A/N: I am a terrible person and I apologize a million and three times for being so stupid and waiting so long to post this. I'm so sorry, guys! So unbelievably sorry you have no idea (begs forgiveness) please don't throw things at meeee... (meep)! You know I luv you guys for putting up with me, right? So much drama...(le sigh) first there was that nasty little complication with the six-month ban from the computer as a horrendous punishment for a not-so-horrendous offense (the powers that be are hell-bent against my owning the Avenue Q CD). Then there was the issue of the malfunctioning floppy disk, causing me to need to retype the four pages I'd written about five separate times (stupid school computers! They're like 20 years old, I kid you not). Then the powers that be gave me a laptop for Christmas, only to tell me after I'd typed the entire chapter (again) on the lovely littlerectangular boxy-thing of technological goodness that Iwasn't allowed to hook it up to the internet. The powers that be insist on watching my every virtual move and poking their noses into my internet files to "supervise" me, and they can't do thatif I have internet on the laptop. Whatever. I'm surviving. It's not really all that huge of a deal, but the fact that I retyped it all over again for no apparrent (did I spell that right?) reason got on my nerves, especially since as of yet I haven't figured out how to fix the settings on the laptop so I can save documents to CDs...I'm technologically challenged,to say the very least. But I digress. Back to the matter at hand; I throw myself on your mercy! Please don't hate me! Pretty please with whipped cream and hot fudge and sprinkles and cherries and M&Ms and gummy bears and every other possible delicious sundae topping that exists? Please? (puppy eyes)


Chapter 45

After a while the silence became too much to just sit there and suffocate in, and, obviously, Liir realized this. He got up, relieving himself of my presence, and retreated to Dorothy's room where she had withdrawn with the monkey. I heard her ask before Liir shut the door, "Well? What did she say to you?" I wondered if the boy had heard a solitary syllable of anything I'd just said.

I sank back into the dilapidated couch, bringing a hand up to massage my temples; the headache coming on was going to be merciless. Eyes closed, I tried to let the self-imposed tension melt away, but the harder I tried to force relaxation on myself, the more I found my back and shoulders knotting up. Not to mention the fact that having a pair of twins writhing inside me wasn't helping things much. There went the whole "de-stress" approach.

The next thing I knew, I felt a hand in my hair and the cushion beside me cave in on itself. "Stop it, you're making things worse." Fiyero murmured. I let my head fall back into his palm as his fingers worked themselves through my hair. It was somewhat soothing, but still trying to ward off the oncoming migraine, I wouldn't disengage my hand from my temples. He wrapped his fingers around my wrist and tried to prize my hand away from my face. After some brief resistance on my part, I gave in. Once my head had been liberated, he resumes stroking my hair, but kept his other hand secured around my wrist.

"It went that badly?"

"I don't know."

"How could you not know? Weren't you there?"

"I rolled my eyes. "He's…difficult, to put it very mildly."

"In other words, he's exactly like you."

He had no idea how right he was. Apparently, he'd picked up on that a lot faster than I had. Being as used to loathing the boy as I was, I'd become blind to the resemblance I didn't want to see, until I had no choice anymore. Fiyero wouldn't meet my eyes, only turned over my hand and began to rub his thumb over my palm.

"That could be right," I said, not wanting to directly admit to him that it was. But, letting go of the fleeting inhibition, I sighed. What did I have to hide anymore? "I guess it is." When he neither replied nor looked me in the face, I lapsed momentarily into thought, and then went on.

"I've been wondering if that's not the reason I could never bring myself to call him mine."

"It's not your fault. You don't hate the boy or yourself enough for that to be why."

"If you'd put that past me, you must not know me very well, love."

He squeezed my hand. "I think I know you well enough to say that you have more heart than anyone I've ever met - " I gave him a look.

