A/N: In order to post this on LJ, Kirra and I wanted to make sure that the content of each chapter matched in the OLAL here, and the OLAL on LJ. She rearranged the chapters, condensing my seven into five, although the content is the same. It seems a bit confusifying, but it's still the same content. ^_^
Of Love and Loathing
Mademoiselle Satine/Kirra White Tigress
Elphaba pushed open the laboratory door, throwing a "Good night!" over her shoulder as she went. She strode quickly down the hall, glancing at her watch. 9:00. If she hurried, she should still have some time to study for her Ozian history quiz the following day. She stepped into the meadow that she used as a shortcut to the girl's dormitory, running her history facts through her mind. Thunder rumbled over her head, interrupting her thoughts. The green girl picked up the pace, donning her cloak in just enough time to shield the first raindrops from her sensitive skin. She hurried toward the brick building up ahead as lightning flashed above her.
Galinda smiled to herself as she sat at her vanity, calmly brushing out her smooth, golden hair. She frowned a little at the impending storm, but chose to ignore it, and the smile gracefully returned. But then her actions faltered as her mind dared to stray toward darker thoughts. Naturally she hated storms because of their loudness, but now another factor had come into play--whenever the thunder rolled, it seemed to call her accursed roommate back to their dorm. The blonde rolled her eyes. Just when she thought she would be free from her for one moment…..
Elphaba glanced at the second window up, two to the left. The light was on, signaling the undesirable presence of her dimwitted roommate. For a moment she actually considered braving the stinging rain to avoid Galinda's exasperating company, but reluctantly thought better of it. The rain intensified, angry thunder rolling across the sky. The girl pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders, hurrying into the safety of the dormitory. She took as much time as reasonably possible trudging up the stairs to the second floor. She searched for any plausible reason to avoid returning to her room, but came up with nothing. Besides, curfew was fast approaching, and there was no way she would escape Madame Morrible's grasp if she disregarded that.
I'll never forgive that over-inflated snob for rooming me with Miss Brainless Barbie. Is caring for one's sister simply too much to ask? she thought darkly, shooting the door a glare that should have burned it to the ground. She sighed, entering the room and ignoring the frilly pink and blonde fuzz she saw out of the corner of her eye. She made a beeline for her desk. Hopefully she could lose herself in her studies before Galinda had a chance to open her mouth.
The blonde paused the moment she heard the sound of the doorknob turning. That could only mean one thing…. She really had half a mind to hurl her hairbrush at her disgusting, green roomie the moment she walked through the door, but thought better of it--she was not too inclined to have to buy another one to replace it. So she stayed still, attempting to go back to her previous activities as Elphaba whirled into the room.
Her attempts, however, were futile. Seriously, how could one ignore someone who stuck out like a weed in the middle of a flower field? At that mental image, Galinda forced back an evil giggle and instead set her blue eyes upon the one she loathed so much. Sensing Elphaba's fury a mile away, she decided to break the code of silence settled between them. If not just out of pure boredom, then just to frazzle the girl a little more.
The blonde set her brush down and stretched. "Sorry, I think you're in the wrong place. The greenhouses are a little further down," she said, waving in the window's general direction.
"Have you ever been away from that mirror long enough to ensure that it isn't a vital organ?" Elphaba shot back, not looking up from her book. "Maybe you're the freak, with a mirror for a lung."
"Oh, so the green creature dares to speak!" Galinda exclaimed, resting a hand against her heart in feigned shock. She turned around to face her roommate, albeit reluctantly, and stared at her like one would look through the glass that a trapped animal lay behind. "Not such a pretty thing, are you? Maybe your creators down at the lab messed up on their calculations. How terrible for you."
"At least they didn't forget my brain."
"By the rumors I've heard they added a little something extra." The blonde wrinkled her nose in disgust at the thought.
"To you? …Superficiality?" the green girl asked innocently, still not looking up from her studies.
Galinda stared at the green girl, her head tilted to the side just slightly in her rising confusion. "Come again?"
"Shallowness? Insincerity? Showiness? Any of those ringing a bell?"
"Shallow??" the blonde screeched, her fury reaching an all-time high. Her posture straightened almost immediately as she tried to look at least a little intimidating, her eyes flashing dangerously. "And you think you're any better, Miss Frog? With your sarcasm and so-called intelligence?"
"At least my "so-called intelligence" extends beyond that vanity," Elphaba spat. She smiled inwardly. Secretly, she loved this. She loved how she could always get under the blonde's skin, no matter how calm and collected Galinda was at the beginning of the argument. Now she waited with an almost wicked anticipation for the hilarity that was Miss Galinda Upland's bad temper.
