AN: To those waiting for another chapter of Unadulterated Something, please don't kill me! Ch. 15 is currently in beta and will probably require a bit more revision before it sees the light of day, but as I am always reassuring you, I have not and will not abandon the story. In the meantime, here is something a bit darker and more psychological that my brain regurgitated. It touches on some themes I wanted to explore deeper in US, but seemed out of place. Huge thank you to Ridiculous Mavis for the beta on this.
Warnings and disclaimers: Contains profanity and crude discussion of sex, indecent exposure, brief violence and hints at eating disorders which could possibly be triggering to those who have struggled with them. In other words, the "M" rating is not the "fun" kind of "M." I do not own Wicked or the characters contained therein. Do not read while driving or operating tiktok machinery.
The Thropp mansion was in a sad state of disrepair when the contractors were summoned: so much that they could scarcely believe it was inhabited by the most prestigious family in all of Munchkinland. The ancient floorboards were worn and weathered; yellowed paper peeled from cracked plaster walls. Moths had feasted on the curtains and cobwebs hung untouched in every corner.
"I admit, I haven't kept up with the place since my wife died," Governor Frexspar offered, his tone apologetic. "For a while it seemed as if any repairs would fall victim to little Elphaba's teeth anyway." At this statement, the two workmen exchanged puzzled glances. "But she's nearly grown now," the Governor continued wistfully as if chewing on woodwork was a perfectly normal pastime for any toddler, "her and her sister both. In just two years they'll be off to University, leaving me alone in this dreadful place. I do not think that I can bear it; not in its current state. It's high time for renovations."
Much of the woodwork inside the mansion was in dire need of replacement, the men observed. The great spiral staircase would have to be almost entirely rebuilt. The balusters supporting the rail were indeed marred with what appeared to be the imprints of small teeth: not human teeth, but far more sharp. Roggery, a Munchkin of the typical short stature with a crooked nose and pock-marked face, surveyed the damage, pressing the tip of a chubby finger to the indentations. "Do you really think she did this?"
Bubert, a taller bearded man, nodded gravely. "That girl's not entirely human. She can't be. She is something else."
The girl in question stood just around the corner, barefoot in a dull gray dress that was fast becoming too short for her, its hem reaching just above her green ankles. She listened to the exchange disinterestedly. The contractor's sentiments were nothing she hadn't heard before; in fact they were expected. However, she was waiting for the most opportune moment to stroll past the men. Let them say more about how she unnerved them first and she would unnerve them even more with her well-timed appearance. Yes, she thought as her lips curled to a smirk. It was a game she played often and also the reason her father had no household staff to speak of except for her sister's Nanny, stubborn woman that she was.
"It's just our luck, Rogsy," Bubert continued, "here we thought we'd be working in a household with blossoming teenage girls, but one's a horror and the other is a cripple. A pretty little thing, but still a cripple. I can't help but wonder which girl's looks more so favor the Governor's dearly departed wife." The man gave a vulgar laugh. His tone lacked the hint of pity which Elphaba had learned would usually follow such remarks about her and Nessa's respective… afflictions. These men were of a harsher breed than her father's usual dinner guests, though they were sure to startle just as easily.
"Heard Melena Thropp was actually quite lovely, so lovely all the men in the county were in her skirts," replied Roggery in amusement. "Any beast could have fathered the children. The crippled one may be pretty, but her voice is just as atrocious as her sister's appearance if not more so. I'd love to stuff a sock in that pouty little mouth of hers." Elphaba had to stifle a laugh at the assessment of her sister. This conversation was becoming amusing after all. Perhaps she would allow it to continue.
"Oh, I'd like to stuff in something else entirely," Bubert chuckled. "I'm sure a good fucking would loosen her up some. I'd just shove her face-down into a pillow to keep her from crying out for the Unnamed God. I'd tell her to give up, because his dick isn't as big as mine!"
