|Emerald Limelight by Lumiére & Callita. R 22/27
||[Aug. 27th, 2008|10:24 am]
Title: Emerald Limelight 22/27|
Authors: Lumiére and Callita
Pairing(s): Idina/Kristin, Elphaba/Glinda (& more)
Summary: It's all levitating danishes and talk of demons at Shiz, while Elphaba spends the night before her first show... watching a film about fish?
Disclaimer: This is an entirely non-profit work of fiction. We do not claim ownership of the world or any of the characters we write about. They are either real people, or are fictional characters belonging to Gregory Maguire and the copyright holders of the Wicked musical.
Wordcount: 8, 872
Chapter 2, Part 1 Chapter 6, Part 1 Chapter 10, Part 1
Chapter 2, Part 2 Chapter 6, Part 2 Chapter 10, Part 2
Chapter 3, Part 1 Chapter 7, Part 1 Chapter 11, Part 1
Chapter 3, Part 2 Chapter 7, Part 2
Chapter 4, Part 1 Chapter 8, Part 1
Chapter 4, Part 2 Chapter 8, Part 2
Chapter 5, Part 1 Chapter 9, Part 1
Chapter 5, Part 2 Chapter 9, Part 2
Chapter 11, Part 2
A rather mild afternoon had groups of Shiz students ambling the grounds to and from campus, to each annex, and some walking by the canal deep in conversation on matters far too great to seem remotely credible. As such were the students of Shiz, attending the most prestigious institute of higher learning in all of Oz. They were full of self worth and blind to their general imbecilic natures. Idina felt glad that she (or, Elphaba, really) was outside those masses, free from the social bindings that made most of the students seem so uptight. She was glad too that Elphaba's friends – aside, possibly, from Nessarose – felt the same way, as they laughed and frolicked beside the canal. Far enough to have some privacy from the main trails of journeying students, but hardly in hiding.
They had stretched a quilt out on the grass, and had snacks and drinks scattered precariously between the books and papers they were meant to be focussing on. Crope had taken to lying on his side, with Tibbett dangling a flower and dipping it into his ear, making both giggle. Boq sat beside them, quietly eating an apple, and trying in vain to concentrate on his own studies; Nanny and Nessarose beside him, with Nanny tutting and fretting over pastry crumbs on Nessarose's dress, while the girl mostly ignored her, focussing instead, on the demon masquerading as her sister. She had a look of conflict upon her pretty face, perhaps due to the obvious display of sorcery going on. But Idina seemed unaware as she enthusiastically practised her new-found demonic skills under Glinda's tutelage.
Unbeknownst to Idina, Nessarose had settled into a particularly withering scowl while watching her. It was one thing for Glinda and Idina to show magic on demand within the confines of their rooms, but another to do it in public and while so light of heart. She wondered if they had forgotten how tumultuous this time was. How Elphaba was likely suffering in the depths of a flaming hell, while they dawdled and had such fun.
Increasingly grim, Nessarose couldn't tear her eyes away from the two. When Glinda laughed again, poking Idina who was concentrating on floating a danish from her palm, Nessarose sighed. Now there was an assortment of snacks hovering among them, as well as the odd flower and one spoon. Idina smirked and made a motion. The danish ambled over to Nanny, coming to a stop just above her head. “Nanny!” Nessarose cried, but the woman, too, seemed amused and commended Idina in her skill. Again.
“Green bean! How marvellous you are!” Crope exclaimed happily, still on his side. Then he gave a jolt when the flower dipped into his ear again. “Must you tickle me so, you fiend? And in public too.”
“That's never stopped us before,” Tibbett replied and delightedly dropped the flower neatly into its fleshy cave.
“My auricle!” Crope cried.
“But it suits you. Like a pair of new stockings.” Tibbett giggled again, when Crope sat up with the flower still in place.
“Does it accentuate my dashing good looks and suspiciously pretty eyes?”
“It does indeed, my flower boy. It does indeed.”
“Please don't start 'wrestling' and end up in each other's laps again,” Boq muttered, flicking a page of his textbook. “I'll never learn this passage.”
Crope plucked an éclair from the air beside him and aimed it at Boq's head. Despite the alarmingly effeminate arm motion, it did hit its target, and left a smear of cream along Boq's temple. “If it's not in already, it'll never go in. I suppose it's just too much,” he said with a grin and waggled his eyebrows. “You should join us in the flower frolics.”
“Or the pastry frolics,” Idina said, squinting as she tried to get a grape to do a figure eight in the air.
Nessarose huffed, and finally turned to Boq. “Really. You should be sensible and continue studying.”
“You should get a flower in your ear too, Nessa,” Tibbett giggled.
“For shame. If you come near me with such intentions of violating my ears, I will have Nanny abuse you.” She hastily added once Tibbett's giggles had doubled: “In ways you would not like!”
“Man, Nessa's in a bad mood,” Idina muttered, glancing at a reddening Nessarose. “Maybe I could toss this grape her way. Might make her laugh.”
Glinda grimaced. “She may keel over from the shock of it. In more ways than one.”
“And that would be bad.”
“Yes. Yes it would.”
Idina turned to Glinda with a smirk and a raised eyebrow, taking in the growing rosiness in her cheeks. “And she calls me the demon? You have a cruel streak!”
“I do not!” Glinda whispered. “It's... simply the sun—”
“Beating down on us. Leads to odd behaviour...”
“Like flowers in the ears.”
As if on cue, Crope sneezed and the flower went flying out, landing in Boq's book. The Queens boys fell over in a heap, laughing, and nearly in each other's laps while Boq stared at it in a mixture of curiosity and repulsion. Nessarose decided they were more worthy of her glare for a moment, while Nanny began eating the danish from the air above her head, piece by piece, and humming to herself.
Idina laughed again and hovered the flower under Boq's nose, who froze in fright before sneezing too.
“Demon,” Glinda whispered.
“Just Dee's fine,” Idina replied amusedly, watching the antics in front of her.
“How funny.” Glinda rested a hand on Idina's bony shoulder, prompting her to turn. “You're doing amazingly, you know.”
