so long as the future was still in their hands.
"Something to consider," she offered. "Though it's hardly my place to tell you what to do..."
"It's not," he replied, but he was smiling. "Though I'll take it."
"If he's worth holding onto," she said and by the look of Fiyero's face, she knew that he was. That was strange and never something she had thought about Boq. She would have to ask Elphaba more about this boy. "Then hold onto him."
He nodded. The conversation was over. The relationship was over, the verging of their paths as Mr and Mrs perfect finally parting. Neither of them had ever been that.
"So… This is goodbye?"
Not yet, anyways. There were at least a few trips to the Thropps and back to get everything, but Glinda wasn't talking about just the present day and there was no need to clarify.
"It's see you later," Fiyero smiled. "Later," he repeated.
The first car full of bags was packed away and Fiyero lingered by it a moment.
"Later, then," she said and she wasn't just talking about the second trip in as long as it would take to unload it all with Elphaba's help.
Fiyero hugged her. In an odd but truthful way, it seemed to Glinda that this hug was the best they had ever shared.
Hey! Please please leave a comment if you've read this. Please.
Chapter 29: In which Boq gets a visit
Fiyero takes a whole three days to visit Boq after the engagement party − way more than enough to give him time to fret.
Fiyero came unannounced three days after the date of the party.
He was holding flowers, chocolates, heart-shaped balloons and a teddy bear almost nature sized when Boq opened the door. The tiny part of him that loved him and wanted nothing better than to instantly forgive him melted in his chest. The rest of him being heartbroken, he made sure to keep his face entirely in check. If Fiyero had wanted to reconcile, he might have come sooner, he might have made different choices. The door remained a sliver behind them at the threshold.
"I broke up with Glinda," Fiyero proclaimed loud and proud but his face betrayed him at once and he corrected himself. "That is, she broke up with me… We're broken up!"
Boq knew that already. Lonely as the past few weeks had been, he couldn't possibly have missed the stupidly long thread of posts Elphie had been tagged in by a much eager new girlfriend in the last few days. Elphaba, who had never been much for idle social media, could have been mistaken for an addict for how much of an appearance she had made on Boq's dashboard. Still, pained and heartbroken as he had been, as he still was, it had put a brief but sincere smile on his face to see her happiness. Green hand against a white pink one, embraces and the occasional kiss and selfies all over town… They had found each other. He looked at Fiyero and stopped himself from slamming the door shut, with the other boy outside or inside of it depending on the scenario.
"So you've come back to your second choice," he said thickly.
Fiyero's smile fell and he dropped his grasp on the balloons. They flew to the ceiling, out of reach.
"No!" He cried out. "No, Boq, that's not how it is!"
Boq leaned against the doorway. He would have to let him in, he supposed. The conversation would have to take place one way or another. Ever since he had learned that Glinda had left Fiyero, he had dreaded and hoped for a confrontation. The few days it had taken had been utter hell. He had been plagued with doubts or worse, complete conviction that Fiyero did not care about him and that once their dalliance had dried up, that there was nothing more he wanted from Boq and that he would never see his face again. Seeing it now, he wondered which alternative would have been preferable.
"Why didn't you come sooner, then?"
He had not meant to be so upfront, to put himself in such a vulnerable place so early in the discussion, but Fiyero looked contrite enough that he thought the question had hit the right spot.
"I wasn't sure you'd want me back…"
Boq wasn't so sure himself either.
He let him in, of course. He had to, didn't he? He was a nice boy, not the kind to close the door to someone's face, not the kind to refuse to give them a cup of tea, to hear what they had to say. He had been raised painfully well. In such moments, he couldn't help admiring Elphaba and her upfrontness bordering on rude more often than not. It must have saved her from some pain on many occasions. Boq had no such safety net and so he carelessly, ridiculously let Fiyero pass.
He hesitated before sitting, if only because there was still only one armchair but Boq gave him a nod of permission as he put on the kettle to make them tea. The teddy bear was gently sat by the desk, the flowers laid on the coffee table as well as the chocolates and, to Boq's surprise, many more gifts that one by one Fiyero pulled out of his pockets, many more than had met the eye. Soon there was a small pile of candy, soaps, a scented candle, more chocolate and what Boq recognized incredulously as engraved jewelry − he had never worn jewelry in his life. Finally all pockets of this clown jacket were emptied and Fiyero sat down, looking forlorn, all cards − which included several actual gift cards − laid on the table. Boq stared at him, at the heap of gifts that were supposed to buy his heart.
