Disclaimer: "Lies can stand up against much in the world, but not against art. Once lies have been dispelled, the repulsive nakedness of violence will be exposed- and hollow violence will collapse."- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Surprisingly, Pfannee was the first to let go- not that it was much her choice. Galinda had pushed her with such force that she only held contact with Shenshen's mouth for a split-second before she toppled to the ground, bringing the other girl with her and all but pining her to the floor (this position no doubt inspiring many a "who's on top" joke from fraternity brothers in the days to come). Really, the brushing of the lips had been so brief that during a time of normalcy it wouldn't even have been notable.
However, when one is- in essence- on trial by peer in the form of the entire student population debating whether or not to ostracize a person for an alleged preference as same-gender intercourse, some things tend to register a tad more than usual.
Tibbett had managed to thrust his way through the crowd in the throws of its shocked silence and helped Pfannee to her feet. She stared dazedly down at Shenshen, who lay on the floor, her many skirts askew around her and her face turning an interesting shade of violet. She was trembling, mouth moving, but in the first time anyone had ever seen at Shiz, she was apparently speechless.
They stayed like that, staring at each other, for what seemed like muted hours before Pfannee finally swallowed and said determinedly, "Shenshen…I really have to tell you…"
The whole of the campus seemed to hold its breath. Shenshen gazed up at her almost fearfully.
"…I don't care what any of your stupid friends say…that lipgloss does not in the LEAST taste like glazed donuts- I'd ask for my money back, were I you." And then she collapsed into laughter.
Shenshen gawked at her, still not bothering to pick herself off the floor. "You-!" she stammered. "You little-! I-!"
But Pfannee was still giggling, so hard now that she clutched onto Tibbett's shoulder for support. He stared at her as though worried for her sanity.
"Um, Pfan?" he asked tentatively. "You okay?"
"Never better," she chortled, grinning.
"Good," he said slowly, "But uh- mind letting me in on the joke?"
"The joke?!" she cried, almost wheezing now as she doubled over in hysterics. "O-Oz, Tibbett, I'm standing out in the common room with the w-whole of the school, after I just k-kissed my former b-best friend who s-shunned me and forced me to sleep on a futon couch since she's unfairly prejudiced against a lifestyle I DON'T EVEN TAKE PART IN MYSELF!!" She nearly fell over on the floor again in laughter. "And y-you want a JOKE?! Like sheer reality of our situation i-isn't enough?! THIS IS RIDICULOUS! It's completely HYSTERICAL!"
She gasped for breath, almost tearing up now as she attempted in vain to get a hold of herself. Everyone stared at her, a few people even leaving the scene, shaking their heads incredulously.
"Pfannee," Shenshen said icily, one perfectly plucked eyebrow narrowed, "You. Have. Gone. Mad." She finally stood up. "I thought it was bad enough when I found out you've been secretly pining for me, but this just takes the-"
"OH MY OZ," Pfannee cut in, half exasperated, half amused, "I AM NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU SHENSHEN, I BARELY GIVE YOU MERIT AS A HUMAN BEING."
"Cha, right," she replied sardonically. "That's why you practically force-tackled me to the ground just to get some action."
"Dear Oz, are you serious?" The crowd parted like an Ozian equivalent of the Red Sea as the Green Girl, of all people, strutted towards them with an eye roll. "The girl practically fell on your face, what was she supposed to do, defy gravity?" She turned towards Galinda. "I thought you came out here to shut that harpy up, I'm trying to read."
"Well I'm so sorry," Shenshen interjected sarcastically. "Mustn't interrupt Reader's Circle in the cabbage patch, Oz knows you don't pick up a book enough as it is."
"Don't try to drag me into this soap opera, I'm just here for the free food," Greenie replied dryly, and went to stand by the threshold- near Fiyero and away from the center chaos.
"Now then," Shenshen said grumpily, "AS I WAS SAYING, you are positively out of your mind, Pfannee de Pfan, bad enough you have romantic interest in GIRLS-"
"I do not either!" Pfannee protested, not a trace of laughter in her voice now. "Not that it matters to me, because that sort of thing isn't important-" Shenshen bristled "-but I just don't!"