“So we should set our sights higher again.” Glinda smirked and Idina's eyes widened. “Practice the glamour spell on Nessa.”
“You would enjoy it.”
“And so would you!”
“I'll do Crope—”
“Finally!” Crope cried. He batted his eyelashes at her. “I've been waiting for this day – ow.” He rubbed his back where Tibbett had poked him. “Don't be jealous.”
“I've been waiting longer,” Tibbett whined. “Green Bean. Really, choose me. I'm prettier than he is.”
“Go on then,” Glinda prompted, giggling.
“Oh... well...” Idina mumbled.
“Do it. Concentrate.”
It was a fun idea, Idina reasoned. The effects wouldn't last long if there was another unfortunate mishap. She kept half a mind on the hovering snacks among them as she ran through syllables under her breath. Crope and Tibbett both looked hopeful, but Crope was just a little closer. She reached a hand out, directing the spell, and a smirk came to her lips just as the last syllable escaped. Several gasps, and she held her breath, watching as a faint stream of colour erupted from her fingertips, arcing through the air and engulfing Crope's head. He jerked and twisted back, maybe under the force of it, but on righting himself, everyone let out a collective sigh – some of relief, some of shock, and in Nessarose's case, alarm.
Idina grinned as Glinda let out a chuckle. Boq just stared. “Suits you,” Idina said. “That lipstick's a lovely shade.”
Crop smacked his lips, feeling the new presumably waxy texture, then puckered. “I feel like a new girl.”
“You look like one,” Tibbett said, smiling, then caressed the side of Crope's face. “It's rather well done. Who knew you were such a whiz, Elphie? At magical make-up, of all things.”
Idina shrugged, her eyes sparkling. “I have hidden talents.”
“It's obscene,” Nessarose stated. “A boy, even if he is of the likes of you, should not be wearing cosmetics.”
“I feel quite at home,” Crope said.
“And you should certainly not be accustomed to it!” Nessarose cried. “Nanny! Nanny, it's odd isn't it? Tell me it's odd.”
The old woman took a moment to think, having settled into some kind of content sugar induced stupor. She clucked, then hummed, then let out a burp.
“Nanny!” Nessarose cried.
“Deary me. My constitution isn't what it used to be.” She patted Nessarose on the head, smiling a little vacantly. “I think he looks wonderful. How the rouge makes you seem a high-class lady of the night, my sweet. Many would pay good aurets for you – you remind me of Melena, actually. When she was younger. More colourful.”
Nessarose grew purple.
“She made a good many aurets too—”
“Nanny!” Nessarose cried.
Crope snorted rather unattractively, despite his new glamorous face, and Idina wondered if she should feel offended on Elphaba's behalf.
“Nevermind me, dear,” Nanny said, patting Nessarose on the head again. “Leave an old woman to her memories. I'm too old to create new ones.”
“You see, half the time,” Glinda whispered, “I'm almost certain Nanny is referring to indecent things. But I can't be sure.”
“You can trust me on this,” Idina said. “The woman is as dirty as they come.”
“I'm sure she washes!” Glinda proclaimed.
“Sex on the brain, Glinda.”
Tibbett waved his hands in the air, trying to catch Idina's attention. “Me! Me me! Do me now!”
“How shameful,” Nessarose sighed, looking up as if seeking the guidance from the Unnamed God. “As if one isn't enough.”
Another stream of colour, and Tibbett was wide-eyed and feeling his own face. “Oooo,” he said.
“I don't know who's prettier!” Glinda proclaimed happily.
Boq's book lay forgotten on the quilt beside him, and he had an uneasy smile on his face, as he watched his green friend turn and hurl a spell at a surprised and shrieking Glinda.
“But I – I was already wearing make-up!”
Idina grinned. “Now you're wearing more.”
“For the love of Oz... I imagine you have me looking like a creature of the night also!”
Boq cleared his throat, and a squeak came out. He had been about to speak, until he saw Nessarose glare at him. “Oh, what?”
“I would be eternally disappointed if you decided to descend into such debauched acts also—” she convulsed “—DEMON!”
Everyone aside from Nessarose laughed rather loudly. Her normally narrow blue eyes had widened into a frozen state of shock, and were now surrounded by masses of mascara and blue eye shadow. She trembled, and her incredibly rouged cheeks grew even more red. Nanny patted her on the head again.
“Oh, Nessa!” Tibbett sobbed with laughter. “Nessa...”
“It wasn't me,” Idina choked out. “It was... Glinda. It was her fault. Damn her.”
Glinda was laughing too hard to oppose and it was only once she caught sight of Milla and Shenshen hurrying past, that she quietened.
* * *
“There’s no place like home!” Kristin trilled as the cab drew up outside her apartment building. Elphaba smiled, recognising the line as one from the show.
“Why does the audience always laugh at that line?” she asked as Kristin paid the cab-driver, discreetly signing an autograph at his request.
“What was that, honey?”
“That line, ‘there’s no place like home’. Michelle and Eden always have to pause there for the laughter to stop. I don’t see what’s so amusing about it.”
“Well it’s straight out of The Wizard Of Oz,” Kristin said as she unlocked the door to the building and led Elphaba to the elevator, as if that explained everything. “It parodies it, which is really what the whole show is doing. It’s like the whole ‘lemons and melons and pears’ ‘oh my!’ sequence. Familiar lines, taken out of context. It’s Judy Garland’s phrase, twisted into something the Wicked Witch would say. Do you see?”
Elphaba, who had not been able to avoid hearing about this other book, The Wizard Of Oz, had nonetheless resolutely ignored it. Reading about her own life from the point of view of some stranger had been hard enough; she didn’t think she could take the propaganda fiction that had come before it, and certainly not in moving-picture form, with some doe-eyed girl in pigtails playing the dreaded Dorothy. Kristin, of course, wasn’t to know that. As far as she was concerned, Idina’s memory was recovering, leaving no room for irrational fears of old films.
“Ah,” Elphaba said at last. “Of course.”
