Disclaimer: I don't own Wicked now anymore than I owned it the previous thirteen times I posted something in this section :)

Sallee made it a point not to muddle herself in the affairs of the other performers. In a profession as frivolous as the theatre, it was never a good idea to associate with any of them outside of rehearsals- particularly for a chorus girl without a chaperone, like Sallee.

Nonetheless, she did take note of one of stagehands on a seemingly typical afternoon. The member in question was generally…flamboyant, if not just plain irregular. Of course, in the field of entertainment, such abnormality were shunned less than in "respectable" occupations, and apart from a few catty whispers when backstage boredom set in, nothing was really ever said about it. A few productions later, a man with a similar affliction was hired, this time as a quick changer (he boasted openly about his condition, which Sallee found rather foolish but made no comment about it.)

The two…fancy men rarely made contact- in fact the stage painter seemed to make a point of avoiding that latter. This intrigued the ladies of Sallee's chorus line, but being practical she held her tongue and did not partake of the gossip.

But something was decidedly off about the stagehand that particular afternoon. He'd come in late- Sallee'd only noticed because opening night was only a week or so away, and with the sets still incomplete the stage manager had thrown a fit- and had been uncommonly subdued. Setting a shopping bag beside his aisle (he often came to the theatre with overly-glitzy "donations" to the costume department from Lady Glinda Chuffery- the painter was more sensible about revealing his nature than the quick changer) he picked up his brush and set himself to work. His brush strokes were not enthusiastic nor fast paced, and the latter encouraged more shouting from the director. The artist apologized, and quickened his application.

Sallee pressed herself against the vanity table as the director hurried past her, muttering under his breath. Once he'd moved on she turned towards the mirror and started fastening her costume with more haste. As she tired to use the reflection to find her necklace clasp, she caught sight instead of the quick changer approaching the art designer.

"Aw, don't fuss over them- old bags doesn't know a thing about the artistic process."

In spite of herself, Sallee felt her neck prick with irritation; the quick changer had a decidedly pompous manner about him.

"No, they're right." The artist's voice was more tender than Sallee would have expected. "It's a mess."

The young dancer hooked her necklace but did not turn away from the mirror.

"Tut, tut," the mirror showed the other male crouched down beside the painter and his design, "the young artist, his own worst critic! So harsh, so judgemental."

The artist made no reply that Sallee could hear, but noticed his hand was moving more forcefully across the canvas.

"I happen to think," the quick changer said, leaning closer to the other and stroking his cheek, "it's beautiful."

The girl nearly cracked her neck as she jerked around to see the artist's expression fully. She wasn't the only one paying attention- a gaggle of her colleagues were staring, one of them having the nerve to clutch on to a friend, as though watching the climax of one of their operas.

The artist sat up slowly and then came to his feet. He looked down at the person still seated upon the floor and said, "I'm sorry, sir, you seem to have the wrong impression about me."

The quick changer blinked. "I don't know what you mean," he said blankly.

Despite her practiced restraint, Sallee was among her co-workers in goggling as the painter pulled out a worn photograph and stuck it under the quick changer's nose. The girl in it was plain, but with twinkling eyes and a laughing mouth. "I happen to have a suitor," the set designer said calmly.

The message gotten, the quick changer scoffed and went on with his work, tightening little Helga's stays with more vigor than strictly necessary. Sallee straightened her bustier and leaned forward to apply her eyeliner, making a mental note not to be so quick to judge others.

Bent on his knees, Crope continued to create a forest on the cardboard cut out. He was careful to place the old Polaroid of Tibbett, dressed in drag for their incognito escapade to get Elphaba texts from the boy's library, into his wallet so as not to stain it with paint. He tried very hard not to think about the clear pity in Fiyero's eyes as he kissed him goodbye this afternoon.