Title: Flying Free (formerly known as Wicked Swim Team or WST for short)
Rating: T for infrequent-but-occasionally-nasty language, tame sexuality, and disturbing themes (homophobia, violence, drowning, and other sundry unpleasantness, none condoned)
Pairing: Fiyero/Elphaba, eventually. Follows canon pairings.
Notes: I'm super sorry that this update has taken me so long, for any who are reading. I actually wrote this chapter a few months ago, and in my great amusement with this story, I forgot that others might want to be amused by it, too. As such I'd like to thank Dee/DeeplyShallow for reminding me to upload it, and other readers have her to thank as well. Hopefully the next chapter won't take so long. I hope you like it and that it's worth the wait. Without further time spent saying stuff, here's your latest update, in which Coach Dillamond and Galinda both have a problem, but not the same one, and we get to hear about someone you're all probably wondering what happened to. Thanks everyone for your support!
Chapter Three: He Thinks Red Goes with Orange
It was only the second day of practice, but the entire season was already ruinified.
Galinda had been widely known as the fastest girl at Shiz since ninth grade. Even other teams knew about her. She was fast and talentacious and popular and had never lost the 100 free to anyone. All the boys wanted to date her, all the girls wanted to be her, and she was always the most important person in the entire pool.
Until that horrible green witch-girl flew in on her broomstick and ruined everything.
Ever since Galinda's first year on Shiz's swim team, the first day of practice had been a showcase of her many talents, from freestyle to hair accessories. Her opportunity to show all the new additions – and to remind the old ones – that she was in charge. That no one beats Galinda Upland.
But yesterday, Coach Morrible hadn't even glanced at Galinda. She'd spent forever locked in her office with the awful green girl and then spent all the rest of her time obviously wanting to go back to talking to the green girl. And then she did go back to the green girl and dragged her out of the office and back to the pool and watched her swim in the last lane, just adorizing her while everyone else did laps.
It didn't make any sense. There was nothing special about the green girl, anyway – besides the green, of course, but that wasn't the good kind of special. So she was freakishly fast. So what? She was awkward and unpopular and she didn't even try to be fashionable. She wore old, unflattering clothes, no makeup, and that hair of hers hadn't been in style since Coach Morrible was in high school. Sure, the green was a huge problem, but with proper effort, it could be mitigated. She didn't even care.
And worst of all, now poor Galinda was stuck babysitting the green girl and her one-armed sister like some kind of freak circus. Was there any way out of this, or was she doomed to freak-by-association status for the rest of the season? Galinda didn't want to find out.
And while Coach Morrible ogled the green girl, the rest of them had had to deal with Coach Dillamond for the rest of practice, as if that weren't bad enough on its own.
They were dealing with him again today. Gross.
Galinda might like Coach Dillamond better if he'd learn to say her name right. He talked kind of funny because he was from somewhere far away from Florida, somewhere up north or something. Galinda didn't much care where. It wasn't that hard to say her name, no matter where you were from. Ga. Lin. Da. But every time he completely refused to say it right, she found herself discovering new things about him that annoyed her. Like his obsession with big, boring words. And all that awful old music he insisted upon playing at practice. And, of course, his nonexistent fashion sense – red and orange never belonged in the same outfit, ever, and if there was anyone who could pull off the Clark Kent glasses look… it wasn't him.
The fact that he was making them run, and that he was currently making Galinda "watch out for Elphaba and Nessa and make sure they don't get lost - thanks, Glinda" just added fuel to the fire.
"Galinda," she muttered, forcing herself not to roll her eyes.
Coach Dillamond adjusted those ridiculacious glasses and nodded. "Exactly. Glinda. Now remember, everyone: failure to complete the entire three-mile loop will result in more pushups than I care to assign."
Avaric rolled his eyes. "This is so stupid. The cross country team doesn't swim before they run."
"And if that were the first or even tenth time you'd made that argument, I would doubtless find it clever. As it is: I think you're in the thirties. Enough chatting, everyone. The sooner we begin, the sooner we'll be finished!"