"Elphaba, give it up. You know I'm right anyway." He smiled, and I returned it. "And I'm willing to bet that your reluctance to claim the boy had more to do with shame than with hate." I stared blankly at him, thinking it over, letting it sink in. When I said nothing, he continued trying to get my mind off of what he knew I'd rather not dwell upon anymore. "Look, whatever the reason was, there's nothing we can do about it now. Let it go, move forward, and accept that you're not immune to mistakes."

"That's a little too big to be called a 'mistake', Fiyero."

"Whatever. There's no way you could've be able to do anything about it now that would make Liir understand you. He's stubborn like that; it's not hard to tell. Remind you of anyone, Elphaba?"

"You're not funny."

"Alright, I'm sorry. So shoot me. But in all seriousness, I think if he's set himself on believing that there's not a shred of good in your body, so be it. He needs time to consider things, consider who you've become. There was once a time you thought people couldn't change, wasn't there?"

I nodded. Unfortunately, there had been. I was young then, not yet old enough to go to Shiz, but not so young I couldn't understand human nature. Around fifteen, I guess; near Liir's age now. I was still hopeful, naïve, and stupid, knowing I wasn't wanted but still believing I could change that. Then I realized they're all the same, never going to bend their world to suit you. It had hit me a day or so after my mother had died, supposedly of internal bleeding after giving birth to my younger brother. After her burial, I'd tried to help Nessa get to her feet, but she'd twisted away from me, tears and hate in her eyes. She'd railed at me, shouting how everything leading up to our mother's death had been my fault. I'd caused Nessa's deformity; I'd made our father paranoid that any other children of his would end up like me. I'd made our father force Melena to try different drugs to keep her from turning out a child as deformed as her first two. If it weren't for me and my "problem", our mother would never have taken that last drug, the one that made her bleed inside and die. Everything was my fault.

No one had ever hurt me more. Nessa had been the one person who'd accepted me for what I was, and now she was hurling words like knives at me. I'd always known how disliked I was by others, but to hear it from my own twelve-year-old sister had been too much. I'd gotten up and ran, reaching home long before my family. When they finally did arrive my father had shouted at me, how could I leave Nessarose like that when she was already so upset, how could I be so selfish. It made me laugh, his calling me selfish, and it'd gotten me in even more trouble for doing so. He'd always been so deliriously clueless, my father. I'd been my sister's keeper since her birth; that job left no room for the self. And he'd had no idea at all. He only loved his "pet", his little invalid, his Nessa. The only function I served was that of the nursemaid.

I shook my head to rid it of the memory. Hadn't Fiyero just said that there was no use in brooding over past things? :Let it go and move on, Elphaba. Self-pity will get you nowhere.:

"Hey," Fiyero looked at me with warm concern in his eyes. "You okay?"

"Yes…yes, I'm fine," I replied, feigning a smile and reaching up to press a kiss to the hinge of his jaw. He turned his head to rub his cheek against mine, and as he did so the telltale click of a turning doorknob rang out. The two of us sprang apart, feeling very much like amorous teenagers getting caught by an angry parent.

"Come back here with that, you little - ! Oh! I'm so sorry, I…" Dorothy stammered, halting in her pursuit of Chistery. The monkey happened to be absconding with none other than my Grimmerie.

I ignored the girl for a moment, casting a quick spell on the furry thief to stop him in his mischievous tracks. His top half lurched forward and then snapped back again, rooted to the spot. For a few seconds Chistery tried to continue running, then realized he couldn't and started examining his immobilized feet. Once the poor thing wizened up to what I'd done, he gave me a death glare.

"That's not fair!" he pouted. Dorothy and Fiyero both tried to suppress laughter.

"All's fair in love and war, little friend. And, being as you've taken a hostage, this means war." I plucked my spellbook out his paws and dusted off the cover. It was beyond me how a tiny little monkey like that managed to outrun Dorothy with my huge, obnoxious book in his arms, but apparently he'd managed. "Hostage recaptured. I win."

"That was an awfully short war." Fiyero quipped, reaching down to scratch the monkey's head. Chistery batted his hands away and folded his arms.