Immediately, the green girl ceased to be amused. She took a sharp breath as her spine straightened and her shoulders tensed. She hadn't batted an eyelash at the remarks on her mother's promiscuity. Those were as familiar to her as comments on her unnatural coloring; she even heard such things cross her father's lips at times. Melena seemed little more than a storybook character to her anyhow; a distant memory hardly worth defending. But Nessa… Nessa was different. Nessa was flesh and blood, innocent and fragile as a bird, in body if not in spirit. She did not deserve to be spoken of in such a way, no matter how annoying her voice or her blind devotion to an improbable deity. The older Thropp was thankful that Nessa was taking tea on the patio with Nanny, being spared the vulgar exchange currently happening on the staircase.
"With her condition I doubt she'd even be able to feel you inside her," the Munchkin replied as Elphaba dug her chewed nails into the palms of her balled fists. She'd heard enough. It wasn't a game anymore. She was ready to step out into sight and shout at the men for their indiscretions. She would make them leave the mansion at once and she'd take all the blame from Frex for their dismissal. It would surely be worth whatever punishment he could dole out to keep these scrubby creatures away from her sister.
But in spite of all of Elphaba's fury, it was suddenly exceedingly difficult to move, as if anger had rooted her to the floor where she stood, a paralyzing gravity. She felt a chill run down her spine; she knew what this sensation meant. Soon the air would crackle with static. Pots and pans would clatter to the floor of the kitchen or the glass in all of the windows would shatter. Perhaps, if she were lucky, a set of wrenches would become airborne in the direction of the contractors. But she had little control over exactly how her quirk chose to manifest itself at any given time; all she could do was wait and seethe and see.
"Perhaps you should be the one to deliver the fucking then," Bubert countered, unaware of the magic that was mounting around him. "She'd be none the wiser to your, ahem, shortcomings. Unless you'd rather have your cock gnawed off altogether by the green one." Elphaba almost didn't hear the quip over the cyclonic howl that rang in her ears. But she heard it and then she listened for the response despite her better judgment. The howling subsided with her confidence until it was nothing but a low rumble.
"I doubt she'd do much gnawing," Roggery replied cockily. "A girl like her would easily recognize my unzipped trousers as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm sure she'd be able to muster up an appropriate display of gratitude. After all, there are few men with my sense of adventure. Green or not, though, you have to admit she's got a nice little figure to her and it would look doubly nice bent over this here railing."
Even the rumbling ceased. The magic left as quickly as it came, leaving Elphaba's stomach firmly lodged somewhere in her throat. She struggled to inhale but her lungs would not consent. Her heart thumped hard against her ribcage. Her usually sharp mind seemed dulled, her senses blurred, by the terror and revulsion which surged through her. But she continued to hear every word the men spoke, clear as bell through the fog of her panic.
"Such a…charitable sense of female beauty you have, Roggsy," Bubert laughed. "Either that, or it's just been that long since that tiny member of yours has been anywhere warm and moist."
"I wonder if the warm, moist places on her are as green as the rest of her skin," the Munchkin mused.
"The color would be the least of my concerns," Bubert replied. "I bet her nether regions have their own set of teeth!"
Elphaba could not remain where she was for another moment; she could not bear to hear another word. Not when each one seemed to scald her like errant raindrops. She fought against her paralysis, gangly limbs flailing, and scampered back down the hall to the safety of her and Nessa's bedchambers. She winced at the clamor of her feet; she was certain the men must have heard her retreat and were having a good laugh over it.
From the time she chewed her way out of the crib in her parents' suite, Elphaba always shared a room with Nessa, despite the large number of chambers in the mansion left uninhabited. Such was the lot of a caretaker. However, the role was not entirely imposed upon her – looking after the younger girl was something that came almost as naturally as breathing. Elphaba did not mind the lack of personal space, for she was quite adept at retreating inside herself even in the closest of proximity to her sister.
For once, though, she was glad to be truly alone. She let her body slump back against the heavy wooden door as her slender fingers drew closed the bolt of the lock. Frexspar didn't tolerate locked doors in his home, but amidst the mountains of paperwork in his office upstairs, he would be none the wiser to this one. And Nessa would not return until she was ready to retire for the evening. So, the barrier was more symbolic than anything: a talisman to replace the ones of verdancy and stoicism which Elphaba usually brandished. Stoicism was, in fact, crumbling beneath the pair of verdant hands pressed to a heaving diaphragm. The green girl's normally level head was spinning from lack of oxygen; from lack of ability to understand what had just transpired. Because, for all the things she had been branded as in her sixteen years – from aberration to nonentity – she had never been reduced to a sexual commodity.