Galinda turned to the green-thing – Elphaba, ugh – at her side and grated out, "And your first lesson as my new team buddy is: stay far, far away from Coach Dillamond because he's freakified. Also, he thinks red goes with orange."
Elphaba just stared back at her with those appalling dark eyes, so brown that they were almost black. It made Galinda feel like little bugs were crawling all over her skin.
"Of course, I bet you think that red goes with orange, so maybe you'll be great friends," Galinda amended brightly.
"I like him." Elphaba looked a little like she wanted to disappear. Or at least start running. Or at least stop talking.
Galinda smiled sweetly. "Yes, well."
"Something over here more interesting than running, girls?" Coach Dillamond asked.
At this angle it was impossible not to notice his impossibly-bad haircut. Or lack thereof, really, since it was shaggy and overgrown and Galinda was pretty sure it hadn't seen a pair of scissors in months.
"Oh, nothing," Galinda said, taking care to readjust her sweet smile.
"Well, 'nothing' can wait until after practice."
"Sorry," Elphaba said.
"Not a problem." Coach Dillamond smiled at her. Elphaba smiled back with a look that Galinda would have worn in her favorite store on the biggest sale of the year. Appropriate there. Absolutely disgustingified here.
Galinda wondered if her impending social suicide could really be called suicide if Coach Morrible had forced it on her. Social homicide? First-degree social life murder?
To Galinda's great relief, Elphaba wasn't nearly as good at running as she apparently was at swimming. She kept up with Galinda decently, which was pretty impressive, really, Galinda supposed, but she kept looking back for Nessa and bugging Galinda to slow down.
And more importantly, she didn't look nearly as good running as Galinda did. It was a fine art, looking stylish and graceful and appealing while running, and one that Elphaba obviously knew nothing about. The too-big white t-shirt and gray shorts that nearly reached her knees weren't exactly helping, either. Anyone would look bad next to Galinda under any circumstances, but today she was wearing her favorite pink sports bra and her practically-famous shorts that only someone with a body like Galinda's could pull off. Galinda almost felt bad about making Elphaba look even worse running next to her.
"So," Galinda ventured as they rounded a corner about halfway through the run. "Until we manage to find you a new team buddy, I might as well know: does it rub off?"
"Does what?" Elphaba said in a voice that might have been annoyed but was probably just out of breath. It was probably hard for her to keep up. Galinda was, after all, one of the best runners on the team. She had to be if she wanted to continue rocking these shorts.
"Well, you know." Galinda gestured to Elphaba's skin, which was difficult to do with poise while running, but she managed.
Elphaba didn't answer for at least a dozen tense strides. "This is stupid," she finally said, in a voice that was definitely annoyed now.
"Well, don't you think I have a right to know what it is?"
"Are you always this rude, or do you save it especially for me?"
"Oh, so I'm rude now? I'm not the one asking if someone's skin rubs off." Elphaba shot her a look that made Galinda worry wildly that she'd be struck at any moment with a bolt of lightning.
"You know, maybe if you weren't so sensitacious about it – "
"Maybe if everyone weren't such judgmental idiots about it – "
And they both stopped talking at Nessa's pleading voice that sounded a lot further away than it had … well, the last time Galinda had remembered hearing it. Which was, to be fair, awhile ago. Elphaba stopped mid-step so suddenly and clumsily that she almost fell over as she spun around to check for her sister. There was wild look of panic in her eyes that Galinda hadn't seen there before.
Galinda sighed heavily. Nessa couldn't have been more than a hundred feet down the block. Now she'd have to wait here even longer, and everyone would think she was slow.
So Galinda stood there with her hand on her hip watching Elphaba take off running back to Nessa, much faster than before, and then walk back with her slowly, saying stuff that Galinda couldn't hear and wouldn't have wanted to hear. Galinda could have been finished running by now if it weren't for the freak circus.
"Are you done?" Galinda asked charmingly as she met Elphaba's eyes with a sweet smile.
Elphaba answered her with the bugs-crawling-on-skin look again and said, "We have to slow down."
"Yes, of course," Galinda said, widening her smile just a bit as she imagined herself far away. Preferably somewhere with a country club, a pool boy, strawberry drinks with little slices of pineapple on the rims, and no green girls.
