The hustle and bustle of the streets strikes him as oddly out of place in the glorious green city. He sidesteps a hunchbacked man lugging a barrel, secretly relieved he isn't wearing his uniform, and sloshes around in the gutter. There was never slush in the Vinkus.

He crosses the street to a promising little shop and rests his forehead against the glass. Gazing at the colorful pieces within, he looks for "a precious Lurlinemas present for his precious fiancée", in the words of Morrible. Well. In his words, this is ridiculous. He could be at his desk, sorting out important Gale Force papers. He could be out in the training field, learning how to use those new rifles. He could be in his bed, catching up on much-needed sleep. He could be moping about the café, thinking of who he wished was sitting across from—oh. He definitely isn't going to think about that.

Digging his fingers deeper in his pockets, he closes his eyes and feels reassurance in the silky fabric. Breathing, not thinking. That's all. He was never cut out for thinking. The jangling of horse harnesses jolts him from the emptiness, and he sighs. What is he struggling against, anyway? Galinda's high pitched giggles and the booming guffaws of Morrible form a cacophonous ringing in his ears. It's not that he doesn't like her or anything. After all, what could he have against the pretty, charming society woman? She had been the perfect girl for him at Shiz. But he isn't that person anymore, and nobody seems to realize it.

He kicks at the worn cobbles and wonders if he should go in. Something pink would probably work. Or something clear and crystal, a symbol of her maturity from her Shiz years. She'd like that. He frowns.

A tall figure steps out from the narrow walkway beside the shop, swathed in a black cloak that reaches right to a pair of black boots. He stops for a moment, staring. Could it be? She wouldn't be as ridiculous as to run around the city, during the holidays, with a group of soldiers whose sole purpose is to find her. And besides, the figure's head is covered with a hood, not that pointed hat from all the descriptions on her "Dangerous Terrorist" signs. But the way the figure moves—like a shadow, smoothly slipping into another alley—causes him to turn from the beckoning glass door. Obviously, he reasons, it would be stupid to wear that in public. The hat is the very image of her, the very symbol of her defiance.

She moves quickly, but he follows her with the deft steps only befitting his two years of intense training and his past life of tagging along with the men in the grasslands.

What will happen when he catches up with her? His voice would come out roughly and he'd cough and splutter, and he'd feel like he was back at school all over again.

No… it wouldn't be awkward, he decides. First he would convince her that she isn't being arrested so she would stop looking at him like that, and then he would take her back to his barracks—oh, no… to some abandoned warehouse, and she would give in to his incessant prodding and talk about what she has been doing, how she has been.

She would demand to hear about her sister and whether she suffered on her own. Maybe she would ask about Galinda (because he knows their parting didn't happen the way they were all told.) Maybe—maybe she would let him hold her hand and brush her beautiful hair back from her face and ask why? with all the sincerity in the world.

He doesn't know what would—could happen after that, but he knows what should.

Because no matter how many days he spends being led around by Glinda and Morrible in a haze of pomp and glitter, the nights he spends dreaming about her are all that ever fills his head. And he knows, with certainty, that she is the only thing he can see something real in, something—

The alley abruptly turns into a street, leaving him blinking in the unexpected rays of sunlight and stumbling into his quarry.

"Sorry! Sorry, I was just—"

The figure turns around. His breath catches.

It isn't her.

The next day he doubles the force out to capture the Wicked Witch.