The elevator doors slid open again, and Kristin fumbled with her keys, trying to hold too many things at once with a slight awkwardness Elphaba couldn’t help noticing. She had the odd feeling of having been here before, but that was impossible, and wouldn’t have explained Kristin’s anxiety anyway. There was a sudden bout of manic yapping as the door was unlocked, and the sound of claws scrabbling at the door.
“Maddie!” The absurd little dog tried to jump into Kristin’s laden arms, wagging her tail furiously.
“You keep her in the apartment by herself?” Elphaba asked, shocked. Kristin had seemed so obsessively compassionate when it came to her pet.
“Of course not! She’s been with—”
A girl of about sixteen wearing far too much make-up, Elphaba thought, appeared in the doorway, rubbing her eyes.
“Hey, Miss Chenoweth. Good show?”
“Wonderful, thank you sweetie,” Kristin smiled, putting down her bags and scooping up Maddie to give her a cuddle. “How was she this evening?”
“I took her for her walk, as usual, and then we’ve just been watching TV. The Blair Witch Project was on. We hid behind the couch together.”
“Sounds like fun.” Kristin lodged the dog under one arm as she dug into her pocket, then handed a couple of crumpled notes to the girl. “Thanks again, honey.”
“My pleasure. Same time tomorrow?”
“I may be back later than usual tomorrow. It’s a big night for Dee, so we’ll probably be going out after. Do you mind staying up for me? Or take her back to yours if it gets too late for you. I’ll pick her up in the morning. Of course I’ll pay you extra for the trouble.”
“No problem, Miss Chenoweth. She can stay over at mine, but I’ll make she’s put to bed normal time. Goodnight Maddie!” The girl patted Maddie’s head, then left the apartment, humming to herself.
“My dog-minder,” Kristin explained as Elphaba watched the girl go. “She's a lovely girl. Lives on the ground floor. She’s saving up to go to drama school, so she tells me, and does auditions on the side. You remember what it’s like at that age. She minds Maddie most evenings when I’m at the theatre, unless it’s a matinee day, and then I take her in with me. Maddie just adores her, don’t you, darling?” Maddie tried to lick Kristin’s nose and Kristin giggled. The phone suddenly started ringing, making Elphaba flinch and Maddie yelp. “That’ll probably be the others. Take Maddie for a second, would you?”
Elphaba found herself with her arms full of dog, as Kristin dashed off to another room to answer the phone.
“Did you enjoy the ‘Blair Witch Project’?” Elphaba asked Maddie once Kristin was out of earshot, though she had no clue what such a thing could be. It seemed like this culture was obsessed with witches, although, she had to admit, Oz could be much the same with its outdated superstitions and contradictory rumours. Maddie nuzzled her armpit. “No, I can’t imagine it would be hugely enjoyable.” The dog fixed Elphaba with huge dark eyes, looking as sentient as Elphaba had ever seen from any animal or Animal. “Tell me, Maddie, what would you do if you were me? It seems I have found myself in rather an awkward situation. I’ve been lying to people who think I’m their friend, pretending to be someone I’m not, and through my own selfish actions, I may have endangered an innocent women. I’ve got no way of getting back to the person I care about most, even though she’s the one who caused me to be here. And now the only one I can talk to about all this is someone else’s dog, who probably doesn’t understand a word I’m saying.” Maddie yapped and pawed Elphaba’s cheek, as if trying to prove her wrong. “So, what would you do in my position?”
“What position would that be?” Kristin asked, coming in from the kitchen.
Elphaba hurriedly put Maddie down, “Just nervous about tomorrow,” she said quickly. “Who was on the phone?”
“Norbert. He and Chris are on their way. Got held up. Something about a crazy fan who tried to force him to take her underwear. Norbert, that is, not Chris. Chris didn’t get offered anyone’s underwear.”
“Quite.” The phone starting trilling again. “Could you get that? I want to change into something more comfortable before the others get here.”
“Hello?” Elphaba said into the mouthpiece as Kristin disappeared into another room.
“Hey, Dee.” Eden’s voice. “What? No, Michelle, it’s Dee. Huh? Yes, I’ll tell her. Give me a second. Sorry, Dee. Michelle keeps trying to – what? Oh for... here. You talk to her.”
“Eden?” Elphaba tried as the voices at the other end of the line became fuzzy. “Are you there?”
“Menzel, hey!” Elphaba flinched at the volume of Michelle’s voice. “Missing us yet?”
“Glad to here it. Listen, we’re in the cab, but I suddenly remembered what happened the last time we all hung out at Kristin’s. Check something for me, will you? Ask her what she has in her fridge.”
“Er, alright.” Elphaba made her way to the door Kristin had gone through. “Kristin? Michelle wants to know what you have in your fridge?”
“She wants to know what? Why on earth? Tell her the usual!”
“She says the usual.”
“Damn, that’s just what I feared.”
“Come on, Dee, you know Cheno. Normal for her is carrot sticks and bottled mineral water. Unless you want to starve, we’re going to have to go stock up on provisions. What, Eden? Of course it’s important! Well, you can spend the whole evening eating rodent food if you want to, my little guinea pig. Dee, tell Kristin we’re going to be late, okay?”
The phone went dead. Elphaba stared at it, confused.
“What did she want?” Kristin asked, coming back in wearing jeans that looked slightly older than the ones she had changed out of and a top that was clearly a different shade of pink.
“She says she’s going to be late. Something about stocking up on provisions. What’s wrong with what you have in your fridge?”
“Nothing!” Kristin blushed.
“So you have more than carrot sticks and mineral water?”
“Of course I do! There’s celery in there, for one thing. And some cherry tomatoes. And I bought some cream in case anyone wanted it in their coffee.” Elphaba couldn’t prevent herself from smiling. “That girl eats like a pig anyway,” Kristin muttered.
