Disclaimer: I do not own Wicked…le sigh…
Summary: "She would remember the room being different." Glinda and Elphaba have a chance meeting one night and find that things are never as we remember. Friendship piece, set between Defying Gravity and Thank Goodness
Living in the Shadows
-A One Shot
She would remember the room being different.
She listened in the shadows as girl after girl walked by its door. Some would jump past the blockade. Most though, their paces would quicken as they pass the door as they whispered words. Some even laughed. It was haunted, they said. Part of her soul had been left behind, they said. It was rumored that her maniacal laughing could often be heard at night. No one was brave enough to find out, though; after all, it hadn't been lived in since them.
And so it sat, door closed, waiting for someone to open it. To open the past once more.
She waited, until well after dark. Until they were all gone and no one would recognize her. She waited until the girls snuck out to their parties, only to return in the early hours of the morning.
She checked both ways and emerged from the shadows. She took two steps and tripped. Cursing silently, she hiked up her skirt and continued forward. When she reached the door she stopped and stared at it. The brown wood was cracked slightly, the maintenance crew having not painted it since their time. The cracks stared at her, like mocking beacons, welcoming her to a place and a time she had never thought to visit again.
Checking to her sides once more, she pulled out her key. She would never admit it but she kept it on her at all times, tucked safely into the left of her dress; close to the place one would consider a heart to be.
With a shaky hand she unlocked the door, turned the handle, and pushed. The door creaked slightly. It never had before.
It was dark, she didn't bother to turn the light on (though she wasn't sure they would work if she did), for the moon was light enough.
She would remember the room being different.
Nothing had been touched. She was surprised to see that none of their items had been removed. Perhaps everyone truly did believe in all the rumors. Books stood, stacked against one another, no longer able to support their own weight. Papers were strewn across their desks, pencils and pens lie still, waiting to be used. Even a few dresses that had been left behind, hanging limply off their hangers. The dreary, brown bed was made, sheets tucked neatly under the mattress. A picture of perfection. The pink bed, on the other hand, was a mess. One pillow sat at the foot of the bed. The coverings were meshed and tangled. Distraught and disastrous.
Dust covered every inch of the room. No surface escaping its allergenic dustiness. She ran her hands along the wall; two long streaks left in her wake. In a haze, she walked to the window. The curtains hung, faded from light and weary. She touched one, puffs of dust flying into the air and few moths following suit. She wondered, how many times had she touched these curtains before? They had never been dusty before.
Carefully, she placed her hands on the window sill, peering into the night sky. She had stood just like this, many times before; wondering about anything and everything and all that was in-between. And yet, though she had stood like this so many times before, it was not the same.
Even the view was different.
The moon cast different shadows. The trees had grown ominously. The fountain in the far distance seemed to flow with water more impure than even the wickedest of souls.
She sighed and looked out on the place she once called home. The years seemed to have disappeared. She didn't understand how she had come to this exact moment. She was doing everything she had once known she would do, everything she had hoped she would do. Fate seemed to have engulfed her. She was strong and brave. So many relied on her and she relied on them. She was who she was. Who, she supposed, she always had been.
And yet, it was empty. She was empty. It was hard, she supposed, living like this. Pretending to be one way but knowing, deep down, that you were anything but. A lie. She was a lie. The press expressed her in the way they saw her to be. Let them she always thought. But now, let them even seemed too much to do.
It was hard living in the shadows; even when it was the shadows of one's mind.
"Now here's a sight I'd never thought I would see again."
And suddenly there was another voice.
She didn't jump when her companion spoke. She had stood here so many times before in the past, waiting for the voice to interrupt her, that she had almost been expecting her.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, not taking her eyes from the distance before her.
There was a shift behind her and she knew her companion moved closer.
"I'm not sure, actually," the voice said. "I felt," There was a pause. "Compelled?"
She nodded and made a small humming noise.
"And you?" The voice asked.
She didn't respond at first. She continued to look into the night. She didn't want to respond. And yet, when it came to the person behind her, she had never been able to escape the truth. It snuck up on her, even when she tried to push it away. She could never lie to those eyes that were staring at her now.
"Because," she finally spoke, her voice laced with the darkness she had acquired from the past years. "I couldn't forget any more."
There was another shift as something light was placed on one of the beds. The brown one, she guessed. "That's funny," the voice finally spoke. "I always thought I was the cynical one."
Glinda let out a long, frustrated sigh and pushed away from the window; turning her back to the clear pane. "Time goes, people change," she said. "The Good included."
Elphaba regarded her carefully, brow raised and eyes wide. Her broom was placed carefully on her old bed, bending the bed covers for the first time in years. She opened her mouth to say something, then decided against it; shaking her head. She turned and surveyed their old dorm room.
"It's dusty in here," she stated simply, for lack of anything better.
Glinda scoffed, "Of course it is, no one has lived in here since the night we left for The Emerald City," she said, annoyed.
"Really?" Elphaba asked, surprised, turning back to her blonde friend. "But you..?"