As a rule, the green girl tried not to think of sex. Rather, she did not think of it in any context which involved her. She strove to see herself as a nonsexual being, despite the hormones which surged through her the same as any teenager. This blatant denial of desire had nothing to do with notions of virtue like the ones to which Nessa might aspire or even a will to avoid her own mother's sordid reputation. It was just that it was far simpler to pretend that she was above such basal human longings than to admit that they frightened and confused her. Elphaba was practically a stranger to touch. To want or to need it might break her. She wasn't even sure who she would conceivably want or need it from. There was no mortal vessel – man or woman – to whom she could attribute the strange, occasional ache between her legs.
The mere notion that anyone would think of her in such a way was laughably unthinkable – yet the unthinkable had just happened in the most demeaning and dehumanizing way. She was broken down into the sum of her parts – her notably green parts, of course. What had she done to warrant this?
Elphaba moved away from the door and stood up straight, taking a rare scrutinizing glance into the full-length mirror which had been hung purely for Nessa's benefit. She glanced at female form that was developing without her consent beneath her green skin. Elphaba was not as graciously endowed as her sister – and thank Oz for that – but the swell of her small breasts was still noticeable beneath the thin fabric of her summer dress. She pressed her fingertips to her ribs beneath them, frowning as her palms slowly followed the slender hourglass curve of her torso. They came to rest on her hips, which were perhaps slightly more ample than they had been the previous year as the meager stores of fat on her body judiciously rearranged themselves, marking her as mature and fertile. A "nice little figure," according to the Munchkin.
It struck her that if she had a blade, she would cut it all away – all evidence of womanhood – leaving only sharp edges and hard angles that no one would want to press against in mockery or conquest.
Elphaba did not take her dinner with Nessa and Frex that night. When Nanny came to fetch her, she feigned a headache so that she could continue to lie in her bed, staring at the cracks in the stucco ceiling.
Elphaba was acting strange – well, even stranger than usual. The past two mornings, Nessarose had awakened in the embrace of long green arms; her sister was sleeping curled against her. "Elphie?" she asked fretfully the first time, causing the green girl to rouse with a start that was terribly unlike her. Elphaba was never startled; never nervous. And she was never still asleep by the time that Nessa woke. It only took seconds for her to regain her composure, but those odd seconds were enough for Nessa to gauge that something was amiss.
"You had a night terror," Elphaba said coolly, by way of explanation. "I came to comfort you as I always do." But Nessa recalled no bad dreams, her nights having been blissfully free of them for some several years. This was, of course, owing to her devotion in the Unnamed God. Because once one entrusted their soul to him, there was nothing left to fear. It was obvious, then, that Elphaba was the one suffering from some dark plague of the conscience. Perhaps, she had finally discovered her own soul – and realized the mortality of it.
Nessa reached out a hand, as if to reassure her, but Elphaba was already on her feet, dusting herself off and searching frantically for Nessa's stockings. It made the younger girl indignant; Elphaba hadn't prepared her clothes before bed, nor had she tutored her in mathematics as she usually did in the evenings. It was Nanny who had undressed her and put her into her nightgown that night – Nanny, whose hands were clammy and arthritic – while Elphaba lay like a lump in her own sheets. Elphaba who was never sick and never seemed to sleep.
"Your sudden lack of focus is rather unseemly," Nessa scolded.
"Everything about me is rather unseemly," Elphaba spat back. "Have your powers of perception failed you so miserably for the past fifteen years?" For a creature who had so recently been seeking comfort, she was as bristly as ever.
The second morning, Nessa didn't even bother to ask why Elphaba was in her bed. She only responded to the realization by giving her sister a hard jab in the ribs. The green girl gave a pitiful, pained cry in response to the touch, clasping her arms tight over her chest. She fussed over Nessa when she came to. "Are you all right?" she asked, hands fluttering over the indignant girl as she checked her over for Oz-knows-what.