“I’ve noticed…” Elphaba trailed off, her eyes straying to the open door behind Kristin. She couldn’t see much: just a white fluffy rug on the floor and the edge of a bed with a lavender bedspread. Kristin’s high-heeled boots, discarded in favour of something more comfortable (she was now wearing powder-blue pumps) lay just within the doorway, next to a chair where a jacket had carelessly been flung. The complete picture, with Kristin running her hands through her hair in the foreground, was nothing remarkable, but it made Elphaba shudder. She felt the overwhelming power of intense déjà vu, ten times stronger than from stepping out of the elevator – the tips of her ears were tingling.
“Are you okay, Dee?” Kristin waved one hand in front of Elphaba’s face. “You’ve gone all vacant.”
“I’m… fine. Just—” Memories, she wanted to say, but she’d never been here before. Elphaba raised her head to look over Kristin’s shoulder, straining to see inside the bedroom, though she had no idea why. It was just another room, after all. Hardly likely to hold the key to getting back to Oz, or the answer as to why she was suddenly feeling so cursedly hot. “Have I been here before?” she asked, though she knew she must sound like an idiot. Of course Idina would have been to Kristin’s apartment, but that wasn’t why Elphaba had asked. Kristin’s reaction – a sudden flush of pink and the way she hurriedly slammed the bedroom door closed with her foot – told her everything.
“Is this your memory coming back?” Kristin practically squeaked. “Because that is so great. Sure, you’ve been here before. We used to hang out here loads, since your coffee is so bad I always insisted you come to mine.”
Elphaba wondered whether Kristin realised she was using the past tense. Did she just mean before Idina’s accident and her apparent amnesia, or had there been something else? Her eyes were drawn to an area of wall in the hallway, no different from any other, except that it burned in her mind. She reached out to touch it, and as her fingertips came into contact with the creamy wallpaper, a jolt of energy shot down her arm like an electric shock. She had a sudden inexplicable urge to press herself up against it; no, be pressed, back to the wall and with someone else’s…
She didn’t realise how dizzy she felt until Kristin’s hands were on her shoulders, steadying her.
“Easy, sweetie,” Kristin soothed. “Have you taken your medication today? Maybe we should call off the video night, if you’re not feeling so well.”
“No, it’s… it’s alright.”
And it was, somehow. Standing next to Kristin made her head stop spinning with blurred memories that couldn’t be hers, but her body - Idina’s body, she reminded herself – was responding on its own. She reached out to stroke Kristin’s hair, still damp from having washed out the glitter that inevitably clung to it after every show. Kristin breathed deeply, and Elphaba unexpectedly found herself wondering what she could do to affect the blonde’s breathing even more. What it would be like to feel Kristin gasp against her, and how…
Kristin sprang away from her like a bullet. Her cheeks were bright pink, but whether it was just embarrassment, or something more, Elphaba couldn’t tell. For a moment she didn’t speak, she just stood there looking questioning, but when it became clear Elphaba didn’t have any answers, Kristin’s natural instincts to take care of everyone kicked in.
“Well if you’re sure you don’t want to cancel, at least let me get you some water,” she said with high-pitched cheeriness, disappearing into the kitchen.
“Er, thank you.”
“Anything else I can get you? Some carrot sticks?” Kristin was sounding flustered now, as if she had suddenly realised that the two of them would be alone in her apartment for some time.
“Nothing, thank you.” Elphaba followed her into the kitchen just in time to have a bottle of mineral water thrust at her. “Look, Kristin, are you alright?”
“Couldn’t be happier, sweetie.” A wide smile showing perfectly white teeth. “And you? Feeling okay about tomorrow?”
“As ready as I’m ever going to be. Except—”
“We’re all behind you one hundred per cent, Dee. You know that. Even Joe’s impressed.” She was babbling now, and growing steadily more high-pitched. “I’m so proud of you, Dee, and tonight’s for you, okay? No worrying about the show.”
“I wasn’t going to mention—”
“Great!” The phone rang yet again, and Kristin practically dived to answer it. “Hi! I’m not sure, hang on.” She gestured to Elphaba. “Eden wants to know whether you want pizza or Chinese?”
“Either,” sighed Elphaba, who had no idea what ‘Chinese’ was. “Just no meat.”
“Get both,” Kristin told Eden. “Just go easy on the prawn.”
* * *
Idina decided the wine in this pub wasn't as bad as she had originally thought. Perhaps because she had already had two full glasses of it. Maybe by the fourth, it would seem a gift from God – or the Unnamed God, as the case seemed to be here. She briefly mulled ideas of relative theology around in her mind, before realising that she was due to finish her Life Sciences homework. Probably the same that Boq was still trying to do, but yet again, she opted for procrastination instead. Rather than focusing on how lax she was being in maintaining Elphaba's studies, she took another sip of the questionable wine. Homework wasn't something she had missed and was even more upset about it than the rampaging teenage hormones she was constantly battling.
Idina's face suddenly grew hot. Just the thought of the hormones and she was already flushing and squeezing her legs shut. “Christ,” she muttered, and gulped down the rest of the offensive liquid before leaning back in her chair, taking one deep breath after another of the rancid pub air. Beside her, Glinda giggled at something said by Tibbett (who was still wearing make-up, though it had faded a little). Maybe Idina's disordered thoughts were a result of the sugar too, from all the danishes earlier. She smiled and let her eyes roam her surroundings a little more, hormones temporarily forgotten.
She saw Nessarose looking stern, as if fully immersed in silently judging. But from what Idina knew of the girl, Nessarose wouldn't stay silent for long. How long would it take for the scathing words to spew into existence? And what would they be about? Her make-up had already faded. Faster, for some reason, than the boys.
Boq hiccupped and frowned into his drink while clutching the same textbook from all afternoon. Despite the alcohol, he seemed to be on a downer. Idina smiled and asked him what was wrong.
“I may be failing Life Sciences,” he replied, and hiccupped again.
“Boq, I'm sure you'll be fine. You tend to be very studious,” Glinda said, seeming, Idina thought, like a Mother Duck. Crope and Tibbett nodded in agreement, revising their jolly expressions into glum ones.
“Annoyingly so,” Tibbett said. “We are young. Fresh. We must enjoy life and all its perks at this age, rather than regret it later on. Who knows what'll happen in the future.”