"Don't touch me! You're on her side!"

"What makes you think that?" Fiyero retorted, trying to make a convincing innocent face.

"You laughed!" the monkey huffed, and then turned back to me. "Lemme go!"

With a barely concealed smirk stealing across my face, I lifted the spell from the poor troublemaker. He stuck his tongue out at me before slinking back to Dorothy.

"She doesn't play fair." Chistery whined, pointing at me.

"Well, you hardly play fair yourself, you great annoying furry thing." Dorothy replied. "She didn't do anything to you, and you up and ran off with her book." She offered a quick smile to Fiyero and myself before turning her full attention back to us and began apologizing all over again.

"Oh, stop it," I cut into her repentant monologue, "You've nothing to be sorry for. You were hardly interrupting anything important."

"We're the intruders. We should be apologizing to you for taking up space for this long." Fiyero added. He knew I wanted out of here about as much as Liir would've liked to throw me out.

"No, no, that's no trouble. But really, I've hardly made up for…for what I did to you…"

"You've more than made up for it." I said, not really wanting to venture in that particular direction. "And besides, I'm alive, aren't I? It's over and done with, can't be changed, so you might as well let it go. I don't really give a damn anymore about what you've done. You saved my life, you saved his life, and that's worth more than the world to me." With that bluntly stated, the subject was dismissed.

Dorothy stood there for a minute or two, blushing furiously in the uncomfortable silence. "I, um, I should probably go now, uh, I have to get some things, so…" she trailed off and ducked out of the room, embarrassed to have been caught chasing Chistery like a child chases a pet. Chistery, on the other hand, seemed to have disregarded all hard feelings toward my cheating self and clambered up to sit on Fiyero. His small hands tugged at my sleeve, and I smoothed back the fur on his head to acknowledge him.

"What's wrong, little nuisance?"

"You never talk to me anymore. It's either the stupid babies or you're tired or you're mad at something."

My eyes lost a little of their smile. "I know I haven't been very friendly, and I'm sorry. I've had a lot on my mind. But I promise I'll never forget about you. How could I, with you running around like crazy with my things?" I said, trying to let laughter seep into my voice. The monkey grinned and grabbed my wrist, squeezing it as hard as he could. I scratched between his wings, my mood lifting a little.

"Now I'm hungry."

"Why am I not surprised?" laughing dryly. I pushed myself up as Chistery scampered ahead, expecting me to follow him into the kitchen. I had to admit, possibly the most frustrating thing about being so many months pregnant with twins was that even getting to my feet on my own had become difficult. I loathed with a fiery passion the loss of my self-sufficiency. Chistery kept looking backward over his shoulder and dancing from paw to paw, making sure I was following. "I'm coming, you. Ever heard of the art of subtlety?" I pretended to grouse.

Just as I'd gone to reach for the kitchen door handle, an excruciating burst of pain flared in my spine, blossoming out to spread up my back and settle there. Vaguely I saw Liir's door swinging away from me from the impact; so I'd been hit with it as he was leaving his room. His face went pallid from horrified shock, and that was the last thing I saw clearly before tears sprang into my eyes, clouding my vision. Tendrils of pain seeped into my stomach, and before I could even fully register what was happening they lanced like lightning through to my core.

I could practically feel all the blood drain from me. The tears continued to well up as the lightning in my stomach grew fiercer, driving me to my knees. It hurt…everything hurt…! Somewhere deep inside,my gut instinct told meI was going to lose the babies.

:No, no! Don't take them from me, not after all this! I've come too far to let them die now, please…:

I barely felt the streaks of liquid fire running down my face as I struggled to breathe. I held my stomach as if it could keep the lives inside me from escaping. Gasps like sobs made my entire body shake, and hazily through the hideous sounds I was making I heard a rough, cracked voice drawing nearer. Old papery skin smoothed over my forehead before I felt no more.

Okay, NOW it's almost over, I promise! Cross my little black heart lol
Please forgive me!