"What do you want, Fiyero?" He asked with a hint of bitterness.
He served him tea which Fiyero did not touch, his eyes entirely fixed on Boq with something soft in their gaze that made his chest tighten. He remained on the kitchen side of the tiny studio, leaning against the counter and staring back. If Fiyero had come to talk, then he would have to talk.
"To make things right," Fiyero replied and there was that innocence to him, wasn't there? Hadn't that been what had drawn Boq to him in the first place? That easy going smile, the simplicity of him, how comfortably he expressed himself. An easy plan to follow through for him, get ditched by Glinda and come beg at Boq's door, win him back, the end. The end…
"What things?" Boq retorted, "There are no more things. There hasn't been in a while."
"But what if I want there to be?"
The nerve of him, the audacity. Boq tried to take an angry sip of tea but it was boiling hot and he choked on it.
"Well, I don't," he said and the words cut him like a knife as he uttered them. The lies he could tell. Fiyero looked at him, the wealth of his eagerness to gain Boq's forgiveness a vast gap between them. Boq didn't want to give himself away so readily, he didn't want to be this easy, and yet… But Fiyero was wistful then and Boq remained silent.
"You didn't use to think so," he pointed out and then, Boq wanted to protest but Fiyero went on. "From the start, I mean. I knew you liked me immediately, I'm not stupid. I know people think I am but I'm not. I noticed from the start."
There couldn't be any surprise there, not really. Boq might have been an idiot in love from the very moment he had met Fiyero but they both knew who had started their affair. Boq hadn't thrown himself at Fiyero but he had responded all too eagerly from the first time and he had made a fool of himself. Today, he was resolved not to. He didn't reply.
"I never thought I'd… I didn't see myself as the type of person who cheats on his girlfriend, but I also didn't see myself as the type of person who falls for… for a guy. I suppose I justified it to myself, thinking it wasn't really me who did it, I wouldn't, I didn't wanna… It was just what we did, but it wasn't real, you know? Like if I didn't think I was that kind of guy, then that meant it wasn't really real."
"I don't know," Boq replied dryly. "Felt pretty real to me."
Fiyero sighed and shook his head.
"That's not how I mean it!" He groaned in frustration. "Ugh, I'm not explaining myself right…" He stood and Boq noted how much taller than him he was, even across the room. He didn't like that very much right now. "What I mean is, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Boq."
The tea cup was set aside. It had only been a pretext to distract himself − it hadn't worked at all. Boq could never distract himself from the presence of Fiyero.
Fiyero looked like he had hoped for that last part to be enough but was still determined to be through with it all.
"The way I put you in a position to… Well, I was careless with your feelings and also with mine and…"
"Your feelings," Boq noted. He didn't know why he wanted reassurance on this, not when he was half convincing himself not to throw Fiyero out of his home right this instant, half not to jump into his arms. "So there were feelings."
Fiyero had not expected that.
"There were," he said, his eyes wide with surprise. "Of course there were! There… There are."
There was silence as Boq tried to pretend that his heart wasn't giddy with the confession.
"If we're both being honest about this," he said hesitantly, "I thought it was just a sex thing for you. I thought you liked me maybe as an ugly friend who you pity fuck and…"
"No! No, what are you talking about? No!" Boq looked down self consciously and when he looked back up, Fiyero was much closer but not daring to take the last couple steps between them. Boq wondered if he had rather he would have. "It was never just a sex thing."
Something like relief dropped deep in Boq's chest, his shoulders sagging.
"No! I… knew you liked me and I liked the attention," Fiyero said, "But I liked it because it came from you. I'm not the best at… well, understanding feelings or whatever, I guess, but it was never a pity fuck, what even are you talking about? And you're not ugly at all, you're very cute and I… I like you a lot. I always have."
Some part of Boq wanted to listen to those pretty words and be swayed by them. It wanted to drag down Fiyero by his collar and kiss him, to forget all doubts, to ignore the past and avoid it. The other part of him was stronger.
"And what about Glinda?"
Another sigh and Fiyero was standing closer still, so close to Boq that they could be touching if either of them dared to.
"I don't know what about her," he said. "You were being distant and she was being nice to me and I thought that if I made her happy, then my life would be, I don't know, more stable and it'd be easier to make more room for you or something, it was… It was the worst mistake of my life. It was stupid." He paused and for some unknown reason, added, "She's a lesbian now."