Glinda shrugged and looked at her pink covered bed. Her eyes grew hazy as she was taken back to another time. "I tried," she said, her voice suddenly turning sad. "I spent my first night back here. I tried to sleep. But I couldn't. All I did was think and think and think. And then thoughts turned into nightmares. So I sat up, clutching my pillow and staring your bed."
There was silence.
Elphaba stared at Glinda her eyes wide once more. She stayed quiet. Knowing that though Glinda had stopped talking, she really wasn't done.
When Glinda spoke again her voice went from sad to accusing: "So I got another room. A private suite so no one bothered me. But nothing stopped the nightmares. Nothing ever has. Nothing ever does."
There was silence.
"Well," Elphaba finally spoke, her voice cautious, wondering if she should speak the words on her tongue. "At least you finally got your private suite," she said, hoping to lighten Glinda's mood. She had done it countless times before, and it had always helped. Stupid comments that would send Glinda into fits of giggles. Why should now be any different?
And yet, she should have known that it was.
Glinda's face immediately darkened, her fists clenching. She hit the wall behind her, engulfing her in a cloud of dust. And suddenly she appeared again, as if she had just done a bad magic trick. "Damn it Elphaba," she snarled. "That's all you can say?!"
"Quiet," Elphaba hissed, taking a step forward. "Someone might hear you."
"It doesn't matter. They all think this place is haunted," Glinda said close to a yell.
"Shut up!" Elphaba hissed again, placing her hand over Glinda's mouth.
Glinda snapped her head to the side and pushed Elphaba away with a force that surprised both women.
"Oz, Glinda. What's gotten into you?" Elphaba asked, quietly, looking at her friend with sad eyes.
Glinda stared at her emerald friend, eyes bright and somewhat maniacal; feeling more alive than she had in years. She rolled her eyes. "And they said I was the dumb one."
Elphaba's jaw dropped. "We've spent years apart and by some weird twist of fate we're standing here tonight and you're really going to act like this?" She said quietly, unbelieving.
"Did you really expect me to act any other way?"
"Yes!" Elphaba exclaimed.
"My Oz, Elphaba, the years really have lowered you're I.Q. haven't they?"
Elphaba groaned in frustration, the temper she was so famous for beginning to surface. "Apparently they have, so why not enlighten me Oh-Intelligent-One."
"You really don't know?" Glinda asked, her voice losing its bight and her eyes softening.
"Obviously not!" Elphaba hissed, impatiently.
Glinda's anger flashed at Elphaba's small outburst. "Because you left!" she finally screamed.
The two friends stared at each other, neither caring if Glinda's scream had been heard by anyone else. Suddenly, all of Oz disappeared and only they existed. Glinda's anger ebbed and tears filled her eyes. Elphaba's face was a mask devoid of emotion. They stared; unable to do anything else.
Finally, Glinda couldn't take anymore, and she tore her eyes from Elphaba's. She looked to Elphaba's old bed, to the woman's characteristic broom. "I hate that broom," she bit quietly as a single tear rolled down her cheek. Silence. She turned back to Elphaba, who had yet to move. "And I hate that hat."
Glinda's comment seemed to be the one thing that Elphaba had been waiting for as she jumped to life. "Then throw it away," the green woman said bitterly, ripping the hat from her head, throwing it at Glinda. The black object hit Glinda square in the chest before dropping to the floor. "Like you should have done in the first place."
Glinda's eyes darkened and she kicked the hat, sending it back to Elphaba. It stopped at her feet. "Keep it. I already threw it away," she bit. "When I gave it to you."
Hurt flashed across the green woman's face, but just as fast as it had appeared it was gone. "So this is really how it's going to be then," she said slowly, her voice shaking with suppressed rage. "After everything. We've been through together--,"
"Apart," Glinda interrupted.
"---You're really going to act like this," Elphaba finished, ignoring Glinda's comment, though her eyes raged.
"Did you expect it to be any other way?"
"Yes," Elphaba responded. "I had hoped to be met with the Glinda I had once known."
"The Glinda you once knew doesn't exist anymore."
"Apparently not," Elphaba replied. "Care to tell me where she went, so I can go have a sensible conversation with her?"
"She's long gone," Glinda replied. "She died the day you left."
"Don't you dare place that blame on me!" Elphaba snapped, pointing her finger. "Neither the loss of your soul or the leaving."
"Well you did!"
"No Glinda," Elphaba said, kicking her hat behind her, and dangerously approaching the blonde witch. "The truth of the matter is you're the one who left."
"I did no such thing!" Glinda replied, shocked and enraged. "You're the one who flew out that window Elphaba. I watched you leave."
"I may have left that attic," Elphaba replied. "But you're the one who left me. I asked you to come with me. To stay with me," her voice was low, barely above a whisper. "But you chose not too. You're the one who left. You're the one who wanted grand things. And now you've got them. You've left me do to what is right and so I do it. Don't you dare blame me for the way your life has turned out."
Glinda's throat tightened and her breath hitched. She took in a deep, steadying breath to keep her tears at bay. She clenched her hands into fists, her knuckles turning a bright white. "Don't play the victim," she spat. "I'm the one who had to come back her alone. I had to face the questions. I had to face the stares. I had to face the lies. And I still do. Every day I put on a face and tell them lies about you. I can't stand it. I can't deal with it. And all because you had to lose control for one second and fly off the handle."
