I seem to be having a lot of these bouts of late-night inspiration. No idea why. Enjoy!

Who would have known that a life can change so quickly?

A life that, unless challenged, could go on forever, never knowing the potential joy that could be lurking close by

He certainly hadn't; at least he hadn't until it had happened.

Until that point, he had been perfectly happy to live his life as he had been: as a careless, playboy prince with money to burn and charm to boot. He was desired by every female that set eyes on him and there was no doubt in his mind that many of them had his picture pinned up somewhere, hidden from their parents, siblings, or even significant others. In a strange way, he felt a sort of shallow pride at this knowledge. Could he help it if the fairer sex found him irresistible?

His current girlfriend certainly fit the bill. Blonde, bubbly, and popular. That was how he liked them and that was how she was. Oh, rich too. Not a requirement, but certainly an added benefit.

Her roommate, however, was another story.

For some unknown reason, the girl fascinated him. She was nothing like the soft, fluttery girls that he was used to keeping company with. If it hadn't been for Galinda, he probably would have never given her a second glance. However, Elphaba was part of the package where his girlfriend was concerned, so he felt he should at least make an effort to get to know her.

He was beginning to regret that decision very quickly.

He stood with the infamous green girl in a forest on the west side of Shiz, a cage set between them and she was ranting about some comment he had made. What was it again?

"Do you think I want to be this way? Do you think I want to care this much? Don't you know how much easier my life would be if I didn't?"

He cut her off. "Do you ever let anyone else talk?"

She stopped then, turning dark eyes on him. They had lost some of their fight. "Oh, sorry... But can I just say one more thing?" He sighed and raised a brow, but offered her the floor. Her voice was quiet as she spoke, "You could have just walked away back there."

What did that matter? "So?"

"So," she murmured, a slight smile gracing her thin lips, "No matter how shallow and self-absorbed you tend to be..."

Was she mad? "Excuse me, there's no pretense here. I happen to be genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow. "

The smile remained on her face,"No you're not. Or you wouldn't be so unhappy."

The nerve of this girl! Who was she to think she could read him so well? They barely knew each other, for Oz's sake! He shook his head and began his retreat. "Fine, if you don't want my help…"

"No, I do!" Her hand on his halted his steps and, in that moment, no longer than a heartbeat, his world was turned on it's side. Hands touched, eyes met, and he felt his voice leave him. Whatever happened, she must have felt it to, for she said nothing, only met his eyes with a gaze that burned through him.

The cub cried and the spell was broken as Elphaba turned her attention back to him. "Poor little thing," she whispered, stroking the cub softly. "It's heart is trembling…" She turned her gaze back to him. "I didn't mean for…"

His gaze fell on her again as he asked the question that had hounded him from the start. "What did you mean to do?" and more softly, "Why was I the only one you didn't do it to?"
She turned to answer, only to notice the slight but on his left cheek. With a gentleness he hadn't known she possessed, she cradled his cheek in on hand and wiped the thumb of her other over it. "Oh look, you're bleeding... it must have scratched you."

Everything was lost to him but the softness of her hands on his face. "Yea... or maybe it scratched me." Who had known that the girl who had nearly bitten his head off for nearly running her over with his carriage had the skin of an angel? Suddenly he jerked away, as if doused by a bucket of cold water. What was he thinking? Once again acting without thinking, he leapt to his feet and away from her surprised form "I better get to safety... I mean the cub... get the cub to safety."

He turned before either could utter another word. He thought that he heard her call his name, but he kept walking.

Distance. He needed distance.

Time to reflect on that one fleeting moment. One gaze, one touch, one heartbeat. That was all it had taken to shake him to the core.

He saw Glinda in the distance, dressed to the nines in her pink finery. She smiled and waved, actions that he returned. That was what he needed. An afternoon with his popular, predictable girlfriend. She would send his heart racing for the right reasons and, in a heartbeat, he could forget about his encounter with her very unpredictable roommate.

He sighed as he watched the cub race to freedom, leaving the open cage next to him. He had a lifetime of heartbeats to live. Who was he to settle for one fleeting moment?

What if that moment was all that they had?

In a different part of the same forest, he held on tightly as she slept in his arms. Who had known that that very moment he had been eager to get away from would fill his thoughts for the next three years? Years spent in the comforts of palace life with a beautiful fiancé and an enviable position in the Wizard's service. Thing that had taken him years to attain, and he had given them up in a heartbeat.

All for her.

He would never regret his action, that much he was sure. It had only taken a moment for him to see reason in this madness and he had followed his heart. Two sets on eyes had widened, both of disbelief. He hated to hurt Glinda, but that was not who he was anymore. That man had disappeared years ago, in a single moment, from a single touch, in the beat of a heart, he had lost his heart to the one person he never expected.

Now as she lay in his arms, a similar smile crept up his lips as he remembered. Pressing a kiss to her forehead, he lay down beside her, allowing himself to be lulled to sleep by the rhythmic thumping of two hearts that now beat as one.