From the moment they stepped off the train and got their first glimpse of the city towering behind the extravagant (and obviously new) Emerald City Station, both Elphaba and Glinda stood captivated. Even in the slowly fading evening light, with bright oranges and pinks and purples streaking across the horizon, the predominant feature of the city was still blindingly apparent.
"It's so incredibly . . ."
"Green," Glinda finished for her roommate, lifting one hand to shade her eyes against the setting sun.
"I mean, I knew it would be, obviously, but . . ."
"Don't be offended, Elphaba," Glinda said, "but it's even greener than you."
Elphaba set her suitcase down on the platform and dug in her pocket for the map the conductor had given them. "In daylight it must be -"
"Absolutely dazzling!" Glinda exclaimed.
"I was going to say 'blinding,' but all right." Finding the map, Elphaba traced her finger from the prominent representation of the train station to the carefully circled address of the hotel Madame Morrible had arranged. "Let's -"
"- find the hotel, yes, please!"
"May I finish a sentence?"
"Sorry." Glinda slipped her hand into Elphaba's free one. "I'm just so excited!"
"I could tell."
"Oh, come on, Elphaba. You can't tell me you're not ready to burst - it's your meeting with the Wizard tomorrow, after all."
Elphaba smiled down at the map in her hand. "I'm plenty excited. But if we all got excited the way you do, I believe something would explode."
"You're one to talk. Have you figured out the way?"
"To explode things?"
"To the hotel."
"Oh. Yes." Elphaba tilted the map so that Glinda could read it as well. "It's only a few blocks, want to walk?"
"If you think it's safe."
Elphaba laughed. "Don't worry, I'll protect you."
Glinda grinned up at her as they started up one brilliant emerald street. "Remember, here you can't scare people off just by looking all green at them. They'll just say, 'so what, you're green, so's everything else.'"
"Come to think of it, in the light through those windows there, even your hair is beginning to look a little . . . verdant."
"Now Elphie, that's just not nice."
Their hotel suite, which Madame Morrible had assured Elphaba would be "taken care of" by the Wizard himself, was a blessed relief after six blocks of nothing but bright green. The dying sunlight through their west-facing, emerald-tinted windows turned the red upholstery an unappealing shade of brown, but by then they were ready to look at something drab. Glinda had even begun to feel as though she would never complain about Elphaba's dark blue and black wardrobe ever again.
"How do they keep from going mad?" she asked, dropping into a shadowy red-brown chair with one hand falling over her eyes. "I hope you don't mind, Elphie dear, if I just don't look at you for a few minutes? Please don't take it the wrong way."
"I can barely stand the sight of myself," Elphaba agreed, perching on the end of the red-brown bed. "This must be how other people feel all the time!" Glinda may not have been able to see her friend's sly grin, but she could hear it clearly in the other girl's voice.
"I'd throw a pillow at you if I were willing to look for one," she grumbled.
"Here." Something soft landed in her lap. Glinda picked it up and tossed it back in the direction of Elphaba's voice.
"Did I get you?" she asked, eyes still closed.
"Miles off," was the cheerful reply.
Something rustled across the room, and she could sense Elphaba's presence coming closer. Cool fingers lifted her wrist from off of her face and she was wrapped from behind in only slightly warmer arms. "Tomorrow we'll have to get some of those glasses we saw everyone wearing," Elphaba promised.
"That'll help with the glare but not the color."
Elphaba pulled away, leaving Glinda's neck feeling cold. "Let's draw the curtains - it's almost dark anyway and then I strongly suspect this room will be a much nicer color than mud-brown."
Glinda kept her eyes closed until she heard the swish of the curtains sliding along the rod, then watched quietly as Elphaba lit the lamps in the now-dim room. In the faint yellowish glow they provided the furniture was indeed blood-red - a rather intense shade for upholstery, but then anything was better than green.
"Better?" Elphaba asked. "Or should I go and stand behind you, where you can't see me?"
Glinda laughed and shook her head.
"Are you sure?"
Pulling her tired body out of the chair, Glinda crossed the room and put her hands on Elphaba's shoulders. "That bright faux-emerald shade may have scarred my vision for life, but you are lovely." Her eyes flickered down to the bedspread, the corner of which was brushing against Elphaba's leg. "Although now I see why you don't wear red, and I'm very sorry for ever suggesting it."
"Perhaps the sheets will be an improvement." Elphaba backed out of Glinda's grip and pulled back the bedcovers. "Aha - white."
"White is a wonderful color," Glinda agreed. She stretched herself out on the rumpled bedclothes and patted the space next to her. "Come on, you look dead on your feet as well."
"I don't know," Elphaba hedged, even as she stiffly lowered herself onto the bed and swung her legs up to rest beside Glinda's. "You were pretty mad the last time I let you fall asleep in your clothes."
"I'm not going to fall asleep," Glinda murmured, although she could feel her eyelids growing heavier.
Elphaba's pronunciation of her old-real name was so subtle that Glinda almost missed it. She looked over to see Elphaba stretched out on her side, propped up on one elbow. "Hmm?"
Elphaba's gaze flickered downward for a moment before she spoke. "I'm glad you came with me. It's - it would have been so different, by myself. So - thank you. For being here."
Glinda rolled over to match her friend's posture. "You know - it was really nice of you, to ask me along to distract me and all. But you know you could have asked anyway. If you were just nervous about coming. I would still have gone with you, for any reason."
Elphaba smiled a little shyly. "Thanks."
Returning the smile, Glinda lay back down and scooted herself closer so that she rested in the curve created by Elphaba's body and her elbow. "That's just what friends do."
Behind her head, she could feel Elphaba sliding her arm out and laying her head down on it, with her cheek resting against Glinda's hair. The silence stretched out long and comfortable in the dim room, and at last Glinda sighed and said, "Do we really have to go back on Saturday?"
Again she could hear the smile in Elphaba's voice. "To school?"
"To school, to . . . Fiyero, to any of it. Can't we just stay here?" The words tumbled out in a sleepy rush and she didn't bother to restrain them.
Elphaba shifted to settle herself more comfortably against Glinda's side. "Sure," she said softly. "I'm beginning to see the attraction myself."
"Of course, then you'd have to look at all that green every day."
"Ugh, you're right. Back to Shiz it is."