Nessarose scowled even more. “But responsibility must still be taken,” she said, shooting a glare Idina's way, who was already looking cowed as she thought of Tibbett's future in Maguire's book. She looked up at him with sad eyes, hoping that it would be another difference. Like Melena. Like Nessa.
“Don't listen to her,” Crope said, waving his hand in dismissal.
Nessarose looked affronted. “And why not?”
“Well, a girl that condemns make-up and refers to demons in every other sentence can hardly be trusted. I'm not sure you would know it if 'fun' came up and bit you on the behind.” He laughed. “Or... really... took you from behind.”
While Nessarose spluttered, Glinda took the moment to sigh warily. “Must you be so inflammatory, Crope? Must you?”
“I'm trying to awaken the fun loving fairy inside her. I'm sure Nessa has the potential to be such a kinky little thing.”
“Oh God,” Idina said. She noticed Nessarose's returned hue of near-combustible-purple, and while it added some interesting colour to her face, Idina wasn't looking forward to the coming outburst. But as if suddenly possessing sense enough, Crope attempted to retract his words. “I mean...” he started, and raised one shoulder in an apologetic twitch, “well, I meant it only light-heartedly.” But the damage had been done and Nessarose's mood darkened to an extreme level. The girl looked set to growl, or actually explode, as her hue suggested. She opened her mouth. Then she closed it. Deathly silence stretched on as they all watched her, frozen, unsure whether to laugh or run. Somehow, Idina could hear clicking each time Boq blinked. Dry eyes? Was the magicked make-up irritating him?
“I should have left with Nanny,” Nessarose eventually managed, and Idina gave a jolt.
“Huh?” she said, but Nessarose ignored her and cast her eyes upward as if appraising the skies again, only this time, it was the tobacco-stained ceiling.
“He was only joking, Nessa,” Glinda tried to placate. Idina couldn't bring herself to lie, especially while she was thinking that Nessa really should have gone with Nanny. She had decided that the girl was no fun at the best of times.
“But,” Tibbett said, holding a solitary finger up, and Nessarose graced him with her sharp gaze again.
“What?” she said, ready to be even more offended.
“You do mention demons rather a lot.”
“May I ask why? Or is that simply your particular area of interest? Condemnation and the condemned.”
“Oh, how deep!” Crope trilled, and licked his smiling lips.
Nessarose's eyes flickered over to him, then at Idina. “When a demon is in my presence, I suppose it weighs on my mind—”
“Oh, lark!” Crope cried. “Who? Who who? Me? Tell me it's me!”
“I'm being quite serious.”
“Nessa,” Idina warned. Her neck was beginning to hurt under the mounting stress.
“Amusing how you pay me mind only now. You've barely paid me any attention all day, Elphaba.”
“That's not true!” Idina's hand was clenching the edge of her seat, then loosened when she felt the brush of Glinda's fingers along her knuckles. “Nessa, don't...”
Glinda took the hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
Boq hiccupped and finally put his book down. “Am I missing something?”
“We have a demon at the table, supposedly,” Tibbett said, still eyeing Nessarose with more intensity anyone had ever seen. It was jarring, and that fact alone had Idina nearly whimpering in fright.
“Implications,” Boq said.
“Of what?” Crope prodded. “The kinky fairy? Us Queens are a little behind.”
“Of the demon, though I've not counted the amount of times it's popped up.”
Glinda had leant closer to Idina, whispering, “They're your friends.”
“They're not my friends.”
“But they've been transferred to you. They... well, they might understand. In fact it's very likely.” Idina, who could no longer bring herself to look anyone in the eye (in favour of the edge of the table, scorch mark and all) didn't see the boys' eyes on her and Glinda.
Nessarose sighed and sipped her cordial. “Well I won't say.”
“What?” Tibbett blanched. “You built it up and—”
“I see you two whispering,” Crope said, with mirth in his voice. “What is it, hmm? Plans for the evening? Fun plans? Just the two of you? How tantalizing!”
“Nessa,” Tibbett said, his eyes narrowed. “Why would you...?”
“This is the most you've ever spoken to me,” Nessarose said. “Or attention anyone's paid me.”
“So you're using it? That's not particularly admirable.”
“She's gonna say it,” Idina mumbled, and swayed to the left a little. Dizzy and nauseous, but Glinda steadied her.
“Beat her to it,” she said.
“Tell them. You may as well.”
“They'll be fine. You've been cornered anyway. We'll have to be rude and leave otherwise, and I'm not sure you can walk so fast in this state.”
“I'm not drunk.”
“It's not my secret to tell,” Nessarose said rather loudly.
“Then what was the point!” Tibbett said, red in the face. “I'm not sure what your point ever is.”
“Jesus,” Idina murmured, and clutched Glinda's hand tighter. “Tibbett, calm down. You're drunk.”
“Like hell I am!”
“Don't you want to know the big secret? It's a good one.”
“Oh, you know it?” he said, his mood lightening. Nessarose sulked as he turned to Idina, looking far from happy. “Well?”
“I'm the demon.”
Nessarose twitched, and Boq gave an almighty loud blink that had even Crope glancing at him before laughing.
“Oh really?” Tibbett said, then finally laughed too. “Elphie, who knew you had all these hidden talents! Hmm. Though I'm sure Glinda knows them all. Intimately.”
“Er,” Glinda said.
“Listen.” Idina motioned for them all to lean in. “It's of a private nature.”
Crope clapped his hands gleefully.
“I'm Dee, not Elphaba.”
“Short for demon,” Nessarose said.
“Idina,” Idina said.
“Not Elphaba?” Tibbett gasped.
“Id-ee-na,” Crope murmured thoughtfully. “I'm sure I have a cousin by that name. He has an interesting penchant for dressing in lady's clothing. Garters included.”
“Must run in the family,” Boq said.
“So it's a new nickname?” Tibbett questioned. “Like how Glinda dropped the 'guh'?”
“Er,” Glinda said again.
