Disclaimer: Gregory Maguire's. Not mine. Title comes from an album by The Weakerthans.
Left and Leaving
The streets are darker and slicker than he remembers when he's nothing more than a shadow against rows of buildings, passing Animals with their heads hung, tails tucked between their legs, and he feels a tug somewhere inside him he can't quite place. He knows this is Elphie's crusade, this is where she has chosen to make her home. He can't help but wonder if things would've turned out differently, and if so...how.
He misses her like fire and she's as cold to him as she was at school – like ice about to shatter and break into a thousand tiny places. His fingers drum against the tabletop absentmindedly as she stands at the stove. Everything about her screams exhaustion – he can feel it himself, the way her shoulders are hunched over the pot she stirs, the way the cat, white as a sleek ghost against the dark wood, slips between her angles and she barely flinches. He wants to stand and take her by the waist and kiss her roughly so she'll look at him. She never once looked at him, never from when he stepped in the door. If only he could see her eyes, he knows he could fix everything.
Elphaba knows better. She hasn't the foolhardy heart of the young man with the diamond skin. She knows that when the sun rises in the east and casts shadows on sparkling emeralds, she'll be gone, quicker than he can blink and wish for her. She casts a glance over her shoulder and sees the outline of Fiyero in the moonlight, and without warning she leaves the stove and walks over to him, her eyes never leaving him.
She can almost trace the diamonds accented by the edge of his eyes when he looks up in surprise and she's kissing him before he can fumble with words. He tries to stand, but he's breathless and she leaves him weak and he can't even see her in the darkness, she's just a ghost, a ghost of a ghost, lips burning against his and he wants to feel her, but he can't seem to keep his hands on her long enough to feel anything but the brush of air as she sweeps away from him as quickly as she came.
He watches from afar, as always.
"Trouble in paradise?" the Toad asks, glaring at Fiyero. The bar is dim enough so that no one notices the Animals, and the bartender doesn't make enough money to care. Fiyero can tell when he asks for vodka and finds a whole bottle in front of him.
He looks at the Toad out of the corner of his eye and mumbles, "What's that supposed to mean?" Outside the thunder rolls across the rooftops and the bar seemed both shelter and hideaway. It briefly reminded him of Elphie, and he pushed the thought out of his mind.
"I despise humans coming in here and drowning their problems in substance," the Toad spits. "What have you got to be unhappy about? Did your wife leave you? Lose all your money to the Wizard's latest campaign?" He laughs a cruel, throaty laugh as harsh as his scaled skin and Fiyero fights off a shudder, resisting the urge to move to the next seat down. He turns his head, but the Toad croaks down another chuckle and says, "Better go home and patch things up. It's getting pretty nasty out there." The Toad hacks and nearly spits into the puddle of beer he's been sipping with his tongue. Fiyero gets up in a hurry, trying to ignore the Toad's cackling laughter ringing throughout the bar chasing him, like nails on a chalkboard.
The raindrops are fat, splashing across his coat tugged over his head. He shakes the water out of his eyes and reaches the steps leading to Elphie's room above, a black mass against the sparkling sky. There is a blaze of lightning, and a crack like a tree being struck to the ground. Fiyero ducks and scurries up the steps, his frame teetering on the edge of the slick steps, and he nearly falls and breaks his neck before he reaches Elphie's door and is knocking like a madman.
Her face appears, twisted in annoyance. "What the devil do you think you're—"
Fiyero's eyes are wide under the coat, and Elphaba recoils as though struck when she sees him. She backs away quickly and ushers him inside. "What are you standing out there for, you idiot? Come inside. And…don't move."
