Title: The Importance of Negotiating
Author: Crystal (ellowyntinuviel)
Verse: both book and musical
Summary: Elphaba and Galinda make a deal that reveals the true nature of Elphaba. Disclaimer: I can't even pretend to anything related to Wicked.
Word Count: 3, 078
A/N: I haven't written anything in over a year (my muse abandoned me for bluer skies, greener pastures, and better food) and I have never written in this fandom, though I have certainly read enough of it. I'm mostly the kind of person who lurks, then suddenly appears out of the blue to post something, then crawls back under her rock to watch the world in secret.
Reviews are extremely appreciated. I'd love some feedback for this. The ending gave me quite a problem. I rewrote it several times before ending with this. Let me know how that went. I'll take the good, the bad, and ugly. All mistakes are mine.
I have no soul. It seemed to be Elphaba's mantra, her excuse for her acting rude and crude when she wanted. I have no soul; therefore, I don't exist. It infuriated Galinda to no end. Galinda could not fathom the idea that anyone was missing a soul. She didn't like to admit that she had taken a liking to her strange green roommate, but she had and for someone she cared about to suggest that they were without a soul perplexed her.
Galinda felt that it almost undermined their friendship; if Elphaba had no soul, how could she care about her studies, the weather, animals, Animals, how could she care about Galinda? Indeed, Galinda wondered sometimes if Elphaba really did care about her, as condescending and cruel as she was, but Galinda saw it in the way she caught Elphaba gazing at her sometimes, in the way Elphaba chuckled when Galinda would say something silly about shoes or a makeover, in the way Elphaba helped her, in the way Elphaba looked after her, challenged her, comforted her… suffice to say, the ways were numerous. I have no soul. She couldn't believe it, and so, as Elphaba had taught her, she challenged it.
"Just because you say it doesn't mean it's true," she started one evening as she and Elphaba were studying on the blonde's bed.
Elphaba looked up from her book with a look of surprise. She paused, raising an eyebrow at Galinda. "I didn't say anything…"
Galinda blushed. Somehow, she had expected Elphaba to read her thoughts. She smiled ruefully. "Of course, I mean it's, um, very, right… yes, well," she stuttered. "That is to say that… in general, just because you say something, a statement perhaps, that does not necessarily mean that the statement is true," Galinda finished smugly, hoping to entice Elphaba into conversation with her ambiguity.
Elphaba shrugged. "Okay," she said, looking back down at her book, "although, no one in this room has said anything for at least twenty minutes, true or otherwise. And anyway, if saying something doesn't make it true, than does that not mean, by extension, that what you just said isn't necessarily true?"
Galinda's eyes widened. She had not thought of that. It became apparent to her that being vague and coy would get her nowhere. She took a long moment to compose her thoughts, a feat she couldn't quite seem to manage at the moment. "Oh Elphie!" she cried suddenly, "you can't honestly believe that you have no soul!"
Elphaba sighed heavily, no looking up at the blonde girl. "Is that what this is all about? And here, I thought perhaps you were merely philosophizing and open to a serious discussion."
Galinda snatched the book away, ignoring her roommate's protests. "I am open to a serious conversation," she began. "I don't believe you have no soul. Everyone has a soul."
Elphaba glared, frustrated to have her book taken away from her. She reached to take it out of Galinda's hand. "What is your reasoning? What makes you so sure that there is such a thing as a soul, and that we are all in possession of one? How do you, Galinda Upland of the Upper Uplands, know that everyone has a soul?"
Galinda carefully moved her hand away, and placed the book on the bed next to her. Quickly, so Elphaba couldn't reach over and grab it, she unceremoniously plopped down on the book.
Elphaba's jaw dropped. "Did you just sit on my textbook?" she asked, stunned.
Galinda brushed Elphaba's question off with a wave of her hand. "It's not important," she said. "Listen, Elphie, you have to a soul. Everyone has a soul. It's the very essence of our humanity. It's what makes us alive, what makes us feel, what makes us love. It's just… common knowledge. I mean, if the unionists, and the Lurlinemists, and the pleasure faithers all say that we have souls, surely they must be right. You read their sermons, they never agree on things; except, all acknowledge the existence of the soul."