"Whatever demons are making a home in that unrepentant heart of yours, they are your own," Nessa said harshly. "If you were wise, you would pray with me today."
Facing proudly forward in her chair, the astute Nessa did not however notice the way her sister's spine straightened when they passed the staircase, where Bubert and Roggery were sawing away some of the old wood. She did not hear how the older girl's breathing quickened in trepidation. "I for one will be glad when they are gone," Nessa sad, referring loftily to the contractors. "All their hammering and yammering disrupts my meditations."
Perhaps, Bubert didn't hear Nessa's words over his own hammering and yammering, for he tipped his hat to her as Elphaba rolled her past.
A late summer storm roared outside the window, the wind through the trees casting shadows over the walls of the bedroom. They seemed to dance menacingly in the direction of Nessarose's bed, but the pious girl slept like a stone, oblivious to her own vulnerability. It made Elphaba twitch and writhe nervously in her sheets, but she refused to be caught sleeping in her sister's bed for the third night in a row. Oblivious as she could be to some things, Nessa had a keen intelligence about her and she could tell that the green girl was coming unhinged. Elphaba could not abide the sudden transparency.
They had slept in this room for their entire lives and no harm ever befell either girl in the darkness. But Elphaba tossed and turned in her sheets, eyes fixed upon the knob of the door. She imagined a shadowy figure on the other side, coming for her sleeping sister. The fear was unfounded; the builders had taken leave for the evening at sundown and were probably now being just as vulgar as ever at the local tavern. Yet Elphaba couldn't help but imagine that shadowy figure coming for Nessa even long after the construction on the mansion was finished. Perhaps he'd be coming for the rest of her life.
He'd be coming for Elphaba, too. It was a kinship that Nessa might never know they shared. Of course, he wanted different things from each respective girl. For Nessa, Elphaba feared rape. For herself, she feared even a licentious glance. She doubted any man would ever be able to get his hands on her for long – she was a wriggly creature, and not at all adverse to clawing or biting when the situation called for it. Plus there was that strange magical quirk of hers; for all she knew her nether regions would grow teeth if ever pressed to do so. But the Munchkin Roggery's simple words made her feel so profoundly ill; violated and exposed as if he had just laid waste to her virginity.
She was now painfully aware of how she was marked: not only by greenness, but by gender. Elphaba never thought of her father as a protector, but she was beginning to realize that perhaps Frexspar had succeeded in shielding his daughters from the harshness of that particular reality until now: a reality which Melena had undoubtedly struggled against every day.
Stomach acids burnt in the green girl's throat: her body's punishment for another meal barely touched. Nanny had eyed her suspiciously as she stabbed idly at her food with her fork, pushing it around the plate instead of eating. The old woman had, however, attributed the girl's lack of appetite to the butterflies of a youthful infatuation: surely, Elphaba was besotted with some boy, though where she'd even encounter such a boy was entirely dubious. Elphaba rolled her eyes dramatically at the suggestion, but Nanny prattled on; "As surly as you are, you are still your mother's daughter, and for as much as you've resisted, you're becoming a woman."
Sleep did not come easy.
And so, in the morning after she dressed Nessa for the weekly Unionist service that the younger girl attended with Frex, Elphaba succumbed to yet another totally uncharacteristic behavior. After her father had wheeled Nessa out the front door in her finest clothes, Elphaba returned to her bed, pulling her blanket over her eyes to shield out the sunlight.
When she woke, he was there, moving toward her bed. The Munchkin. The fly of his trousers was undone; he clasped his grotesque member in gnarled hands. She gave a hiss like a cat, rising up to her heels on the mattress, arms extended in front of her to prevent his advance. Her first instinct was to run from him: to leap off the other side of the bed, dashing out the door, past the staircase and out of the mansion entirely. She could climb the tallest tree on the property; she'd undoubtedly blend quite nicely with the foliage. Perhaps she could take root and become part of it. But another thought replaced the desire for flight, positioning itself front and center in her mind. He has no right.