Boq snorted despite himself, which made Fiyero smile.
"She was a lesbian then," Boq clarified and Fiyero nodded.
"Now I know that but I… I was afraid to let go of her because I knew what I wanted and it scared me. I didn't know if I would ever be ready to be in a relationship with a man, I mean. I still don't know, even if I want to but… It's hard."
Boq was flabbergasted. Poking at Fiyero's chest, he retorted.
"Do you think that choice is just up to you?!" He cried. "I was your… your secret… I'm not that anymore, I don't want to be that anymore. It's boyfriends or nothing."
Fiyero grabbed Boq's hand and flattened it on his chest and underneath it Boq could feel a steady, strong heartbeat, warm skin trapping him.
Boq felt his cheeks warming up and hated himself for it. He had never been the impetuous type and in the worst moment, his mouth had found a way to speak his mind without any input on his part. Fiyero's hand against his, though, the feel of his torso… He looked up and found Fiyero's eyes staring deep into his, asking the question he had come here to ask without saying anything. Boq opened his mouth but, having betrayed him just a moment before, it was refusing to obey even now and he shut it without having said a word. He shrugged.
"Alright," Fiyero said and put a smile on his face. "Alright, then. Boyfriends it is."
Boq snatched his hand back with difficulty − Fiyero was after all much stronger than him and was grasping onto whatever morsel of affection Boq had given away. He frowned.
"I don't know, you haven't asked nicely."
He was pouting, but Fiyero took to his impertinence with a grin. Dropping to one knee, he looked up at Boq.
"Will you do me the honor, Boq…" He stopped right in his tracks. Hurriedly, he asked, "What's your last name? I don't even know your…"
"It's boyfriends, not husbands, get to the point."
Fiyero's grin was ridiculously wicked. Gently grabbing Boq's hand between his, he pressed a kiss against his trembling knuckles and asked nicely.
"Will you be my boyfriend?"
Boq's heart was beating hard and he was sure that Fiyero could feel the pulse between his hands at his wrist. It was stupid. It was absolutely reckless. Fiyero had hurt his feelings, had treated him unfairly and Boq wasn't sure he deserved to drop by and deserve his forgiveness all because he asked nicely. But then… Boq himself had not been the exemplary young man either. He didn't know if he had been unfair to Fiyero in particular, but he sure had betrayed Glinda and he had betrayed himself and his own morality. He had made mistakes, as had Fiyero, and he really, really, really wanted to put them all behind and for his own sake if not for Fiyero's to just be happy…
"I don't know yet, I'll let you know in two to five business days," he replied flatly. Fiyero cocked an eyebrow, pressed another kiss, a more insistent one. "Okay, fine, alright, I'll be your boyfriend."
Fiyero was back to his feet in no time. An arm wrapping around Boq's waist, he pulled him close. The next kisses were on the mouth, down the neck. Many more kisses came after that and after those, then, then came happiness.
PLEASE leave a comment to let me know how you liked this chapter! Did you like the Boq/Fiyero plotline of this story? Would you like me to write more of that pairing? What do you want to read if so? Please let me know everything!
Chapter 30: In which all is well that ends well
Epilogue. A few months after the story.
A HUGE thank you to Splashy for her constant support through this fic. You're the reason I've finished it. Thanks so much for your comments and kind words every time I updated. It meant the world.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"I still believe this is your worst decision to date," Elphaba announced for the seventh time since waking up, which had been as many minutes before.
Glinda laughed, sorting through her closet for an outfit that said "I am an independent young woman and I'm not afraid of anything, but I also care for all of you genuinely and individually. I'm glad we're having this get together". It was a tough message to get across with just a few garments.
"I'd be offended you have such little faith in me," she told the wicked thing still lying in bed, "if I wasn't so certain that everything will be alright. Go and turn on the shower, I'll be here in a minute."
Their new apartment had a tiny bedroom, which was also their living room and dining room and the cat's bed, but the bathroom was decent sized and that was all Glinda had asked for. The shower fit two people − narrowly, but they enjoyed the proximity. Glinda settled for a bright yellow dress to mark the first day of summer. She laid it out on the bed and joined Elphaba in the shower where she gave her all the occasions she needed to unwind before the big day about to start.
