A Lazy Afternoon
Author's Note: To answer questions asked: The show I am working on is a new musical called River's End. It's a very interesting show. I really like it. Working on an evolving script is one of the coolest stage management experiences I've ever had. This chapter has taken me a few days to write. Spurts of furious writing, then hours of pondering the exact best way to put things. I've known for some time where in the book universe this was going to end, but not how I was going to get it there. I decided that 25 chapters was a good point. A little about this chapter…its not fluff. There was no way to tie fluff back into the book and maintain any relevance.
Elphaba sat with her legs tucked under the blanket. She had yanked the folder out from under the mattress, and was now reading as much as she could. Sleep remained elusive, so she decided not to bother trying. Fiyero lay curled against her, an iota of comfort in an otherwise uneasy morning. A bleak light peeked through the window. It was dismal and grey outside, the sky bearing no indication of time's progression. Hopefully, the rain would hold off.
She was getting a little stir crazy, so she slid off the bed. The floor was ice cold, and she gasped as she danced over to the table on the opposite side. The pocket watch read 5:30. It had only been an hour and a half. Elphie tiptoed back to the bed, and began packing up all the research she had scattered. She needed to find more material. Fiyero stirred, and watched her silently. She did not notice him. Unbuttoning the shirt, she tucked the folder inside, and pulled the rope belt from her hair, using it to bind the folder against her stomach. She refastened the shirt, and leaned over to put on her boots. She walked over to the window, and quickly backed away. Grommetik stood out in the courtyard, leering up at the room. She shivered, and peered out again. It was gone. She scurried over to the door, and opened it as quietly as possible.
Fiyero quickly jumped out of bed, and followed. Pajamas or not, he was leaving now. The granite floor stung his barefeet, but they'd been through worse in the Vinkus. And besides, he was nimbler and quieter sans shoes.
Once outside, she took off for Crage Hall. What was she doing. She bounded up the back stairwell, two at a time, to the third floor, and he stood at the base until she was clear, then sprinted up them, staying a landing behind her all the while. She paused in the hallway, outside a door bearing a plaque that Fiyero could not read from his distant position. She pressed her ear against the door. Nothing. She tried the knob. It was locked. She hunted through her bag for something to use to pick it, but found nothing. She leaned back against the wall, and slid to sitting.
Fiyero glanced around the stairwell. It was rather untidy, and there was a plethora of little sticks. He picked one up.
"Try this," he suggested, stepping out from the stairwell, bearing the stick. "I found it out here."
"How did you know where I was?"
"I followed you."
She gave him an uncertain look; a mix of disbelief and fear, and stood back up. "You shouldn't have."
"You just took off without a word."
"I have things I need to do."
Fiyero stared at the nameplate on the door. "In Madame Morrible's office?"
"There are things I want to look up. She's got connections that…"
"Elphie…if you get caught in this office…"
"I won't get caught…"
"Elphaba! You know Grommetik was around outside."
"It didn't follow me."
"I did, and you didn't notice me."
"You're probably going to draw more attention. Hell, Grommetik was gone before I got outside. I could only see it out the windows."
Fiyero leaned back against the wall.
"Give me the stick."
Fiyero didn't move.
"Give it to me!"
He held the hand
with the stick from her. She fumed.
"What is it that you're expecting to find in there?"
"Anything I can. Corruption. Proof that the Wizard is making up the documentation that is the basis for the Banns…the so called research…the…"
"Elphaba! You can't take this on on your own!"
"It's one person versus an entire government, corrupt or not."
"So does that mean that no one should ever challenge authority? The status quo is always okay? What kind of ruler are you going to be?"
"That's not what I'm saying…"
"What are you saying?"
"Elphaba…Elphie, I'm just saying be careful. If its that corrupt, its dangerous."
"I can take care of myself."
"What are you planning to do if you find something?"
She glared at him. "I'm working on that."
"If you're caught, you won't have time to."
"We'll see what I find."
"It doesn't sound like you've thought this out well enough to be trying this."
