A/N: It's been a while (sorry about that), but here is the finished version of my story. Thanks to all my reviewers (y'all rock), and I hope you enjoy this.
For Sar--look, I can finish things. ;)
Glinda shrugged and pulled her knees up underneath her chin. "I don't know. Anything. Everything. I hardly know anything about you, Elphie. Tell me about your childhood, your family, whatever."
Elphaba sighed. "Perhaps we should start with something else. We could talk about my favorite book, or classes—" she trailed off as Glinda fixed her with a stern gaze. Elphaba pushed herself up straighter, crossing her legs at the ankles and staring down at her clasped hands. She took a deep breath. "All right, then. Family it is. Well, my father was a preacher, and my mother was a slattern. Not exactly what one would call a perfect match, as evidenced by the offspring their union produced. A green girl and a disabled child."
Elphaba stopped there, and Glinda resisted the urge to question her more closely on the subject. Elphaba had described both of her parents in the same flat tone with no inflection. There was no more reverence in her tone for the preacher than there was condemnation for the slattern. In fact, Glinda thought as she turned her head and laid her cheek on her knees, Elphaba talked about her parents as if she'd never met them, only heard of them in some second-hand account. Glinda stared at Elphaba's profile, but the silent girl refused to acknowledge her. "What about your childhood, then?" she prompted after a few quiet minutes.
Elphaba started. "My childhood?" She laughed sharply, a sound that startled Glinda and made her at once want to pull away from and draw closer to the hunched-over figure. "I don't think you want to hear about my childhood, my pretty," she said finally, looking up and making eye contact with the blonde. "In fact, I'm not even sure I had one. Or at least, one that you, with your frills and your frippery, would recognize as a childhood," Elphaba added. She softened her words with a small smile and reached up to brush back one of the curls that had fallen from its precarious perch atop Glinda's head.
"Try me," Glinda said softly.
Elphaba let her hand drop back into her lap. She was silent for several moments, staring at her twisting fingers before she spoke. "There are some things in this world that no child should ever have to know, and you, my dear Glinda, are still very much a child. An innocent, I should say."
"Oh, Elphie," Glinda whispered, tears in her eyes, "was it horrible?"
Elphaba looked at her and smiled wryly. "It wasn't as bad as all that, though I think perhaps you'll find that our definitions of the word 'horrible' differ greatly. For you, a horrible day is one in which you go outside and find you've put on two different shoes."
Glinda blushed as she remembered standing out in the courtyard in her mismatched footwear. "That only happened the one time," she said defensively, shifting slightly closer to the brunette. "After that I made sure to separate my navy and black shoes."
"Yes, well, that would have been a rather good day for me. It would have been nice to have people stare at my clothing rather than my skin."
"But you have beautiful skin," Glinda said, reaching out and absently running a finger down Elphaba's upper arm.
"Don't do that," Elphaba warned in a not-so-steady voice as she shifted away from the blonde.
"Do what?" Glinda asked, scooting closer and resting her tiny hand on top of a dark green one.
"Touch me," Elphaba said, pulling away and standing quickly. She crossed to her bed and blew out the lamp, leaving only the small fire in the hearth to light the room. She climbed into her bed and pulled her covers up to her chin. "Good night, Miss Glinda."
Glinda frowned at her roommate, then got up and went and perched on the edge of Elphaba's bed. She reached out to stroke a dark lock of hair, but thought better of it. "I didn't realize we were being so formal now," she said instead, hoping to get a rise from the apparently slumbering girl. Elphaba didn't respond. Glinda reached out and shook Elphaba's shoulder firmly. "I know you're not asleep," she said as she kept up the shaking motions, throwing in a pinch for good measure.
Elphaba slitted her eyes open, and Glinda was reminded, for a moment, of the striped kitten she'd gotten as a pet when she was younger. The cat's eyes had glowed in the dark, much like Elphaba's were now that she was looking at her. "Can I help you, Miss Glinda?"
"Well, I don't know, Miss Elphaba. I thought you might tell me why you left our conversation so abruptly. And why you felt the need to address me as a mere acquaintance."
Elphaba glared out at her from under her blankets, and Glinda shivered. Not a cat, she thought as she stared into Elphaba's eyes. A lioness. Then Elphaba blinked, and pulled herself upright with a sigh. "I'm sorry, Glinda," she said, toying with a frayed end of her blanket. "I tend to fall back on formal courtesies when I find myself in—uneasy situations."