It had hardly taken a few months for them to move in together. Sharing a single twin bed, as it turned out, was not as glamorous as one might believe. Neither was living in the smallest room of a small apartment with your newly defined girlfriend… and her mother. That wasn't even mentioning Nanny's numerous and all more ridiculously unmotivated than the next visits to the household. It had all been too much for the little couple in training, still learning to be girlfriends. Guiltily, making her mother promises of help in the future despite the (very short) distance, Elphaba had relented to Glinda's repeated offers of making a home of their own and they had moved out.
It had only been a few weeks and already, Glinda knew she wouldn't be able to live any other way. Of course, she wasn't much more passionate about her new job at the bakery than she had been at the coffee shop and school had only gotten a bit more interesting thanks to Elphaba's passionate private lessons (she seemed to know everything about any topic, Glinda often told herself). The thrill of it all, the joy so deeply seated she wondered how she could have ever breathed and lived without it, was to live true to herself. In everything she did, there was love for Elphaba, there was independence from the world except for the green girl who shared and was her life. She would endure all the morning shifts and boring lectures life threw at her if she could come home to that very same girl every night.
It was the honeymoon phase, she supposed. She had been warned about it by a curiously stern Melena Thropp. Glinda, though intrigued, had only nodded. So what if it was only the beginning? The flames might become less exuberant, less vivid over time − and even then, who was to deny they might not? − but the fire that had been lit would never be put out. When the time would come, she was ready for the ash-covered embers of routine. They would warm her just as well, she was sure. And till then, she lived for the heat.
One too long shower later, the water turned lukewarm but their bodies burning under it, Elphaba put into decent clothing was groaning just a touch less moodily than before. Glinda supposed that was as much of a success as she could count.
"What time did you tell them to come?"
Glinda gave the answer, somewhere around noon, which was received with stupefaction.
"But that's hours from now! You might need that much time to get ready but I really don't."
Glinda ignored the remark on her own habits because she knew it to be well meant − and accurate besides that − and, shoving an apron in Elphaba's arms, she pulled her into the kitchen. Or rather, in the corner of their little apartment which had a toaster oven, a narrow sink and a hotplate. That did well enough for them both and it would be enough for this day. She had a good feeling about it.
"If you want them to have nothing on their plates," Glinda retorted. She was struggling with her own apron and Elphaba tied it for her, long skinny hands knotting the strands of fabric and tickling her back. "Lunches don't cook themselves."
"I still don't know why we're not getting takeouts."
"Yes, you do know why because I have explained to you why before. Don't you know that lying is a naughty thing to do to your own lady love?"
That had Elphaba snorting, trying to pretend she was still as frustrated as she had been since earlier this morning, and indeed since Glinda had announced to her the intention of this get together last week. But Glinda could coax out the charming pleasant thing hidden deep inside her and for this occasion, she would.
Although in effect, that was all they were doing, the point was not just to cook a meal for Melena, Nanny, Glinda's parents, Milla, Boq and Fiyero − how Glinda liked to have those be a unit closing the list. It was more to show a capacity for independence, for taking care of themselves and each other. To show that defying all the rules she had been taught hadn't been for nothing, had led to something great, more than great. The point was to prove that, though on a different path than either of them had expected, they were on the exact perfect path for them. That part, Glinda did not worry much about. Their love for each other, their evident desire to have a simple, fulfilling life would be plenty enough to prove it.
The cooking was the hardest part, considering neither of them were any good at it. Elphaba was a bit better by the mere fact of not having had a cook at home for most of her childhood, but not by much for the equally true fact that she had never bothered to take an interest into cooking even when it had been her responsibility during Melena's worst moments. They were both a disaster. At least, Glinda told herself, they were having fun attempting a meal for the whole bunch of people they had invited, and that surely must have counted for something. Most of them had already paid them a visit individually, but it was the first time they received as many people at once. They would have to sit on the floor around the coffee table to fit them all, but it was a sure sign of reconciliation and she took whatever she could. Her parents had taken weeks to talk to her again after the party. Whatever attention they paid her now, she took without asking. And surely, it wouldn't hurt for them to see Fiyero living his own happy little life with his boyfriend.
"Honey, where did you put the…" Elphaba stopped in her tracks when she turned around from mixing the batter. "… chocolate chips…"
Glinda hastily closed her mouth but she could feel the smudge of chocolate at her lips. Caught like a rat in a trap.
"I don't know?"
