"Haven't you found what you're looking for yet?" Glinda asked, agitated. She had been keeping a grip on the small stepladder for what felt like ages while Elphaba rummaged through the ancient books on the top shelf, every so often sending a cloud of dust shooting downward onto her hair. Glinda was convinced she was doing it on purpose, since the musty filth only rained down when she opened her mouth to complain. She shifted her weight from foot to foot impatiently and stared upward, squinting for fear of more dust plunging toward her eyeballs. "Please hurry," she fussed quietly, looking around the library.
Elphaba grunted in response, and shifted more towering stacks of books around on the shelf. Glinda dodged another downslaught and glared upward. She hadn't particularly wanted to help in the first place, but Elphaba had grabbed her arm and began climbing the stepladder before she could protest. Glinda presently watched with wary eyes as the books seemed to teeter on the edge, and tapped her foot as Elphaba reached for yet another volume to skim.
She could hear the giggles to her side. She had been trying to ignore them and gaze anywhere but in the direction they were originating from. She sighed pointedly again and cocked her head to the side, pretending to read the spine of the book in front of her, and let her eyes drift in the direction of the study tables.
There they were. Exactly where she dreaded they would be. Glinda quickly stared again at the shelf in front of her, her grip on the stepladder tightening with indignation.
Why they were intent on making her life miserable, Glinda had no idea. She had done her best to avoid them since classes had resumed, and had done a fine job up to that point, being as polite as possible while at the same time making it a silent assertion that she didn't care for their company anymore.
What pained her was that Shenshen and Pfannee didn't seem to mind. They seemed to revel in Glinda's sudden solitude.
That was what bothered Glinda most of all. Not the fact that she wasn't friends with her friends anymore. But that her friends didn't care that she wasn't friends with them anymore. They seemed to enjoy not being friends with her very much indeed.
But at that moment, she didn't care. While Elphaba searched endlessly for books, books, books, and Shenshen sniggered just loud enough to be heard, Glinda didn't care. Animosity bubbled through her nerves, making her skin bristle.
She raised her eyes. Elphaba was tucking a stray hair behind her ear, running a finger across the page as she read.
Glinda pursed her lips and released her grip on the ladder. "You're on your own," she informed Elphaba, who didn't make any indication that Glinda had spoken until she had already turned away from the towering shelf, at which point Glinda could hear the rickety old stepladder begin to rock and tremble raucously. She wheeled back around in horror, certain she would see Elphaba falling to her death, but Elphaba had a firm grip on the top shelf and was using her feet to rattle the ladder erratically.
"You're an ass," she hissed irately. Elphaba snorted and went back to her books.
Glinda shot daggers in her direction, even though Elphaba was already immersed again in text. Glinda turned pointedly and headed in the direction of the table she had claimed with her satchel earlier.
But in her sudden anger she had forgotten that the table was now occupied by another group, who had cozied up to her belongings and were now leering in her direction.
She suppressed a scowl. Some sort of challenge had obviously been set. Glinda strode toward the table, replacing her cross look with cool indifference. But as the table loomed before her and Shenshen and Pfannee's glib faces grew closer and more menacing, Glinda knew what she had to do: She would sit down like a lady. On such short notice, it was the best idea she could come up with. She wouldn't flee like a child. After all, fear wasn't the issue. Who in their right mind would be afraid of a Bitch and a Munchkin?
"Hello, Miss Milla," Glinda said shortly. The third girl looked up from her essay and smiled, somewhat nervously. Shenshen continued to chortle as Glinda pulled out a chair and sat down, reaching for her satchel and fumbling with the clasps. Pfannee glanced from one girl to the other, biting her lip in barely-concealed glee.
"Well, Miss Milla," Glinda continued. "I'm glad some of us find our schoolwork so amusing," she mused, keeping her voice steady as she opened a book littered with pageholders.
Shenshen murmured quietly, elbows on the table and her hands clasped under her chin, "But Miss Glinda, there are more amusing things than schoolwork."
Glinda didn't bother to look up. "Oh? Something more amusing than your pitiful marks? I wouldn't have dreamed." She turned several pages, pretending to read the words.
"Marks," Shenshen scoffed, waving her hand. "We were just discussing you and Miss Elphaba."
"Oh?" Glinda asked, feeling her cheeks flush slightly.
"Yes," Pfannee answered. "We think it's fabulous that you two have grown so wonderfully close. It's rather fitting, isn't it?" She looked to Shenshen, who nodded in agreement.
"Aren't you pleased that you've become such good friends, Miss Glinda?" Shenshen continued. "Isn't it just wonderful? Isn't it downright marvelous?"
Glinda glared over her book, regarding Shenshen coldly. She finally muttered a sarcastic "whoopee" in retort, returning her eyes to her book and turning yet another page.
Pfannee continued in earnest. "It's just that Miss Elphaba seems to enjoy your company so much. And you're such a good friend to look out for her safety on that dangerous old ladder. Even though she seems quite capable of keeping it steady on her own."