Elphaba looked stunned. "Clearly, you've thought about this. I'm impressed. And because I am so impressed, I will entertain your initial argument. Say the soul does exist, and I'm not saying I agree with that, I am merely saying we will consider that theory for the moment. The soul exists, but that doesn't mean everyone has one," she said smartly. "What do you say to that, Miss Galinda?" she asked smugly, leaning back against one of Galinda's many pillows.
Galinda frowned, her eyebrows furrowing. "Well," she reasoned, "if you didn't have a soul, then you wouldn't exist," she said, raising a hand, and speaking quickly when she saw Elphaba open her mouth to interrupt, "and don't give me that 'I have no soul; therefore, I don't exist' nonsense. I mean, really. If you didn't exist, we wouldn't be having this conversation, we wouldn't be roomies, or friends; I wouldn't care so much if you didn't exist, because… well, there would be nothing for me to care about," she said quite impassioned. "There would be nothing to give me such a terrible headache, for I wouldn't have to think so much," she finished, rubbing her temples.
Galinda couldn't gauge her roommate's reaction. Elphaba sat as impassive as ever, barely moving, occasionally blinking, but never giving any indication as to how she felt. When she spoke, her voice was barely above a whisper. "Than maybe you shouldn't think so hard," she said. "Maybe you shouldn't concern yourself with my soul or lack thereof."
Galinda scoffed. "Elphaba Thropp, you are infuriating. To think, I gave myself a headache thinking about you when there are much better ways to spend my time," she started, pulling the book out from underneath her. She glanced down at the title. Economic Principles of Trade and the Importance of Economic Negotiations to Society. Suddenly, and without warning, one last thought flew into her head. "Alright, Elphie, you don't believe you have a soul? Well, prove it."
The green girl sat up. "And how in Oz do you propose I do that?"
Galinda left the book sitting on her bed as she stood up and walked over to her desk. She picked up a piece of blank parchment and wrote on it. She took it back over to the bed and handed it to Elphaba. "Sign it, if you please."
Elphaba glanced down. In large lopping letters, Galinda had written out "Elphaba's Soul."
"What in Oz?" she asked the blonde.
"If you have no soul, then you won't mind signing it. After all, it shall be meaningless," Galinda smiled sweetly, folding her hands behind her back and tilting her head to the side. "It's not like I'm taking your essence, your spirit, the thing that makes you you."
Elphaba chuckled and grinned mischievously. "Why should I do this? What's in it for me?"
Galinda bit her lip. "Um… I don't know, I'll buy you a book. Yes, if you sign it, I shall buy you any book you desire."
Elphaba grabbed her writing utensil, and cackled. "Very well, my sweet."
In her neat, compact handwriting, she penned her name to the bottom of the parchment, rolled it up, and handed it to Galinda with a smirk. "My soul, Miss Galinda, in exchange for a book."
And so another day ended at Shiz University for Elphaba and Galinda, reluctant roommates turned close friends. They settled into bed shortly after their exchange. And just like any other day, most other students did the same, crawling into their beds at a reasonable hour. A small handful went gallivanting about the city, intent on drinking and sex. It was the normal sequence of events at Shiz University. If only anyone had known that tomorrow would not be such a normal day.
Of course, it arrived like any other. The sun rose steadily at an ungainly hour and an ungainly green girl rose with it.
Elphaba rose out of bed, rubbing her eyes, and carefully stood up. About halfway to the bathroom, she tripped over one of her books that had mysteriously appeared on the floor and was sent sprawling onto the floor with a curse. She stood up angrily, kicking the book across the room, propelling it under her bed. She heard it hit the wall that her bed sat against. Galinda mumbled something in her sleep and rolled over.
Grumbling, she went into the bathroom to clean herself. She picked up a bottle of oil and set it on the sink. Elphaba made to open up the bottle, but she overshot her mark, the bottle landing with a sickening crash to the ground, splattering glass and oil everywhere.