Galinda opened her mouth to say something biting, something that would send her roommate reeling for an equal response… but she found that she came up short. Never before had she met someone so infuriating, much less someone who could murder her flawless reputation just by merely existing! But still… she couldn't help but feel something else towards these little arguments they had. It was something frustrating and irritating… yet it wasn't at the same time. She frowned as she wondered just what this feeling was….
And then she remembered just what she was in the middle of. Regaining at least a little bit of her resolve, she quickly fired back with, "Well… at least I'm not a green freak!" A pathetic response, she knew, but it was all her anger-clouded mind could think of.
Elphaba had to bite her lip to keep from laughing out loud. Irritating as her roommate was, she most certainly wasn't boring.
"And I am equally fortunate not to be a blonde one," she replied casually.
She turned her full attention to her studies. As entertaining as disagreements were, she didn't have any more time for them. She needed to ace this quiz to keep herself at the top of her class.
Galinda gasped, her blue eyes wide in offense. "Why you impertinent little--!"
A loud boom of thunder interrupted her, followed quickly by a blinding flash of lightning. The blonde involuntarily let out a shriek at the surprise, her body going rigid at the sudden turn nature was taking outside of their dorm. She had completely forgotten about it. Now she was trapped in this room with a girl who was slowly driving her to the edge of insanity, and with a storm that could very well tear the entire university apart.
Stay calm, she thought in an attempt to keep herself from crying. At least the storm is temporary.
Elphaba jumped at the storm's sudden outburst, Galinda's shriek piercing her ears. She glanced over her shoulder at Galinda, who looked about ready to burst into tears. Sighing, Elphaba rose from her seat and pulled the curtains shut, then returned to her studying.
She told herself that she had closed the curtains so that she wouldn't get a migraine from all of Galinda's screaming. And she nearly believed it.
Galinda watched in awe as the green girl quickly and almost calmly pulled the curtains closed, wondering how in Oz she could do such a thing. From the rumors she had heard for the past few weeks, Elphaba supposedly would melt away if she made contact with water in any way. How could she be brave enough to stand up to her natural enemy without flinching, even with a pane of glass serving as a barrier?
Because she's stubborn and abnormal and a freak….
There was another loud roll of thunder, which made the blonde whimper in her rising fear. This was just perfect, wasn't it? In order to get to her bed and at least attempt to get some rest, she would have to get up and move toward the window. Thus the already loud noises would become louder, throwing her deeper into despair…. She flinched upon hearing small and solid hit the window from the force of the wind. She supposed she would have to remain where she was for the night. How wonderful….
Elphaba tried her hardest to study for her quiz, but she couldn't concentrate. Every now and again her roommate would make a small, frightened noise, and it seemed that the green girl had temporarily lost her sacred ability to tune her out. She glanced at the clock. She had been studying (or trying to) for an hour. It was still early, but she decided to catch up on her sleep.
Elphaba rose from her seat and headed to the bathroom to get ready for bed.The blonde's eyes remained focused on the green girl, shivering slightly as she walked past where she sat. She struggled with herself, wondering what she was going to do. She could at least get ready for bed and attempt to go to sleep--that was the most she believed she could do. But…. Galinda hugged herself, trying to hold her tears back. The storms in Gillikin had never been this bad, and whenever she had trouble getting to sleep, there was always someone there to help her through the night. Now even that option wasn't available.
Galinda cringed at the thought that crossed her mind, but she was too desperate to let it pass. Before the door to the bathroom had a chance to close, the blonde took in a breath and hurriedly asked, "Miss Elphaba, could you please help me?"
Elphaba stopped in her tracks, hand still on the doorknob, resisting the urge to inspect her ears for anything to explain what she had just heard. Miss Galinda Upland, "Queen of Shiz", "Princess Bow Before Me", and "Socialite Extraordinaire", needed the help of the "Gangly Green Bean"? Elphaba shook her head, still shocked.
Like I said, never boring.
"What do you need, Miss Galinda?" Elphaba replied with an even voice, trying her best to be prepared for any of the thousand things that could come out of her roommate's mouth.
The blonde shifted slightly, her eyes darting away to look at something else before returning her gaze to the shock that was her roommate. Why did she even ask something like that? Surely she would be pushed to the side and be even further treated as a child by the green girl for this. But still…. She swallowed thickly, her sapphire eyes pleading with Elphaba even before she spoke. "I…. I-It's the storm. I'm terrified of them. And…." She paused, worrying at her bottom lip. The tears she tried so hard to force back suddenly leaked from the corners of her eyes. Finally she blurted, "I just want to feel safe again and I have no one else to turn to…."