"Is that what you've always thought of my work?"
"That I'm impetuous and strong willed."
"Didn't we just have this argument the other day? That I'm stubborn?"
"Will you calm down?"
He grabbed her arms that were wildly gesticulating. She fought against him. He took a deep breath, and continued.
"Elphaba, I believe in your work. I believe in you. I'm just worried that frantically searching for something, so near to morning, is going to cause you more trouble than its worth." He released her hands. "Do you understand?"
Elphaba turned from him and leaned against the wall.
"I need to see what I can find. I need to."
She turned back to face him. Her face was lit up with fervor. She was so beautiful when she got like this. He took her hand, and pressed the small stick into it.
"I still don't think this is a good idea, but you're so commited to it."
"Thank you. Now please go. I've drawn you into question enough lately."
"I want to stay."
"No. You need to go. Fiyero, I can't draw you into this. It's not your cause."
"You're my ca…"
"No, I'm not. You care. I know that. But I care about you too much to make you part of this. You have a wife to go back to. A tribe."
"Do it when you've thought it out more…" his voice faltered. "Don't…don't pull away."
"I have to."
She stepped up close to him, and he threw his arms around her, tightly. He mashed his lips against hers, startling himself with the urgency. She pulled back a bit, then gently kissed him once on the lips.
He sighed, and wiped his eyes, then turned and walked back to the stairway. Elphaba watched him go, blinking furiously to prevent her watering eyes from leaking down her face. She swallowed, then turned her attention to the doorknob. She jammed the little stick into the whole and the lock popped. She pushed the door open and peered it. The room was empty. She began to look through the papers on the desk. There were some official memos, these would be interesting.
From the shadows in the corner of the room, Grommetik emerged. "Spying?" the tinny voice cackled.
Elpahba screamed, grabbed a fistful of whatever she could, and reeled around, charging out the door. How could she have not realized Grommetik could have come here ahead of her.
"Target has left. End transmission."
Elphaba ran down the stairs three at a time, shoving the stolen papers into her bag. She burst out of the door into the courtyard, scanning for Fiyero. He was gone. It was probably better that way. She needed to do this on her own. But what exactly "this" was, she didn't know.
courtyard, Madame Morrible stood talking to Glinda, who seemed upset.
Grommetik emerged from the main entrance and
took its place beside Madame Morrible. It could talk. The goddamn machine could talk. It was probably magicked
to do so. Elphaba
hesitated where she was, but Glinda spotted her.
"Elphie, come here! Oh, Elphie!"
Elphaba trudged over. Glinda threw her arms around Elphaba's waist and lay her head on her shoulder.
"Oh, Elphie. Madame Morrible just told me that Ama Clutch is dying. They don't think she going to make it though the night."
Elphaba wrapped her arms around Glinda.
"It is unfortunate, my dear," Madame Morrible began, "the way these events have transpired." She smiled viciously at Elphaba. "Glinda, darling, why don't I take you to see Ama Clutch now, and Elphaba here can inform your friends so that they might come pay their respects."
Glinda nodded, and pulled away from Elphaba.
"You'll do that, right Elphie? Find everyone?"
Elphaba nodded, and watched the trio disappear. The reality of the situation had begun to set sink in. Morrible had been orchestrating the whole Ama Clutch situation all along, from Dr. Dillamond's death on. And if Grommetik was capable of speech, then anytime it was spotted around, Madame Morrible would have known what was going on. The thought made Elpahba nauseous and she sunk to the ground, resting her head between her knees.
Madame Morrible was not going to get away with this. She had to find some way to make her pay for it. It was all part of what she believed in. She knew at the moment, looking back, seeing Ozma Towers, that her destiny was not one of love and fun, but rather hard work, and fighting for a cause. She wondered if Fiyero could see her sitting where she was, and what he was thinking.
She took a deep breath. She couldn't think about that now. There was work to be done, corruption to uncover, research to prove, and that would be her life's journey. And she would die trying if that's what it came to.