The two friends once again stared at one another. Elphaba breathed deeply through her nose and Glinda held her breath.
"So stop it," Elphaba finally said, keeping her eyes trained on Glinda.
"Stop what?" Glinda asked annoyed, once more.
"Stop lying. Tell them the truth," Elphaba said, her voice almost a challenge. "For once, tell them the truth, instead of what they want to hear."
"Why should I?" Glinda replied steadily.
"Because, the truth shall set you free," Elphaba said. "If it's so hard for you to lie, then just tell the truth."
Glinda didn't respond, she simply stared at the woman across from her.
Elphaba smirked and turned her head to the side. "You can't can you?" she asked. Glinda continued to stare. Elphaba's eyes widened and she nodded. "And so you have changed, Glinda."
"Finally come to that conclusion, have you?" Glinda asked, smartly.
Elphaba shook her head. "But not in the way you think you have."
"Oh?" Glinda crossed her arms and rested her weight on one leg.
"You're the wicked one now."
Glinda's anger flared and her hand retracted, ready to hit Elphaba. She paused and Elphaba's challenging look. "I am not," she responded instead, lowering her arm.
"Yes," Elphaba explained, flatly. "You are."
"Care to enlighten me as how?" Glinda asked. "After all I'm not the one riding around Oz on that," she said, pointing to Elphaba's broom.
Elphaba smirked. "Maybe not. But that is the difference between you and me. Me, I know I'm wicked and I've embraced it. You, on the other hand, hide you're wickedness. Behind that mask of smiles and flares. You're just as troubled as the rest of us. You're no better than any of them." Glinda's eyes hardened as Elphaba spoke. "You know," Elphaba added after a lapse of silence. "Sometimes I feel that I'm the only good person in all of Oz. I may not do what most people think is right, but I don't hide behind myself."
And there was silence once more.
Glinda's face was hard, etched like stone, as tears fell freely from her eyes. "I can't do this anymore," she finally said, righting her shoulders and standing tall. "I have a press conference tomorrow and need my sleep, so if you'll excuse me." Her voice was quiet as she pushed past Elphaba, the green woman letting her do so without a fight.
Glinda got to the door, placed her hand on the handle and paused. She lowered her head as more tears wracked her body. Out of the corner of her she saw it; sitting just by her foot. Elphaba's hat.
And suddenly, Glinda lost control. She felt lost and confused. Dizzy. How could they have come to this? How could it be like this? They had been best friends, once upon a time. In this room. They had shared secrets. They had done work. They had lived. They had formed the strongest friendship either would ever have.
"Elphie," she breathed, saying the nickname she had long since forgotten, for the first time. Slowly, Glinda lowered herself to the ground, picked up the hat and stood. She clutched the item to her chest as she turned, not surprised to see Elphaba facing her; a saddened look on her face.
Without a word, Glinda stepped forward, slowly approaching the taller woman. Carefully, Glinda raised the hat, securely placing it on Elphaba's head. "Forgive me," she whispered, the tears continuing to fall, as she ran her hand the length of the brim. "For missing my best friend."
Elphaba's face broke, and it was obvious the composed woman was trying not to cry. After all, it would be uncharacteristic of her to do so.
With a sad smile, Glinda backed away, and turned towards the door once more.
"Glinda," Elphaba whispered.
The Good Witch turned. "Yes Elphie?"
Slowly, Elphaba walked forward and took Glinda's hand. Both stared at their linked hands for a moment before simultaneously looking up and meeting the other's sad gaze.
Finally, Elphaba allowed her self a small, unusual, smile. "We have to get to bed," she said, pulling Glinda towards her old pink bed. "We have to get up early for Doctor Dillamond's lecture. And you need your beauty sleep. Can't have your pretty face faltering, can we?" She asked, her old sarcastic, yet teasing tone seeping through.
Glinda chocked on a sob and bit her lower lip, unable to do anything else but allow Elphaba to place in her old dusty bed and tuck her in. The green woman made sure the coverings were pulled up to Glinda's chin and she was secure.
"Goodnight, Elphie," Glinda said quietly, through her ever flowing tears.
Elphaba smiled and leaned forward, placing a small kiss on Glinda's forehead. "Goodnight, my sweet," she whispered. Standing, Elphaba walked over to her own bed and pulled back the sheets. Slowly she slid down and covered herself up.
The two friends turned and looked across the room at each other. Taken back to a time when neither had to worry about what would happen tomorrow or if their out facades would finally fall. They were taken back to a time where there was simply them and the hope for the next day.
And so the room that so many thought was haunted was, occupied by the past, if only for a single night.
Glinda would remember the room being different. But the black eyes across from her she would remember in perfection. They were the one thing she would never forget in the time she spent masked by someone she was not. Masked by the shadows of her life and of her past; though those black orb of eyes would live on. Forever and ever. The light that cast her shadow. And though it was bad and though it was hard, she supposed one thing:
Lving in the shadowsis often the only way to survive.