Glinda nodded. "Apology accepted," she said as she pushed herself back onto the bed until only her feet dangled off the edge. She looked over at Elphaba, who still refused to meet her eyes. "Why did you say that other thing?" she asked hesitantly. "About touching you, I mean."
Elphaba pulled her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "Nobody touches me."
"Why, that's ridiculous, Elphie. I've touched you lots of times before. And I bet lots of other people have too."
Elphaba shook her head. "People only touch me when they have to. Even then, they're clearly reluctant to do so. Once, I got sick, and I was taken to five different doctors before one would agree to try and treat me. And he wore gloves," Elphaba said bitterly. She gave a short laugh. "Like he was afraid the green might be catching."
Glinda gazed at her steadily. "Sometimes people behave irrationally when they're faced with the unknown," she said, scooting closer to Elphaba. She was pleased when the taller girl didn't move away, and even unfolded herself enough to meet Glinda's eyes. "It's not fair or right, but it's true. We're often not at our best when we're dealing with something new," she said, reaching out and lightly stroking an olive cheek.
Elphaba flinched, but didn't pull away completely. "I don't know how you'd explain my father, then. He was around me my whole life, and I can recall only a few times that he deigned to touch his green-skinned progeny."
"Surely he touched you more than that, Elphie," Glinda said, feeling disturbed at the thought of a parent who wouldn't acknowledge their child in any tactile way.
"There was casual contact, I suppose," Elphaba said. "But even that he tried to keep to a minimum."
"But," Glinda said, trying to wrap her mind around the concept, "what about at night, when he tucked you in and gave you a good night kiss?"
"I'm fairly certain I was never 'tucked in,' as you say, before I went to sleep. Nessa was the one who received all the fussing and good night kisses."
Elphaba attempted a smile. "Perhaps he was trying to help me. He knew I was allergic to water, so maybe he was afraid his kisses would burn me," she said, unconsciously raising a hand and rubbing her cheek,
"Oh!" Glinda gasped, taken aback by the idea that someone could be hurt by something that was supposed to be soothing. "But of course he didn't think that. Surely he'd kissed you before. Kisses don't burn you, right?"
Elphaba shrugged as she leaned back against the wall, her shoulder brushing Glinda's. "I wouldn't know. No one's ever been brave enough to try."
"Elphaba Thropp," Glinda said with a small quiver in her voice, "are you telling me that no one's ever kissed you before? Please say you're joking, because I think I might cry if it were true."
"No need for tears, my pretty," Elphaba said, wrapping an arm around Glinda's waist and drawing her closer. "It's not as important as all that, and I'd hate for you to waste your tears on a thing like me. Besides," she said heartily, tipping a sniffling Glinda's face up to her own, "we can't very well have you going to bed all red and puffy. Think of what it'll do to your complexion in the morning. Blotchiness would not be good at all for blue day."
"This isn't funny, Elphie," Glinda said with a small sniff, shaking her head. "A person should be allowed the simple comfort of a kiss. They shouldn't be made to feel unworthy or unloved," she said, reaching up and cupping Elphaba's cheek. Glinda stroked the green cheek with her thumb, then leaned up and gently placed her lips on Elphaba's. She pulled back after a moment, but left her hand where it was.
Elphaba opened her eyes and gave Glinda a startled look. "You should be careful," Elphaba said lightly. "Your lips might fall off. At least, that's what the children used to say. 'Don't touch Elphaba, or you'll turn green.' 'Don't touch Elphaba, your hand will fall off.' 'Don't touch Elphaba—" she was silenced by pink lips once again pressing against her own.
This kiss lasted a bit longer, and Glinda felt Elphaba's grip tighten around her waist before she pulled away. "Well," Glinda said, taking a deep breath.
"Glinda?" Elphaba asked, a hint of uncertainty in her eyes and voice.
Glinda reached up and touched Elphaba's lips. "Hmm, no burn marks," she said, running her fingers around Elphaba's mouth.
Elphaba gasped, her mouth slipping open as Glinda's fingers circled it. "No burn marks," she agreed. She forced a smile and leaned back. "It would seem your experiment is a success."
"I guess so," Glinda replied, her hand suspended in mid-air. A tiny dark curl had escaped Elphaba's braid, and now hung tantalizingly over her left ear. Glinda reached forward and smoothed it back into place, then pulled Elphaba's head towards her. "Although," Glinda breathed, a bit shyly now, "I suppose, if we really wanted to be scientific about this, we would have to conduct this experiment several more times, just to see if it holds true."
Elphaba smiled, and tilted her head so that their noses just brushed. "We'll make a scholar out of you yet."