"Damn it all!" she swore, sinking to her knees to pick up the glass. "This is already turning into a bad day.
She heard someone knock on the door. "Elphie, are you okay?" she heard a sleepy-sounding Galinda call through the door.
She sighed. "Yes, Galinda, go back to bed."
Elphaba finished cleaning up the mess she had made, and carefully opened up another bottle of oil. She used as much caution as she could muster first thing in the morning, and managed to clean herself without further incident.
She exited back into the main room and warily walked towards her dresser to find something to wear. She made it halfway across the room before someone suddenly popped up right behind her, yelling "Boo!" directly in her ear.
Elphaba yelped and spun around, breathing hard. "Galinda? What the hell?" she gasped.
Galinda shrugged, giggling at Elphaba. "What?" she asked. Elphaba did not look amused. "Elphie, what? It was just a joke. Lighten up."
Elphaba growled low in her throat and stepped away towards her dresser. "It wasn't very funny," she snapped, grabbing a shapeless shift out of one of her drawers. She started rummaging around for undergarments while still cursing her blonde roommate.
Galinda went towards her bed and plopped down on the unmade blankets. "You just can't take a joke. You're so serious all the time," she smiled, jumping back up suddenly. She quietly moved behind Elphaba again. Poised in concentration, she pounced on Elphaba and began trying to tickle her. "Maybe you just need to laugh!" she shrieked.
Elphaba jumped in shock but remained unmoving. "What in Oz are you doing?" she asked.
Galinda stopped. "I was tickling you."
"Is that what that was?" Elphaba asked, crossing her arms over her chest and raising an eyebrow.
"You're not ticklish?"
Elphaba shrugged, turning back to her dresser. "I guess not. No one ever really tried before."
Galinda came up next to her, reached into the drawer Elphaba had been searching through and immediately pulling out appropriate undergarments, blushing as she handed them to the green girl. "Maybe you just can't laugh. You know some people believe that laughter directly correlates with having a soul. And now that I have yours…"
Elphaba snatched her undergarments away from Galinda with a harrumph. "Honestly, not that again…" she said, walking back into the bathroom, and slamming her finger in the door. "Damn!"
Elphaba trudged back up to her room later that afternoon, frowning, grimacing, and scowling all at the same time. She dropped her bag on the floor next to her bed, and sat down on her bed with a sigh. She put her head into her hands, and cursed that she found herself wanting to cry.
Elphaba Thropp had been victim to what she could only describe as the worst day she could remember. After her stressful morning, she had departed for her first class warily, arriving late. To add insult to injury, she realized that she had forgotten her textbook for that class, having kicked it far under her bed earlier that day.
After her first class, she had headed for the library, only to find it closed because of what the librarian had called a "freak book accident." So she settled in the cafeteria, spilling hot coffee on herself when Galinda snuck up behind her yet again. She had darted back to her room to change, and nurse her wound, a rather nasty looking burn on her stomach as a result of liquid.
This had resulted in her tardiness to her private lesson with Madame Morrible, who had lectured her extensively on the merits of punctuality. She earned herself a detention when she finally snapped and called the Headmistress a fish, saying she hoped someone stuck a hook in her and fried the woman for dinner.
Elphaba frowned. She felt hollow. Her day had left her disillusioned. She wanted to laugh in exasperation and cry in frustration all at the same time, but she couldn't find it in herself to do either. She realized that she couldn't do much of anything anymore. She felt like something was missing inside of her, like something important had been ripped right out of her very core.
She jumped up. No. She must be thinking madness. She was acting like she really had given away her soul, like she had a soul to give away. She mentally smacked herself, sitting back down. Of course, this was all just her mind playing with her. She wasn't missing anything; her mind only thought she was. But then why did she feel so empty?