“I switched. She's somewhere else. I'm working to return home,” Idina said. She continued watching the boys for their reactions, but they seemed frozen.
“I'm confused, Elphie,” Boq said eventually, scratching his head. “You're a demon, or you're not a demon?”
Idina realised this conversation would have been far easier had they been sober.
* * *
Elphaba suspected the others couldn't have arrived sooner for Kristin. The half hour it took for them to gather their provisions had proved the woman's undoing. How she flitted about rambling on the most random of matters, punctuated by apologies of the state of the apartment. She was careful to keep her distance from Elphaba, who had eventually taken a seat on the sofa, feeling entirely out of place and unsure whether she was meant to reassure Kristin every time the ramblings reached a peak. Perhaps for this reason, she was also glad when there was a particularly loud thump against the door, followed by Kristin dashing toward it, with a yapping Maddie close on her heels.
“We're not interrupting are we?” Michelle inquired with a grin, as she waddled through and dropped her clanking bags on the coffee table in front of Elphaba. “I bring drinks. Special juice.”
Eden was behind, blushing and carrying steaming bags, as was Norbert behind her.
“Nope. Not at all.” Kristin managed, her voice still unusually high. It was enough for Michelle to raise her eyebrows.
“Um, I brought chips?” Chris said, closing the door behind him. “The, uh, snacky alternative to the Chinese and pizza—”
“Poor Chris can't eat chilli,” Eden said, patting him on the head.
Kristin straightened from looking through the bags. “Oh gosh! You could have got something you liked!”
“I have potato chips.”
“There are carrots in the fridge?”
“Rodent food,” Michelle dismissed. “So, Chenoweth. Are we eating out of the boxes?”
“Oh!” Now Kristin dashed to the kitchen again, muttering about having lost her mind and Elphaba felt strangely guilty. Perhaps Norbert and Chris did too, as they followed to help.
“Don't think I didn't notice the ungodly tension,” Michelle said with narrowed eyes. They then sprang open, and she straightened, demanding, “What did you do to her!” Michelle even pointed at Elphaba as if her tone wasn't accusatory enough. Elphaba suspected this was something she frequently did. Pointing and persecuting. All she could say, with a slight raising of her shoulders was, “Nothing.”
Michelle's offending arm dropped to her side and she squinted again. “Your nothing is probably different from my nothing...”
“Well, maybe... Eden's nothing,” she amended.
“Nemo or Showgirls first?” Norbert called having settled in front of the television, plate already filled and forgotten beside him.
“Not showgirls, you man-whore,” Michelle cackled. Then she stretched and accepted a plate Kristin handed her.
“Nemo,” Eden said, grimacing. She received one too, and Elphaba beside her.
“Showgirls,” Chris said, then amended, “Nemo,” when Michelle shot him a glare.
“That's fine by me,” Norbert said, already working the machines. “There can never be enough Nemo.”
Elphaba pitched herself forward, warily eyeing the disarray of takeout containers on the coffee table. The green slop looked no more or less appetizing the red slop... and she wasn't particularly fond of eating pizza with her hands at this time.
“This one's vegetarian,” Kristin said, pointing to one of the containers, though she looked at neither the container in question, nor at Elphaba.
Elphaba thanked her though she began feeling increasingly unsettled. The television, it seemed, with its bright colours and opening credits was far more interesting to Kristin. Or perhaps she was making a point.
She had thought enough to ensure Elphaba be dealt no meat, and yet here they were. An absence of connection as if they hardly knew each other. As if they hadn't spent weeks together already. As if Kristin hadn't already tried to kiss her. Twice.
“Thank you,” Elphaba eventually managed, and prodded the off-coloured sauce swamping the rice. She felt Eden's gaze though. As always.
“Oh! I love this part!” Kristin squealed, drawing Elphaba's attention again. Norbert hummed his approval while Michelle rolled her eyes. “It's only the beginning,” the woman said caustically.
Kristin shrugged. “But I like it.”
Norbert hummed again, and Elphaba finally tested the food. She found it was... rather pleasing.
Elphaba looked up curiously, swallowing. “Hm?”
“You're being suspiciously quiet.” Michelle raised an eyebrow and jerked her head to the television. “You're not obsessed with fish too, are you?”
Chris choked on his chips, then pardoned himself with a blush.
“Not particularly.” Under Michelle's continued stare, and Eden's renewed attention, Elphaba cleared her throat, contemplating that perhaps she was expected to explain. “I'm just thoughtful.” And still, Kristin would not look at her. The fish on the screen couldn't be nearly so engaging. Elphaba decided this was all a rather strange affair. She wondered if she was happy she was here witnessing all this damned tension, and with her very own confused part to play, no less.
Eden nudged her, whispering, “Is anything wrong?”
Michelle gave a twitch. Eden's question, though said quietly, was enough to goad Michelle into reprimanding them in how whispering was an evil thing. Especially in her company. And how they should feel ashamed and tell her, in full, the juicy details.
“I'm sorry,” Elphaba only apologized, feeling increasingly tired. Maddie even yawned.
But Michelle only blanched. “See?” she cried, “That's just wrong!” Chris looked uncomfortable, and she threw a cushion at him, before continuing on unmindful of his affronted expression. “How can you be sorry! Whispering. Whispering! It's not a sin!”
“But you said—”
“You never apologize to me! You tell me to go fuck myself! Or Eden!” Eden blushed, but Michelle continued. “It's weird, y'know?” She reached for one of the juice bottles. “Guys. Back me up.” She settled back, expecting a chorus, but it was only Chris that said anything. Albeit an almost unintelligible murmur on how very mean she was.
“Damn it,” she cried. “Where's the backbone! You, Dee, are still strange. Sure, you can sing and act, but you are freakish!”
“Michelle,” Eden said reproachfully. Still Kristin didn't look in their direction.
“Well, fuck, E.”
“What are you drinking?”
“Special juice. I told you.”
Kristin's television bound stare seemed to waver with a slight twitch. It peaked Elphaba's curiosity, as she realised she was staring at the woman. Again.
“Juice with vodka?” prodded Eden.