Elphaba blinked a few times in surprise. That was one thing she hadn't been prepared for. If it had been a trap for another insult, or help by fetching another of her roommate's endless cosmetics, that she could have understood. But this…
She glanced up again at her roommate, even more shocked by what she saw. The tiny girl sat at her vanity, all traces of superiority gone. Little tears squeezed past her eyelids to leave rivulets down her face, and her bottom lip was caught between her perfectly white teeth. This was no joke. This was Galinda Upland, as an actual human being.
Elphaba took a tentative step forward, hesitated, then walked choppily to sit on the edge of Galinda's vanity. Her usual grace was left far behind, this situation was too awkward, and she moved as if fighting with herself for every step. She looked down at her hands, unable to meet her roommate's innocent gaze.
"What do you want me to do?" she said softly. She could not believe that she was doing this, actually helping the most popular girl in Shiz with an ego that extended to the moon…
Galinda stared up at the green girl, astonished at how willing she was despite her reluctance, and at that very moment she discovered just how uncertain she was about the entire situation. She thought about changing her mind, of pushing Elphaba away and back to her rightful place, but then the lightning flashed with such a brilliance it seemingly slashed through the dark, thick curtains. Before she could hold herself back, the blonde grasped her roommate's wrist as if it were an anchor and buried her face into her arm. She began to tremble, the rain beating all the more fiercely against the window pane as the storm intensified.
"Stay with me," she whispered, feeling Elphaba's body stiffen at her touch. She tightened her grip in case she tried to bolt. "I don't know what to do…."
Elphaba stared down, wide-eyed, at the mass of golden ringlets that had attached itself to her arm. Her entire body froze at Galinda's touch as an odd feeling flew through her. It only lasted for a fraction of a second, no longer than the flash of lightning that sent Galinda reeling in the first place. Frustratingly, the feeling did not last long enough for the green girl to dissect it and discover what it was. No one ever wanted to touch her; it was something she was not used to, so she chalked the strange sensation up to that.
A crash of thunder that made even Elphaba wince brought her back to reality. She was sitting on Galinda's vanity in the muddle of a storm, and the blonde was clinging to her arm like it was a lifeline.
"Stay with me," came the muffled whisper. "I don't know what to do…"
Elphaba didn't know what to do either. She opened her mouth a few times to speak, but words wouldn't come. Not that the girl would know what to say if they did come. Instead, Elphaba raised her free hand about an inch off of the vanity, hesitating before bringing it up to rest lightly on blonde curls.
At the feel of a hand lightly touch the back of her head--a touch just barely noticeable, and not due to the quantity of hair products she had used earlier that morning--Galinda sighed and pressed closer to the green girl. It was a perfect picture of abnormality; she knew without even looking at it clearly yet. The green freak comforting--or trying to comfort--the blonde beauty. It sounded oddly like a ruined storybook tale, with the exact opposite of what was expected happening, but she found herself not caring.
Several feelings were racing through her mind and heart, all of them difficult to discern. To her surprise, not one of them was linked to loathing. Frustration, yes, but that was centered at herself rather than Elphaba. Gratefulness, she supposed; she had never been grateful for another person being there for her. Especially not her roommate, who seemed so focused on other things. She sighed, at ease with identifying at least one of these swirling emotions. Now she had to figure out the other three million….
The thunder purred softly outside, as if content with the image of the two opposites finally together. Galinda fought the urge to curse it--it was better than the earlier roars that had terrified her so much. Still she held onto the green girl, her grip loosening slightly as to not perturb her, and she took in a breath. "Momsie would do this all the time," she softly confessed; maybe in doing this, Elphaba would stay with her longer. "When I was little and a storm came through, she would often hold me and sing to me until I fell asleep. I don't think I ever grew out of it." She flinched again at the flash of threatening lightning, and she fell silent.
Elphaba swallowed thickly.
"I… don't really sing. Sorry," she mumbled. Galinda's hair was soft beneath her green hand, and her lips twitched just slightly with a near smile at the blonde's daintily contented sigh. It was strange… not ten minutes ago they were having it out like… well, like an egotistical princess and an inferior, green ogre.
Elphaba stroked Galinda's curls without even realizing what she was doing, lost in thought. Now that she thought about it, she hadn't hated her roommate that much more than the default hatred she had for everyone. Sure, the blonde got under her skin from time to time, but it was worth it to watch her blow up when Elphaba said something clever.
The rain continued steadily, but the most recent growl of thunder seemed to be quieter, further off than the one before it. Elphaba snapped back to reality, eyes wide as she realized what exactly she was doing, what position she and her polar opposite were in. She cleared her throat, embarrassed, her cheeks flushing a dark green.
"Um, I think it's moving away now…" she muttered, trying to subtly wriggle out of Galinda's embrace.
The blonde felt Elphaba's body shift before her words sank into her suddenly clouded mind, and she frowned. She was actually getting comfortable. Why did Elphaba have to leave so soon?