A short time later, Galinda absolutely skipped into the room. "Hi, Elphie," she chirped, putting her bag on the floor, half-dancing towards Elphaba, who was still sitting hunched over on the bed. "My day was marvelous. Oh," she remembered, going back to her bag, and pulling out a book. "I got you something," she said, sitting down next to Elphaba, who finally sat up, looking weary. She handed her friend the book. "The book I owe you."
Elphaba grabbed it. Reflections on the Soul and the Power of Spirit. She sighed. "I thought I would get to choose it," she started quietly.
Galinda giggled. "That wasn't part of the deal, silly," she said airily, nudging Elphaba's bony shoulder.
"Ah, yes, that ridiculous deal."
Galinda smirked. "You still think it's ridiculous?" she asked smugly. "Tell me about your day, Elphie."
"Shut up," Elphaba snapped. "People have bad days. It happens. It has nothing with that silly deal."
Galinda put on her best thinking face. "You know, Elphie. I read some of that book. The universe works in mysterious ways. If someone didn't have a soul, the universe would have no reason to look after them, take care of them, make sure they were okay. Good things happen to people who can appreciate them, and in order to appreciate them, you would have to have a soul to feel with."
Elphaba looked at her. "Do you listen to yourself? Maybe I should worry about you. You've been thinking, reading…"
Galinda looked at her sadly, taking the small piece of parchment from the night before out of her pocket. "Oh, Elphie, why can't you just believe for once in your life? Why is it so important to you to not have a soul?" Galinda queried.
"Why is so important to you that I should have one?" Elphaba queried right back at her.
"Because… well, I mean," she paused. "I guess," she started, wondering whether of not she should continue. She would be putting herself out there with no chance of return should she be shunned. She took a deep breath. "I guess that it gives me hope. If you have a soul, you can feel, and it gives me hope that maybe you could feel the way about me that I feel about you…"
Elphaba bit her lip. "And how do you feel about me, Miss Galinda?" she asked, shocked to find herself leaning forward in anticipation of what Galinda might say.
Galinda blushed. "I had thought that I may have been too obvious," she said. "I mean, I care about you so much, Elphie. You make me so happy, when you smile, when you laugh, when you yell at me, when you jackknife yourself on my pink bed to study. I guess, what I mean is that I… I lo-" she started, only to be cut off by a pair of green lips pressed against hers.
Elphaba pushed her back onto the bed slowly, continuing to kiss her, trying to savor the moment, slowly finding contentment inside herself. Galinda kissed her back with just as much passion, slipping her tongue between her lips and into Elphaba's mouth, eliciting a gasp.
They continued to kiss until Galinda felt Elphaba trying to pry something out of one of her hands. She pushed Elphaba away gently and smirked up at her, keeping one hand around the parchment, and the other around Elphaba, keeping her close to her.
She chuckled. "Trying to get something, Miss Elphaba?"
Elphaba turned a dark shade of green. "I don't know what you mean, Miss Galinda."
Galinda pulled Elphaba back down for another kiss. "I didn't think you wanted this little old thing, Elphie," she said. "I'd give it back to you, but I can't think of what you could give me in return," she smirked.
Elphaba tried her best to look as scholarly as possible. "Well, I gather you have enjoyed yourself thus far. Imagine what I could do if I had my soul back, my essence, my spirit, my life…"
Galinda threw her arms around Elphaba, pulling the other girl flush against her. "Oh, Elphie, I always knew you had a soul!" she squealed, laying kisses on every inch of Elphaba's face she could get her lips on. "I just knew you had a soul!"
Elphaba kissed her, pulling the parchment out of Galinda's hand. She threw the parchment on the floor behind her. "Only when I'm with you, my sweet," she chuckled at Galinda's exuberance, finally feeling peaceful for the first time all day. She let herself succumb to her feelings for Galinda, feeling warmth, happiness, and joy flood her for what felt like the first time in her life.
Galinda smiled brightly as she kissed the other girl. "Well, I would like to hope so. I would hate it if you treated everyone like this," she said between kisses, feeling like the only person who existed on the planet at that moment, somehow knowing that Elphaba felt the same, knowing that Elphaba finally believed, that she finally felt.
And in that moment, they existed together.