“Imported! But that's not the point!” Michelle pointed her fork at Elphaba, who blinked out of her daze. “You, green girlie, are strange!”
Of all the people to label her so; it was laughable. Maddie yapped once, and Elphaba bit back a scathing retort. Instead, she said, “Thank you,” then after a somewhat haughty sniff, she said it again, only with more words. “Thank you, Michelle. Now I can rest easily. Safe in the knowledge that you understand my true nature. How mighty of you. Well done.” She finished with a scowl, and continued to do so even when Kristin finally glanced at her and Michelle erupted into unsavoury laughter.
“And you call Dee nuts,” Eden drawled after having swallowed her mouthful.
Michelle shrugged, looking eternally tickled, then rummaged and brought out another little bottle of the juice. “Go ahead,” she said, “You've earned it. You spiny creature, you.”
Elphaba only stared her.
“It's nice…” Michelle explained, and tried to entice her by shaking the juice.
“Do you have to corrupt her?” Kristin murmured. Eyes still on the insufferable whiny fish that now had a blue forgetful friend.
“She was corrupted a long time ago. By you, no less.”
Chris shifted nervously. “This is going to come to blows...” He then got up and sat on the floor beside Norbert. “Want some chips?” he asked, noticing the man's untouched plate.
“I'm only being friendly,” Michelle said.
“As friendly as a Rhino with PMT.”
Elphaba found herself smiling and Maddie leant over and sniffed her plate.
Michelle thankfully decided to show some mercy in her abrupt judgement of Elphaba. Instead, she focused on her mysterious drinks (which, Elphaba noticed, no one else touched), leered at Eden, and teased Chris and Norbert alike. Norbert finally found time to eat but between every mouthful, was ten minutes of complete rapture at the screen. Even Michelle started watching it at one point, and laughed meanly when Nemo was sucked down the plughole of an oversized sink, while most others gasped and 'awwwed' at the fish's resourcefulness.
Elphaba continued to be uncaring of its struggle. She felt it primitive and naïve, how they tried to make this a sentient character – a Fish – but had it shackled by stupidity. Eden had said Nemo was 'cute', but to Elphaba stupidity had never been applaudable. Where were Nemo's worries beyond finding his father? He may have been young, and oddly resourceful, but this film grated on her. She decided to pay more attention to her plate and her thoughts, until Norbert whooped with glee then settled into a pleased coo. The film had ended with a sickeningly sugary ending. Elphaba scowled and thought that one of them should have died, or been unjustly persecuted. Some realism at least.
But then she remembered where she was. A place devoid of Animals. A blush of shame came to her face at her judgement of the children's film.
“Well, that's great,” Michelle said, leaning back and stroking her somewhat protruding stomach.
“Showgirls!” Norbert exclaimed, already reaching for the DVD case. His fingers didn't even touch the plastic when a cushion collided into his head, and Michelle cackled. He sighed, and sniffed. “Fine,” He said, glaring at her. “What do you want?” He hurled the cushion back to her, which she easily caught and smugly got comfortable. “I dunno,” she said.
“Which DVDs do you have, Kristin?” Eden asked, ever the voice of practicality.
“Old Broadway hi—”
“No no. No musicals,” Michelle moaned.
“Pretty Woman?” A round of shrugs, and Kristin motioned toward the small stack of DVDs by the back wall of the living room. Chris and Norbert clumsily crawled to it, heads bowed and already in dialogues about the film. But Elphaba's narrowed eyes were still on Kristin.
Eden cleared her throat. “Idina,” she said quietly. But Elphaba continued watching Kristin until Eden eventually poked her. Elphaba twitched. “What is it?” she demanded.
“What's going on? You're... staring at—”
“Ah, nothing.” Elphaba wrenched her eyes away. Confusion be damned. Scaring Kristin again was hardly a bright idea. “It's all fine.”
Eden nodded jerkily. “Yep. I'm sure. It's good, yeah.”
This time the film was of a more pleasing nature. It was entirely romantic trollop, and Elphaba hadn't a clue who the 'stars' were that Norbert was stating facts about, but it held her attention well enough. She had stopped staring at Kristin. A very conscious and deliberate effort. What had happened to her? The memories tugging at her since she entered this place. The ghosts of feelings.
Something had happened here, Elphaba was sure. Something to affect Kristin and Idina's friendship. Something to bring a blush to those cheeks...
Cheeks that looked good with a blush. Perhaps with a complimentary sheen of sweat as well—Elphaba jerked on the sofa, causing Eden to jump. “Are you okay?” the woman asked.
What was this?
By the time the film finished, Elphaba had worked herself into a particularly dark mood. Norbert’s hopeful question about it being time for Showgirls was enough to make her scowl.
Kristin cleared her throat, staring at the screen in a subdued fashion. “I'd rather not.”
“But...” Norbert began to whine. “But it's good! It's—”
Michelle cackled weakly. “No one loves you!”
“I kinda love you,” Chris urged.
Norbert began to pout. “I don't want your pity gayness!”
Elphaba glanced at Kristin.
“Aw,” Kristin deadpanned, then sat straighter when Michelle cast her a piercing look, as if trying to see into her soul. She even said it too.
“That's deep, Michelle,” Eden pointed out.
“There... is something... deep going on...” Michelle said vaguely. She then gulped down more of her special juice and actually burped.
“Don't get drunk.”
“I'm not drunk. This is 'special juice' anyway. Have you ever seen me drunk—that was rhetorical! Don't answer. But,” Michelle held up a finger to emphasize her point, “I am of utmost professional standards, my mangled chihuahua. I would never...”
“I am not drunk!”
The blonde suddenly gave a jolt having previously been deep in thought. “Yes?”
“Am I drunk?”
“Exactly. So there, chihuahua! Eat fish!”
Eden sighed and shook her head. “If you have a hangover on Dee's first day back...”
“Kristin will kill you. And so will I.”
Michelle nodded, turning toward the screen once more despite it looping on the Pretty Woman menu. “All is fair in love and war.” She then smiled to herself in such a way that Elphaba felt wholly suspicious. As did Eden.