Elphaba only laughed, grabbing the jar from her.
"I'll be baking the cookies then, thank you."
Glinda stuck out her tongue and only received a kiss on the nose as Elphaba took over the baking. It was silly, and it was deserved, and it was perfect.
Milla was the first one to arrive, a tad too early to offer her help, which Elphaba vehemently refused. Milla offered a second time and a third. Always the polite one, the helpful one. Glinda smiled at her.
She had lost Pfannee and Shenshen over this mess of a situation. Sometimes, she wondered if they had not been looking for an opportunity to ditch her. More often than that, she just didn't think about them. They had just been friends already on a diverging path and their homophobia had marked the last goodbye − even if Pfannee presented her apologies now, Glinda didn't think she would forgive the fake invitation to humiliate Elphaba and herself. That bridge was burned behind her before she even knew it needed crossing. Besides, Elphaba had had so much more to lose in their coming out. Glinda had lost two foolish girls, but Elphaba was without a father and a distanced sister. Of course, Elphaba was utterly devoted to Nessarose even now. They had started texting a while ago, though without Frexspar's knowledge. Still, Glinda had used to be so concerned with her social life that the loss of two friends had not been nothing and she was glad for the one who had remained.
What had been a much more unexpected blessing was Boq and Fiyero. In many ways, she got on better with him now that all pretense was gone. She might not have been over the moon when Fiyero had admitted to the affair they had entertained for months, but that had only been a foolish sense of stung bride. Knowing that Fiyero was as entirely detached from their past shell of a relationship was reassuring and, on top of it, she had found in Boq a sure friend. Elphaba had sold him short, for lack of a better word. They arrived a little time after Milla, surely Boq's doing rather than Fiyero's. Glinda hugged him warmly and starting chatting with him at once, only including Elphaba so that she would not be left to make Fiyero conversation. She had not taken to him quite as readily as Glinda had to Boq.
Then came the adults, of course, Nanny criticizing every aspect of the apartment that she dared, Glinda's mother not saying a word but most likely thinking no less, Melena making jokes at Glinda's father to lighten their tense mood. The room was much too crowded but Glinda liked a full room, if only because it came with the certainty that the night would be so, so much more quiet and enjoyable after the buzz of activity during the day.
They all mingled quite readily for people who had never been gathered in a same room before. Elphaba was busy being told by Nanny all the improvements she could have made to the dishes and, before she could say a word, was defended by Boq, who thought everything was well and good and that she should be proud of herself. Fiyero was saying that he and Boq might some day be ready for the next step, perhaps, and were thinking about getting a dog. Melena was admiring his muscles under Larena's dubious stare, but she was quickly distracted by Milla making pleasant conversation free from any subject of contention − school, Glinda thought, or fashion, or something like that. Highmuster had fallen asleep on the couch, which Glinda took as great compliment on their cooking after all. The cat had made its home on his torso and was purring softly.
It was a life. Not the one she had expected, not the one Elphaba had anticipated, but the one they had chosen. The messy pieces that were the lives they had led before were only now starting to fit together, families and friends meeting and hopefully getting along − or some semblance of it. The core of it, though, their relationship, fit like a glove, snug and cosy.
"You look wistful," Elphaba said.
Glinda startled. Lost in thoughts, she had not noticed that Elphaba had skipped a few seats to take the spot Highmuster had left empty for his nap. She smiled.
"All good, I hope," Elphie smiled back.
Under the table, their hands touched, fingers entwining.
"All good," Glinda nodded. She hesitated, not sure if her words were for the rest of the table to hear, but as all seemed otherwise busy and she had no shame in her feelings, she said softly, "I love you."
Elphaba's eyes turned meek and soft whenever Glinda said it, which had only been a few times so far. The hand squeezed hers.
"And I love you," she replied, a whisper, a secret that everybody knew.
And it was as simple as that, no matter how difficult the road up to here had been. In the midst of their bickering and bonding families, having lost some but won so much more in the bargain, Glinda loved Elphaba and Elphaba loved Glinda. They had found each other and after much circling around, had latched onto each other for good. And nothing would ever part them again.
PLEASE leave a comment if you've read this! Please! I hope you enjoyed this fic. I know it's late to finish it in March even though it's a NaNoWriMo fic but hey, better late than never.
Please tell me if you liked it and what you liked, and if you would like me to write more modern AU Gelphie or Fiq in the future.