When they finally started running again, Galinda noted with dismay that even the hopelessly short boy from Galinda's homeroom had passed them. His name was Beck. Or Biq. Or something like that. Galinda was pretty sure she had the first letter right, anyway.
"Now see? That was much better. It's amazing what finding your center of balance can do, isn't it?"
A chorus of groans answered Coach Dillamond, but Galinda didn't add her voice to the rest. It would have been undignificacious. She was mostly hoping he wouldn't ask Elphaba to demonstrate again: if Galinda had to endure one more "Now, Elphaba does this naturally, but you can, too, if you…" she was going to do something decidedly undignificacious.
"Balance? Dude, this isn't yoga," Avaric said, and some boy whose name wasn't important enough for Galinda to remember snickered his agreement.
"Yeah, as if all the football players don't think swimming is girly enough," said the short boy from homeroom. Biq. No, maybe it was Bax. Bert?
Nessa glanced in Biq's direction and stifled a giggle. Galinda turned her eyes to the ceiling when no one was looking. They deserved each other.
"Can we please go home now?" Milla asked.
For an instant, a look crossed Coach Dillamond's face that reminded Galinda uncomfortably of the one Elphaba had worn the first day of practice, when Avaric and his minions were making hilarified jokes about grasshoppers or celery or something. Normally she wouldn't have remembered something like that, but it had made Galinda's skin crawl and was hard to forget.
Then Coach Dillamond sighed, caught the Clark Kent glasses from sliding off his nose with two fingers, and said, "I suppose that's all for today. Three hundred easy, everyone, and no chit-chat."
Just when Galinda was about to duck under the water, push off the wall and pretend she wasn't talking to Shenshen for the entire three hundred, Coach Dillamond broke through the chatter to add, "And I nearly forgot an important announcement. I want to draw to your attention the importance of exercising your civic duty next week, for all of you who are of age to do so."
"Dude, what?" Avaric laughed.
"Voting," Coach Dillamond clarified with a little smile. "I trust you do recall there is a very important election upon us."
"Like that's important," Pfannee said. "The hot guy's mom isn't even running again until next year."
"Though I am heartened by your fascination with Governor Tiggular's family, I am primarily concerned with a more bipartisan issue on the ballot. You're aware of the …" Coach Dillamond paused and made a face like he'd bitten into an apple and suddenly realized it had a worm in it. "… Family Protection Amendments, I assume?"
"Hey, that 'hot guy' is a swimmer, too, you know," Pfannee whispered. "I saw him on TV last year!"
"Yes, dummy. I know everyone hot." Galinda said. She was very well aware that Fiyero Tiggular with his amazingified body was the only swimmer who mattered besides Galinda. He was also the only reason to care about politics, and all in all a much better topic to think about than Coach Dillamond's rant.
Unfortunately, Galinda was broken oh-so-rudely out of her very interesting thoughts about Fiyero's abs when Elphaba's shrill voice cut through the crowd.
"They want to do what? Just because some couples happen to be the same gender?"
Coach Dillamond did the sad little smile again. "Yes, Miss Thropp. I'm afraid they do."
"Do they even understand what passing that kind of law would lead to? If same-sex couples aren't recognized as a family, they could lose everything. Their houses, their jobs, their families. How can they not get this?"
"My guess is that they do 'get it,' Miss Thropp."
"But that's horrible!"
"I'm inclined to agree," Coach Dillamond said.
"Well why isn't anyone doing something?" Elphaba glared challengingly at him. Her hand made a tight fist on the backstroke bar.
"Precisely why I bring the matter to your attention now. As I said, there are important bipartisan matters of human rights on the ballot next week, so it is critically important that all who are of age participate," Coach Dillamond said, addressing everyone now. Nobody looked as mad as Elphaba. Or mad at all, really. Mostly they looked annoyed. Mostly Galinda wanted to go back to thinking about Fiyero's abs.
"I'm seventeen," Elphaba said, in a voice that hated being seventeen more than anything in the entire world.
"I do appreciate your passion nonetheless, my dear," Coach Dillamond said. "And perhaps there are ways you could help even so."
"Tell me," Elphaba demanded.
