A/N: And so after half a year of procrastination, this story comes to an end. Obviously it did not end the way many of us wanted it to end, but once a story's on track, who possibly has the power to stop it? I think a huge thank you is due to the people who expressed interest in it (especially those who have been with it from the beginning. You will not be forgotten.) The fact that you're reading this right now means so much to me. Stay muchiful!
Maybe it was fate that told her to look through the cafe window, or maybe it was just a coincidence that something shifted inside the building that caught her eye. Either way, Elphaba couldn't help looking past the glass to the tenants of the cafe. It was neutral ground, neither too snobbishly rich, nor helplessly poor.
The first thing she saw was her reflection. Forty year old Elphaba hadn't aged much, or so she liked to think. Of course she had permanent dark circles under her eyes and lines forming at the corners, but that was about it. Her hair was still thick and lustrous and her body of the same frame.
The next thing she saw was that the cafe was full. Waiters and waitresses were bustling around. It was summer and the kids were out of school. This led her to what had caught her eye in the first place.
There in the far corner, was a family sitting around a small circular table. They were easily the happiest family in the entire room; basking in the luminous glow of each other's company.
The mother of the family had her back to the window but the blonde curls were hard to miss, as well as the sparkly blue dress and wand propped against the chair. Elphaba smiled to herself. Glinda's hair was too blonde, obviously dyed. Her number one fear had always been the grey that comes with aging.
Adjacent to Glinda was her beautiful daughter, who was in the process of growing out of childhood. Sixteen by now, Elphaba calculated. Rose, who had always looked a little more like Elphaba, was now looking more like Fiyero. Her features had softened and her bone structure wasn't so hollow anymore, the always straight hair had grown out longer and curlier and even from a distance, Elphaba could see the warm blue eyes that she loved so much. They were one of the only things Elphaba missed when she had first left Rose.
Finally, Elphaba's eyes were drawn to the third occupant of the table laughing heartily along with his wife. He was still handsome and still gentle and still everything she dreamed about.
But he was also turning his head and Elphaba ducked out of the way so she could avoid being seen. She had been standing there far too long anyway and today was a busy day. It was her job to retrieve a package for the new leaders Rebellion, which was still there, even though it was moving slow and intermittently. All that mattered was that it kept her busy.
As she walked down the street, Elphaba was certain she heard running footsteps behind her and then felt a hand slip into hers and stroke her palm tenderly. Elphaba slowed her pace until she stopped and took Fiyero's other hand.
"Hello." His eyes glittered with mischief.
"Hello," Elphaba replied.
"I take it everything's well?"
"Very well. How about you?" Elphaba replied politely.
"Excellent," Fiyero said enthusiastically. He squeezed Elphaba's hands. "We just came from a musical, Glinda wanted to celebrate Rose's grades. Soon enough she'll be applying to Shiz."
Elphaba nodded with a slight smile.
Fiyero laughed. "Not that she needed the grades. I'm sure Glinda could guarantee her a spot somehow, but she insisted on doing it herself. She's like you that way." They lapsed into silence and Fiyero pulled one of his hands away to rub the back of his neck. "It's like meeting a stranger. How long has it been anyway?"
"Nine years," Elphaba answered automatically.
"Wow." Fiyero chuckled nervously. "So what have you been up to?"
Elphaba shrugged. "Same as usual. Whether that's fortune or misfortune I've no clue."
"I see you're mysterious again."
"I see you're more clueless than ever," Elphaba retorted, but smiled along with it.
They shifted back and forth uncomfortably. "You know, I should really be going," Elphaba decided and gestured in the direction she had been heading before he stopped her. "Or I might never want to leave."
Fiyero nodded understandingly and waited in his position. It looked awkward, but he had an idea in mind. He still felt the need to make it up to Elphaba.
Elphaba was turning to go, but waited too. She watched him for a moment. "Was there anything else you needed?"
"I want you to leave first. Prove to yourself that you're strong enough to leave again." He stepped forward and then hesitated uncertainly, ultimately deciding on his initial notion. He took her hands once more and kissed her cheek.
Elphaba closed her eyes as his lips brushed her skin and trailed along the outline of the bone. "Goodbye Fiyero," she whispered.
He stood back and smiled encouragingly, waiting in his spot.
One step at a time, Elphaba retreated from Fiyero feeling more confident than she had not five minutes ago. She had survived nine years without him hadn't she?
Suddenly, being alone didn't feel so terribly lonely anymore.
With one more question burning on her tongue, Elphaba turned around, despite being quite a distance from Fiyero. She knew he was still there in the same spot. He would always be there. She cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, "Will we ever meet again?"
Fiyero smiled, she could see it light up his face and could feel it light up her heart. "Who can say?" he yelled back. "But we've been pretty lucky so far, don't you think?"