"Right," Shenshen replied acidly. "Pity there's no way to prove it. Other than the fact that you just shoved your tongue down my throat."
"The words 'you wish' spring to mind-" Pfannee started, but Tibbett held up a hand to silence her.
"Who says?" he demanded, addressing Shenshen.
She blinked. "I beg your pardon?" she asked, taken aback.
"Of course," he said, giving a polite little bow. "What I mean to ask is, who says there is no way to prove Miss de Pfan's orientation?" He turned towards Pfannee, who was also eyeing him quizzically. "Pfannee," he said clearly, his voice diplomatically casual, but with a hint of something else behind it. "Do you remember what the term 'bisexual' means?"
Pfannee arched her brow. "I don't see how seeing if I'm bisexual or not will help my argument that I am not in love with the Guttersnipe of Gallantry Grove, Master Tibbett."
"Ah, maybe not," he replied easily, as Shenshen tittered behind him, "But perhaps it is not your bisexuality to which I refer."
Then she got it. Pfannee felt her throat go dry as the reality of what he was trying to say ingulfed her. Unbidden, Shenshen's own words popped into her head: That one is almost cuter than Fiyero…
"Um," she squeaked, trying to play along in spite of herself, "Why don't you ask Master Crope what it means?"
Tibbett's face darkened, just a little. "I'm afraid I don't think that would be appropriate, anymore," he said affably. "Besides, I should think he's probably too busy searching for a new dorm mate to deal with the trivial questions of his ex." He looked at her intently. "So you never answered me. Do you know what 'bisexual' means?"
"I don't know," Pfannee replied innocently. "Could you perhaps give me a demonstration?"
Hey, she might have been slow. But even she wasn't THAT stupid.
Delicately, he snaked his arm around her waist, pressing her to him. His breath felt hot on her face, in a good way, with a slight whiff of milk from his breakfast tingling in the air. He seemed to deliberate for a moment before pressing his lips to hers, holding them there for a good moment and dipping her slightly before a shrill whistle("Get a hold of yourself, Elphie, honestly, you'd think you'd never seen a liplock!") jolted them back to reality and made them step awkwardly from each other.
"Satisfied?" Pfannee asked smugly.
The look on Shenshen's face was nothing short of one who goes into the bathtub looking for some solace in the form of a bubbly soak and instead finds a spider clogged in the drain. Not waiting for an answer, Pfannee slipped her arm under the crook of Tibbett's elbow and turned to go.
"Wait." To her great surprise, Pfannee felt a familiar, manicured hand tug at her elbow. Shenshen's eyes were pleading. "Pfannee, I…I know I was rather rough on you this week, but it was a misunderstanding and- Oz, I just can't stand to see you ruin your life this way! Is this really what you want? To spend your days- simpering over some freak who's swapped saliva with his own gender before?! Honestly, Pfannee- you're better than that."
Pfannee just looked at her. "Miss Shenshen," she said coolly, "Kindly refrain from speaking to me ever again."
"Pfan, please," Pfannee couldn't believe this. All it took was knowing that she wasn't actually a homosexual, and Shen acted like they were bosom pals again. "It's not just me, it's-it's-" she faltered, then glanced over her shoulder desperately. "Milla!" she whined. "Back me up here!"
Milla jumped at being addressed; she'd been watching mutely from the sidelines ever since the brawl. The debutante looked at Shenshen, then Pfannee, then back at Shen and took a step forward.
"Alright," she replied calmly, "I will." And she shoved Shenshen away from the other girl forcefully.
"Milla!" Shenshen cried reproachfully. "What has gotten in to you?!"
" Well you said to 'back you up,'" the raven-haired beauty replied crossly, "And I'll tell you what hasn't gotten into me- food, for nearly a half hour. Or even for the past month, since you insisted we all go on that ludicrous no-carb thing. What's the big deal, anyhow? So what he's kissed a guy, we do it all the time."
Shenshen gawked at her. "Because we are female, Miss Milla," she replied tartly. "Really, this isn't like you, resorting to outbursts and mild violence- I must tell you, it's simply not ladylike. And your father would die of shame to hear you talk that way about this business of same-gender couples, don't you know it says in the Oziad-"
"That the Unnamed God loves everyone, no matter what?" Milla, the preacher's daughter, finished, firing up at once. "Why yes, I do. I'm rather surprised you remember, seeing as the majority of the time you go to chapel with me I find you in the basement with an alter-boy rather than listening to scripture."