"Very well. After practice. Any other interested parties are free to join. For now, I believe you all have a three hundred to swim."
There were no other interested parties.
At least, none that Galinda saw. She was keen to get back to the locker room to work on her hair and to get away from Elphaba, so she didn't stay too long to see. Normally, Galinda and her friends spent a good bit of time in the locker rooms after practices and meets, but she stayed even longer today. She wanted to give Elphaba enough time to rant with Coach Dillamond about politics and orange-matched-with-red and whatever other freakified things freaks like them talked about.
All in all, Galinda was none too pleased to emerge from the locker room post-deep conditioning treatment to the sight of Elphaba seething at Avaric and two of his minions. Galinda didn't see people seethe too often, but this was a distinct example of seetheification.
"You don't get it," Elphaba was ranting, her green face flushed deep olive and her hair still drenched and clinging to her back. "It's not about special privileges. It's about treating them like people! Which is obviously too difficult for you to understand."
"No, see, what you don't understand – probably because you're a freak like them – is that I don't have to rearrange my life just so other freaks can mess up the world," one of Avaric's minions said. He wasn't very cute.
"That's the dumbest argument I've ever heard," Elphaba said. "You don't have any proof that they're 'messing up' anything, and nobody asked you to rearrange your life. Just stop going out of your way to make other people's lives miserable."
"If they don't want to act normal, they shouldn't be surprised when they don't get treated normal," Avaric said reasonably.
"I can't believe I'm hearing this. What if I decided you weren't normal?"
"You don't get to decide that, green bean. You're the freak."
"Oh, I can get creative." Avaric's other minion, a big guy who was even uglier than the first, put his hand on the wall behind Elphaba and grinned in a way that pinged every one of Galinda's danger senses, and she had finely honed ones. And if Galinda didn't rescue that stupid little celery stick, she had no hope of ever getting back on Coach Morrible's good side.
So she swept between them, smiled winningly at Avaric and the minions, and said, "And this was a lovely chat, but my team buddy has an appointment, so we'll have to continue it later. Who knows?" She locked eyes with Avaric and gave him her best smoldering look. "I might actually listen to you."
Galinda grabbed Elphaba's gym bag with one hand and Elphaba's elbow in a death grip with the other. Then she dragged her out of the lobby, ignoring Elphaba's protests until they got through the doors that led to fresh air and gathering darkness.
"I did not ask you to do that," Elphaba spat.
"Hush. You have to drive your sister home. You're welcome for saving you, by the way." Galinda rummaged through the bag in her hand until she found what she was looking for and pressed it into Elphaba's arms. "Now, here are your hideodious clothes and the keys to your hideodious car. Take them and your hideodious sister and leave me alone!"
Elphaba ignored the clothes. "You didn't save me! I was trying to convince those idiots that they were being bigots!"
"Yes, we'll put that on your social tombstone. Now the next time you want to yell at Avaric's oafs, do me a favor and wait until after I've convinced Coach Morrible to de-buddify us!"
"Oh, believe me. I can't wait for that day," Elphaba said, locking eyes with Galinda, and this time the bugs-crawling-on-you feeling was about fifty times worse.
"Well, if you want it to happen, stop making a fool of yourself with these ridiculous rants of Dillamond's, and maybe I can convince her that you don't need my advice anymore."
"Maybe you should listen to those 'rants.' Does it not bother you one bit that ten percent of our state is already being treated like second class citizens – and that it could get worse next week? Think of ten people you know, Galinda. Which one does the government not recognize as a person?"
"Oh stop that. I have to hear it enough from Coach Orange-and-Red. And for the last time, put your clothes on."
Elphaba shot her another death glare but pulled another one of those awful big t-shirts over her head, movements stiff and jerky and deliberate. She kept her eyes on Galinda while she stepped into her equally-awful long shorts without even taking off her flip-flops. Those bugs were having a block party on Galinda's skin.
"Fine. But we are not done talking about this. And I'm not done fighting for it."
Galinda rolled her eyes and didn't even bother with a sweet smile. "Oh, I'm sure you're not. See you tomorrow, buddy."
"It's been a pleasure. Buddy."