"You have no right," she spoke aloud. Roggery was just as surprised by the words as she was, his jaw falling slack, fingers stilling.
"You have no right," she screeched, voice edging on madness as she flashed her teeth. "Take that stumpy, deformed sausage of yours and remove it from my presence before I bite it off and feed it to the crows!"
Roggery looked uncomfortable then, shielding his manhood with his hands as he took a step backward from her. Something in Elphaba snapped, and it was she who was advancing on him, just as she would have that fateful day in the hallway if he had merely insulted her. The effect was just the same as it would have been; the Munchkin retreated from the room, footsteps echoing through the empty mansion. She was not far behind him, but she purposely hung back. Instead of breaking for the front door, Roggery foolishly made way for the staircase – precisely what she hoped he would do. She was swift on her feet then; at the top, she caught him by the collar of his shirt. She yanked it hard. The Munchkin turned toward her, sputtering choked apologies.
"You know," she said appraisingly, "you do have a rather nice little figure to you. And it would look doubly nice bent over this here railing."
With a strength she didn't know she had – perhaps it was the magic – she shoved the Munchkin into just that position, easily sidestepping his legs which flailed behind him, desperate to regain their purchase on solid ground. "Long way down, isn't it?" Elphaba asked, savoring her triumph for just a moment before she sent him tumbling over the banister. A harsh crack reverberated through the air as his body hit the floor: the sound of a spine being snapped.
"Elphaba!" Nessa's shrill voice pierced her eardrums; her family had returned to discover the atrocity she just committed. Guilt surged within her immediately. She had taken this too far.
"Elphaba!" She awoke with a start and sat up in bed, confused and disoriented. "I can no longer tolerate this laziness! I understand that you are disinclined to worship with Father and I, but to spend the morning of the Sabbath sleeping? I pray for you all the time, but I fear that no amount of prayer will cause the Unnamed God to have mercy upon your soul if you continue to behave in such an irreverent manner!" The younger Thropp removed one of her shoes and chucked it across the room, straight into Elphaba's shoulder.
In response, Elphaba leaned back casually on her elbows, stretching out her long torso. She did her best to level a scowl at Nessa but the corners of her mouth quirked up in amusement. "Nessie, you just interrupted me from the most lovely dream…"
"I do not wish to know what constitutes as lovely in that wicked mind of yours!" Nessa exclaimed. "Besides, I thought you didn't dream."
"What, me claim something untrue for the simple purpose of getting under your skin? My dear sister, I assumed you thought better of me!" Elphaba smiled.
Elphaba looked at herself in the full-length mirror, smoothing down the jacket of her Shiz regulation uniform. The catalog she and Nessa received after their acceptance to the University offered a plethora of choices: it seemed the only requirement was that one's attire had to be some combination of navy blue and cream. Or, in this case, just navy. She was pleased with the way the dark garment hung, boxy and shapeless over her narrow frame. She folded her arms, studying her reflection.
Though it would not appear so to any outsider, the green girl's appearance was just as meticulously cultivated as any society girl's, only it was cultivated to be purposely unappealing. She looked imposing – all dark spectacles and pointed chin; the sharp edges that she aspired to. Her fairly recent vegetarianism had political implications, of which she wholeheartedly approved, but it also lent itself remarkably well to other ends. Her long, dark hair was pulled back into a utilitarian braid and hidden beneath a knitted cap. She looked serious; scholarly – all trappings of femininity hidden or removed. Except for the dress, but she supposed that was unavoidable.
"Is that vanity I see peeking out?" Nessarose half-teased from the other side of the room.
"No, it's only, this feels real now," Elphaba responded with a smile of genuine mirth. And it was true. Her father's new valet had already carried all the girls' luggage down to the carriage which would take them to the train station. Their beds were stripped of sheets. The room was bare.
Of course, they would share a room in the dorms, where Elphaba would continue to watch vigilantly over her sister. She needn't fear for herself anymore, though; her defenses were entirely perfected.
"We haven't the time to linger whilst you admire yourself in the mirror," the younger girl teased. "We had better go down to breakfast now, or we will miss the train!"