Galinda, upon realizing just what in Oz she had been thinking, quickly released her roommate and jumped up from the vanity. Her cheeks painted a very bright pink, she averted her cerulean gaze from the girl in question. Her mind whirling to find an explanation, maybe an excuse for her childish behavior, she forced out, "Well, I…. I appreciate you helping." You appreciate the green thing? That's rich! That thought unleashed a sort of fury with herself, and she added in frustration, "But don't expect it to ever happen again. In fact, this never occurred. Understand?" Oh, what are Pfannee and Shenshen going to think…?
Elphaba looked down at her hands again, clearing her throat a second time in mortification. She nodded mutely at Galinda's thanks. Oh, sweet Lurline, what had she just been doing?! Not sixty seconds ago she had been sitting on Galinda's vanity, actually holding…
"Of course," she said with finality. "It never happened. And it never will again." Feeling slightly less awkward now that things were more or less where they belonged, Elphaba escaped to the bathroom to finish getting ready for bed.
Once the door closed behind the green girl, Galinda wanted to scream. What was she thinking? How could she allow herself to go that far as to let the green monstrosity touch her?? It didn't matter how vulnerable those damned storms made her! She knew her place in life; Elphaba, by now, should know her position several rungs down. What made her think that she could blur the thick line separating them?
But… despite her frustration--despite how much she loathed herself as well as the creature that was now safely locked behind a closed door--she actually felt at peace with herself. Like something that had been weighing her down was suddenly lifted…. And another feeling replaced it. Something… warmer? The blonde shook her head at the impossibility of that thought. How could she feel anything other than cold hatred toward someone who couldn't even feel?
Elphaba sighed with relief when she heard the bathroom lock click into place. She leaned back against the door, closing her eyes. She could feel, however, a colossal amount of uncertainty threatening to cascade down upon her, and she quickly busied herself with something else. Anything else. She mentally closed the lid on her overflowing emotions, containing them inside, where they should be kept. She told herself that she would deal with them later. Later, of course, meaning never.
It wasn't until she felt a familiar burning on her wrist that she realized what exactly she was doing. Galinda's container of strawberry bubble bath clattered to the floor as Elphaba jumped up to rush to her oil cabinet. She had been so preoccupied with what she was thinking that she hadn't realized what she was applying to her arm. Stupid, stupid… She grabbed her sandalwood-scented bathing oil, rubbing it vigorously onto the angry, pine-colored welt that had appeared on her wrist. She massaged the oil into her skin over and over until she was absolutely positive the strawberry smell was gone. The last thing she needed was for Galinda to notice, hey, Elphaba sorta smells like my bubble bath…
Sweet Oz, what was she even thinking?! Why, in Ozma's name, would her blonde roommate be smelling her?! Elphaba all but threw her oil back into her cabinet, slamming the door shut and bringing her hand up to rest on her forehead in frustration. What she needed was sleep. She wasn't even thinking straight, and that was something she could not afford. History quiz tomorrow, she reminded herself, history quiz.
After a few deep breaths to calm herself down, the green girl looked down at the floor, her eyes immediately finding the offending bottle of bubble bath. Not much had spilled; only a tiny pink puddle adorned the floor, so her roommate shouldn't notice that anything was missing. Elphaba carefully cleaned up the puddle, put the bottle back where Galinda always kept it, and said a silent prayer to no one in particular that she wouldn't notice. Then she swiftly emerged from the bathroom, being very careful not to look at her blonde roommate, and quickly went to bed.
Galinda quickly gathered her nightgown that was neatly set at the edge of her bed earlier that evening, waiting for the green girl to get out of their shared bathroom. She had to stop. She had to get rid of these confusing thoughts and get back into her regular routine before she exploded. "Just an expression," she told herself as an after-thought to her already frantic mind. The blonde paused, realizing what she had just done. Great, now Elphaba had her talking to herself. Thank Lurline she wasn't in the room. Otherwise she'd be on the floor laughing. Or just pestering her even more like the little green gnat that she was….
The bathroom door swung open with a bang, a whirl of gray and green tearing out the room it shielded. The blonde fought to keep herself from looking, from staring--she didn't think she'd be able to stand so much as a single glance in her direction after what happened. But the moment Elphaba rushed past her, Galinda's senses came on full alert. Mixed in with the usual smell of whatever it was she used in there was something different, something sweeter…. It was faint, but it was also familiar, and it caught the blonde completely by surprise.
Is that my bubble bath??
No, no, it was probably something else. Oz, she was thinking too much…. With a huff, Galinda made her way to the bathroom and quickly closed the door, where she was immediately wrapped in the smell of sandal-wood. Wondering what she did to piss the Unnamed God off, she quickly went through her nightly routine before following her roommate's lead and settling her in her own bed. This was going to be a long year….