Before someone could even open there mouth for an "ooh" Shenshen had rounded on her, snapping, "Well you know if I came to think on it it almost sounds as if you would be willing to ask out another girl, Milla. I've seen you turn down men other girl's would kill for-"
"-In order to get their rank," Milla cut in waspishly. "But none of those girls has actually had to endure the inane excuse for conversation such boys present- they treat you like you should be drooling over them, like they're some kind of god, why-" she broke off, eyes scanning the crowd. They narrowed determinedly once they found their target and, without warning, she strutted over to the boy's side, grabbed a munchkin by the scruff of his collar and kissed him right then and there!
"-Why Biq's a better kisser than half those ingrates!" she declared. "And he treats Galinda like a proper little queen, even when she doesn't give him the time of day! Only she can't notice him because it would go against her bloodline and be unladylike. The whole thing is a bunch of swill!" Her unprecedented rant finished, Milla spat on the floor for further emphasis.
Shenshen quivered with indignation. "Well at least I'm not about to get my hide kicked by a cripple for making out with her boyfriend!" she snapped, for lack of a better comeback, and without another word stormed off back towards her dormitory.
Everyone in the crowd seemed at a loss as to what to do now, still in a daze from the entire matter.
"Alright, people," Galinda called after a pause. "This whole thing is so four-clock ticks ago. I'm going to get some biscotti at the café- anyone want to join me?"
"Can I put a shirt on first?" Fiyero asked, straightening the baggy sweatpants he wore as pajamas.
"Yes, really," Greenie seconded.
Galinda gave him a peck- on the cheek- but then grabbed Greenie's hand and said, "Come on, darling, we'll wait for Mr. Sleepyhead there." The majority of the others followed suit as they left, clearly wondering in the back of their minds just how friendly that "darling" was. Only a handful lingered.
Milla was one of them. "Boq?" she pressed tentatively, waving a hand over the munchkin's face. He appeared to be off in his own little world, drooling slightly. "Boq?"
"It's Biq," he corrected automatically, still not fully there.
"Rilly?" she asked curiously. "Oh, well- I'm going to go get my shawl real fast- you want to go with the others while you wait for me?"
"Okay," he said with happy blankness, and walked away.
Shaking her head, she turned toward Pfannee and Tibbett, both of whom were grinning at her.
"You were spectacular, Millie!" Pfannee gushed.
Milla shrugged. "We do our best," she replied modestly. She took in the two of them. "So you really do only like guys then?" she asked, for verification.
Pfannee nodded. "Just this one," she said, smiling like an idiot and pointing at her new suitor.
"Shame." Milla gave him a brief look of apology and briefly brushed her mouth against the other girl's. "You really are quite cute."
"So totally didn't see that," Tibbett said, smiling crookedly.
"Y-you're a-" Pfannee stammered.
"I didn't really know what it meant, before," she admitted. "Not till Shen started ranting about it all this past week, and- it all just started to make sense."
"Wow," Pfannee shook her head. "The Unnamed God works in mysterious ways, I suppose."
"Yes," Milla agreed. Then she grinned. "But at least He got you a man in the deal."
They all laughed, but then Milla added more seriously, "Promise you won't tell anyone?"
"Not till your ready," Tibbett said firmly for both of them.
Milla nodded, flushed, and quickly busied past them to get her shawl. She turned on her heel as she got to the threshold of the common room. "Um," she called back uncertainly, "On second thought, maybe you could slip it past Nessarose? Shenshen may be an evil hag, but she is right about one thing: I rather like my nose, I don't want the Thropp girl to-"
"We got it," Tibbett assured her, making no attempt to cover his laughter once Millie had disappeared from sight. He poked Pfannee, who was starting blankly after her. "What?"
She shook her head. "I don't know," she said distantly. "The whole thing is just so…surreal. It almost feels like a dream."
"Really?" His green eyes twinkled mischeviously. "How queer."