All four girls turned their heads to the bookcase where Elphaba stood on the stepladder, looking firmly stable. Pfannee and Shenshen nudged each other knowingly, while Milla fidgeted uncomfortably. And as Glinda turned back to the table, finished with the notion of feeding them any more verbal bait, about stepladders or otherwise, she set her face with a frosty expression and waited for them to make their point. Certainly one of them would get to the gist of things sooner or later.
"Well, in any case," Pfannee corrected herself. "Even if she didn't exactly need your help, she certainly looked as if she were enjoying the view."
Pfannee and Shenshen's eyes traveled slowly down Glinda's face, and then down past her neck. Glinda suddenly gathered their meaning, and couldn't help looking down herself. "Of course," Shenshen began, "being as Elphaba has nothing to look at herself, obviously, it's understandable that she would want every opportunity to observe something she'll never possess."
Glinda was still scrutinizing her chest and not paying anyone else much mind. She wasn't showing that much cleavage, was she? It used to be one of her more conservative blouses, but she blamed her sudden bosom on nervous eating. She pulled at the fabric in distraction as Shenshen spoke up. "But then again, Miss Pfannee, Elphaba didn't seem to be sneaking a peek out of curiosity. She seemed to absolutely revel in every opportunity to take a glimpse."
"Shenshen..." Milla whispered with difficulty, her cheeks becoming pink. But Shenshen and Pfannee had leaned their heads together and were laughing freely, while Glinda sat up a little straighter, shock and adrenaline traveling fast throughout her body. She shot a sudden uneasy look in Elphaba's direction. The girl was no longer paying attention to the volumes of books, but was gazing toward the study tables, solemnly trying to see what was going on.
"Miss Elphaba," Glinda began, clenching her teeth and turning back to Shenshen and Pfannee, "does not. Like. Girls," she finished, rearing a foot back and giving a furious kick to the first shin she could find.
Shenshen inhaled in pain and tightened her fists. "Well, she certainly likes looking down your blouse."
"At least I have something worth looking at," Glinda spoke angrily, her temper flaring.
"And someone was definitely looking," Pfannee smirked.
Glinda stared fiercely from one to the other. "You two sure have noticed an awful lot about Elphaba looking at me. Which makes you both sound as if you're not so much disgusted as you are..." she searched for the right word but instead came up with, "jealous."
This seemed to amuse Pfannee and Shenshen to no end. "I know Miss Elphaba has the body of a boy," laughed Shenshen. "But she's not exactly the kind of person I want pining over me."
"Luckily you don't have to worry about anyone pining over you, much less Miss Elphaba," was Glinda's retort.
"You're one to talk," Pfannee interjected. "The only people pining over you are a silly little dolt of a boy, and a plain, unfashionable girl who happens to fancy another plain, unfashionable girl," she finished, hoping to strike a nerve.
Which she did, as Glinda gritted her teeth and slammed her book shut, just in time to see Elphaba approach the table from behind Pfannee and Shenshen, a thick stack of books cradled in her arms which she kept steady with her chin. But as she strode closer and the books began to wobble, she pitched them forward onto the table between the two girls, extracting a shriek of surprise from Pfannee while Shenshen glared over her shoulder at the green girl.
"Why, Miss Elphaba," she drawled. "What an unpleasant surprise. We were just discussing your fascination with breasts and your apparent lack of them." She stared boldly at Elphaba, who remained unphased.
"Charming subject," she mused absentmindedly, leaning over the two girls to sort through her scattered books. "We are in a library full of girls, after all. Why bother studying when there are breasts to be discussed?"
Shenshen exchanged an uneasy look with Pfannee. Glinda cringed, while Milla looked on with the faintest hint of interest in her eyes.
"So, is it my turn to expound on the topic of breasts?" Elphaba asked, pausing and giving herself a moment to observe the two girls seated on either side. "Shenshen... lopsided. Pfannee..." she pondered momentarily, a finger to her chin as she looked down at the covered chest of the small girl. "Malformed. With nipples the size of Quadling butter biscuits, I'm guessing."
Pfannee and Shenshen's faces reddened considerably as they looked at each other in utter shock. Milla was now the one attempting to stifle a fit of giggles.
"What?" Milla asked innocently as Pfannee glowered at her. "You both use every opportunity to compare yours to everyone else's," Milla explained meekly. "Miss Elphaba was just giving us a new... honest opinion."
Shenshen shoved her seat back and stood up, clearly furious. Pfannee hopped down from her chair and grabbed her bag and stalked toward the exit, Shenshen quickly following suit.
Elphaba took a seat in Shenshen's unoccupied chair as Glinda watched in stunned silence.
"Spectacular display, Miss Elphaba," Milla exclaimed quietly. "I've never seen anyone clear them off so quickly. And," she added in a low voice, "it was an accurate opinion at that. I'd almost think that you'd seen them without their clothes on."
Elphaba shrugged, expressionless, and Glinda watched her for a good long while, her jaw slightly slack. But Elphaba would not meet her eye the rest of the afternoon.