Chris rubbed the back of his head then got to his feet. Elphaba looked up hopefully. “I have to—This has been fun! Really,” he said. “The tension—ow...?” Michelle had thrown a pillow at his head again. Despite her obvious inebriation, she still hit her mark and he briefly swayed on his feet. “Stop abusing me!”
“You wish, shortstuff.”
He pouted and glanced around at everyone's subdued faces. “Well I'm off. Big day tomorrow.” He smiled at Elphaba, and she returned it though it failed to reach her eyes. Kristin finally turned her way with an unreadable expression.
“So, uh... are you all staying? Or...” Chris shifted uncomfortably, not liking being the only one on his feet and while everyone stared at him. He probably had little shards of fried potato all over his rumpled clothes. He wanted to run away, but found he didn't have the spine to do it alone. His bottom lip threatened to tremble.
“Nah, I'll come with you,” Norbert said, and glared at Michelle. “Since she won't allow the girl love of Showgirls.”
“Do you want a... pillow to the... head too?” she slurred. “I could do it. I could.”
“If you can stand.” Norbert grinned and retrieved his DVDs. Eden stood up too, then Elphaba with a sigh.
“Oh, you're all going?” Kristin asked, blinking slowly.
“Yeah, Kristin. Thanks for tonight,” Eden said with a smile.
“Well, I was going to stay,” Michelle muttered. “But the mangled chihuahua has spoken.”
“Michelle...” Eden groaned.
“But you look lovely. Completely... edible.”
Jackets and bags were retrieved and they all gravitated toward the door. Elphaba was last, still quiet and still in a dark mood. Kristin stood up and hugged Chris, Norbert, Michelle and Eden goodbye. She paused at Elphaba just as Chris opened the door, and Elphaba averted her gaze to the coffee table laden with plates and rubbish. Guilt welled up, and she grimaced. “Would you like help clearing up?” she offered. Eden and Michelle had turned to face her, already through the threshold.
“Uh,” Kristin said.
“Not coming with?” Michelle said, grinning. Eden was smiling.
“Well, I—” Elphaba started, but was cut off by Kristin who shrugged, then nodded. Then said, “Sure. Thanks.”
After Michelle's heavy-handed pat on the back, the group left, leaving Elphaba standing in front of the closed door, and Kristin standing in front of her and finally making eye contact. But the woman looked haunted. “Are you alright?” Elphaba had to ask, her brows already furrowed.
After a short sigh, Kristin turned and stooped at the table, already retrieving plates. “Peachy,” she said.
Elphaba followed her and picked up empty containers, stuffing them into a plastic bag she'd found. “You've been tense all night.” She stood up with the filled bag and eyed Kristin's retreating form, then followed her into the kitchen. “Kristin.”
“Dee...” plates in the sink, Kristin twirled round, shaking her head. “We have an early start tomorrow okay?” She walked past, back into the living room, while Elphaba binned the rubbish. “I know,” Elphaba called, then returned to the living room too, picking up the last few containers. “That's why I'm helping.”
Kristin remained silent and went back to the kitchen, placing the rest of the plates in the sink. She just stared at them. Even when Elphaba was back, and divested herself of the last bag. Then Elphaba straightened, frowning at Kristin's back. She had enough on her mind without the woman's frostiness. It was extreme, and it angered Elphaba. She had bothered to offer her help, and Kristin had accepted, only to treat her like this. “Have I done something to upset you?” She saw Kristin lower her head, bracing her hands on the edge off the sink. Still the silence stretched on, and Elphaba's face contorted in anger. “Why ignore me like this!” She stepped closer, intent of physically turning Kristin, to force the woman to face the problem. Even if that problem was her. But before Elphaba even took another step, Kristin had turned again. Her eyes dark, and skin pale; a resolute expression. She still didn't say anything as she closed the distance, and reached a hand up to the back of Elphaba's neck, urging her forward. “What—?” Elphaba began, though was too stunned to offer resistance.
“I can't...” Kristin murmured, tears coming to her eyes though they were already too close for Elphaba to see them. “Not anymore.” A slight shift forward and Kristin's eyes closed, forcing the tear to fall. “Maybe it would be easier this way.”
And then Kristin was kissing her.
It was reminiscent of when another blonde had kissed her. Elphaba's heart thudded and her throat tightened. Her eyes blinked, confused as to whether to stay open or closed and give in to the kiss. But she couldn't do it. She felt wetness on her cheek and tried to pull back slightly, but Kristin still held her in place. “Mnnh...” she tried to say something, then wrenched herself away. Skin flushed. And she saw Kristin's already reddened eyes. Kristin had been crying as she kissed her.
Much like before, Elphaba, by reflex, took a step back. She murmured some apology, then fled.
Eden was the last to get into the taxi they had waited so long for. Michelle had just stumbled in before her, and dropped the unopened bottle she had been holding. The special juice. On retrieving it, Eden looked to the right, and saw a woman pretty much running from Kristin's apartment building and down the sidewalk away from them. Eden blinked. She could have sworn that was Idina.
“Hurry up!” Michelle moaned, “We spent long enough out there! The icicles on my nipples need to thaw, damn you!”
Chris choked, again, while Eden sighed. She hoped nothing bad had happened between Idina and Kristin. That could have been anyone from this distance. “Sorry.”
“You okay?” Norbert said as Eden settled beside Michelle.
She absently turned the bottle over in her hands.
“Mmm,” Michelle said, her eyes closing and a hand falling onto Eden's thigh. Eden twitched and frowned. She noticed a small section in English on the bottle, and squinted. Michelle began kneading her thigh, giggling quietly to herself.
Eden lurched forward in shock as the car began to move. “There's no alcohol in this!” she exclaimed.
Chris turned from the passenger seat at the front. “What?”
Norbert yawned, and Michelle giggled. “I know,” she drawled. “It's special juice. Imported from Europe. They have... the best fruits.”
Eden scowled and plucked Michelle's hand from her thigh. “God, you're just naturally this lecherous.”