He stands, a shivering huddle of coats and blankets Elphaba has tossed at him from a good four feet away, and she motions for him to move closer to the fire. He strips off his shirt, plastered to him so the diamonds are blurry imprints under the translucent silk. Elphaba sits on the edge of the bed, watching him, and he almost feels self-conscious, her eyes dark in the firelight and focused. He turns slightly away from her, so intent on tugging his shoes off that he doesn't even notice her stand up and walk toward him, not until he sees her jagged shadow dancing on the wall. He turns to face her, and he never noticed until now how long her eyelashes are. She reaches up and touches his face and she's trying not to wince at the sting of the rainwater, drops on his cheeks, dripping from his hair.
Fiyero turns his head away from her touch, and he can tell she's unsure of what to do, but he picks up the blanket from the ground to dry his face, his chest, and he slides out of his trousers with some difficulty that makes her bite her lip and grin, closing her eyes, stifling a laugh against his shoulder. He takes the opportunity to wrap the blanket around them both and pulls her tightly to him and she doesn't even resist; not at all.
She buries her head in his shoulder. Fiyero can barely breathe, he's so stricken, but with what, he can't say. It's a scene out of starlight, with the moon burning flesh for flesh and kneeling on the floor, the sun slowly setting. He's unbuttoning her dress and she tears out of it as though suffocated. Heartbeats are more and more difficult, but he grips her waist and kisses her neck and can't even care. She doesn't push him away, she doesn't whisper wordless cries into his ear, she moves with him. It's somehow feels like this is how it was meant to be – beneath the cover of darkness, there's only room for them. There's only moments for shadows, and Fiyero wants desperately to fade into the fabric of time itself, preserving them, to keep Elphaba and cage her and never let her be free.
He knows he'll lose her both ways.
There's fog on the windowpanes and he absentmindedly traces circles to see out of. Crosshatches, a square of the sky and a square of sidewalk. Elphaba is pouring over a stack of papers in the corner, barely enough light to see. He wants to tell her she's going to hurt her eyes, straining to read in the dark, but he knows better. She'll brandish her pen at him and give him her patented look, the one that whispers,You knew it would be like this, and still you insisted. Leave, then. Go and prove me right.
The cat sits at his feet, tail tucked around its legs neatly. It looks up at Fiyero as if to ask what he's still doing sitting here, and Fiyero halfheartedly waves it away, willing the questions out of his head, because he simply doesn't have the energy for guesswork anymore.
The next night Fiyero comes in and finds the bed a familiar cold, where dreams lay after he has long been away.
She turns, awake from the moment he stepped in the door and he knows she hasn't slept for nights on end, whether he's there or not. The moonlight casts a brush of shadow across her cheek and her eyes look darker, deeper, than he remembers. She won't look at him, or perhaps she simply can't bother to. He follows her gaze to the far corner, where several suitcases are piled atop each other. The flames burn low in the fireplace and he shivers, noticing for the first time since he entered that the room is, if possible, even barer than before.
His hurt grows with each emotion displayed on her face, so exceedingly honest he can barely stand it. Surprise, her eyes widen the slightest bit, and she covers it with pity, and it's Elphaba, so he shouldn't be convinced, but he is and tries to hate her for it.
He hisses and sinks to the floor, on his knees as though prayers will save the diamonds fading from his skin.
"I told you, Fiyero. If I remember correctly—"
"Don't do that," he whispers. Her face changes, and he sees in the shadows of her eyes that she recognizes him for the first time, and too late.
She sits up, the sheets sliding off her bare shoulders. "You knew this would happen. Don't give me so much credit, Master Fiyero." Her voice is softer than he expected, and he realizes she wants to make this easier on him. It infuriates him to the point of exhaustion.
"You should have just left," he says harshly, and upon looking up to gauge her reaction, he sees she agrees with him.
She leaves swiftly in the morning. He can't even touch her, so she kisses his cheek fiercely and leans her forehead against his. He feels the brush of her eyelashes against his skin and then the door has shut quietly and he is alone in the apartment, save the small figure of the cat sitting on the windowsill watching black swirl into the crowd of gray below.
Feedback/constructive crit/cookies and puppies/etc. are welcome! Thanks for reading!