AN: And yet another story. Because I felt like torturing some characters, then have others save the day, etcetera etcetera.
General disclaimer: We all know I don't own Wicked or any of the characters in it.
Chapter 1. Capture
She was hovering in the air above the Gillikin forest. She was too close to the ground and she knew it; people might spot her. But she didn't care. Not anymore. Not now that everything she had ever loved had been taken away from her. In fact, she even wanted people to see her. Why else would she be flying around on her broomstick in full daylight?
She circled above the forest until she spotted the dark green uniforms of the Gale Force between the trees and a wry smile curled her lips. The Gale Force. The very same people who had killed the man she loved would now get to kill her. It seemed oddly fitting somehow.
She dived towards the ground and landed rather ungracefully with a loud thump. She tossed her broom aside, crossed her arms and waited. She knew the men had heard her; they would appear any minute now and arrest her, or kill her, or whatever.
When they did appear, however, mere clock-ticks later, they stopped to stare at her in surprise for a long moment until she raised an eyebrow. 'Well? What are you waiting for? Are you going to arrest me or not?'
'Do you want us to?' one of the soldiers demanded in a voice that went up slightly in the end and quivered a little. Probably a newbie.
She shrugged. 'It doesn't matter what I want anymore.'
That seemed to confuse them, and they just stood there, looking uncomfortably at one another for a moment, until she snapped, 'For Oz's sake, just arrest me already!' She even held out her hands to make it easier for them.
They eyed her warily now, clearly expecting a trap; but when they pulled her arms behind her back and fastened her wrists together with a rope, they seemed to regain their confidence. 'We've captured the Witch!' one of them shouted, and the other finally burst out cheering and laughing, clapping each other's shoulders. 'The Wizard is going to make us rich for this!' another soldier predicted, brightening up at the prospect. Elphaba merely snorted, but otherwise kept silent as they dragged her out of the forest and towards the place where they had left their horses with two other Gale Force members. The eyes of those two men nearly bulged out of their heads at the sight of her. 'You found her?!'
'Well…' The voice of the Gale Force Captain trailed off as he tried to organise his mind. 'Um… I suppose she found us.'
Elphaba threw her head back and let out a spine-chilling cackle. At least six Gale Forcers immediately pointed their guns at her. 'Silence, witch!'
'Or what?' she spat recklessly. 'You'll kill me? Go on ahead if you want to!'
A few of them looked ready to, but the Captain shook his head. 'None of that! We'll take her to his Ozness – he'll decide what to do with her.' He tied her to the saddle of one of the horses and prodded her back with his gun. 'Walk. We're going back to the Emerald City.'
Hours later, she found herself in a dark, damp and cold cell in the dungeons beneath the Emerald City.
She hadn't expected anything less; she had, however, expected a bit more. Why hadn't they done anything to her? They hadn't touched her, hadn't tortured her, hadn't even taken her to the Wizard – they had just took her with them in silence and dumped her here in this Oz forsaken place. Quite frankly, she was feeling disappointed. She knew that was insane, but it was true nonetheless. She needed it. She needed something. She wanted them to try and do something to her, so that she could fight back and have an excuse to scream and bite and scratch like the wicked witch she was. She wanted them to take her to the Wizard and Morrible, so that she could spit at them everything that was on her mind and maybe even wrestle herself free long enough so that she could seriously hurt either of them. She wanted them to torture her, because the physical pain would distract her from her emotional pain. Now, however, she was left alone in the darkness with nothing to do but think – the very thing she wanted to avoid right now.
How had she ended up like this? When had her life taken a turn for the worst? The day her mother had died? The day she fell in love with Fiyero? The day she had defied the Wizard?
The day I was born.
She lied down on the cot in the corner of the cell, facing the wall, curling up into herself, allowing herself this small display of weakness. It served her right to be here. She had wrecked the lives of everyone she knew. Everyone she had cared about had either betrayed her or died because of her. She deserved nothing less than death, although perhaps even death was too mild a punishment for the horrors her existence had brought upon the ones she loved.
Nessa was dead. Crushed by a house. She still suspected Morrible to be behind the twister, but even that didn't matter anymore. It wasn't like she could do anything to prevent the old hag and the Wizard from plummeting Oz into misery. And even if she could, she didn't want to. Not anymore.
And then there was Glinda. Glinda, who had betrayed her. She still couldn't quite grasp that fact, but she knew it to be true and it broke her heart. Glinda, who had once been her best and only friend, had betrayed her; had told Morrible to use her sister to capture her. She had seemed sorry, but what did that matter? By then it had been too late. Glinda had been mad, of course, she could understand that. But this had gone too far. Someone had died because of the blonde's wrath and Elphaba could not forgive her friend that. She wanted to, but she couldn't. Even though Glinda had had every right to be angry with the raven-haired witch after Fiyero had run away with her.
She shook her head violently and buried the fingernails of her one hand into the palm of the other. She wouldn't think of him. She couldn't. It hurt too much. If she thought of him, she would cry, and she'd rather just kill herself here and now.
Hm… Perhaps that's not even such a bad idea.
She realised how her years on the run had changed her. Sure, she had always been sarcastic and suspicious and wary, but never to this degree. She had grown bitter, she realised with a pang. She had never thought of herself as a bitter person. Her father had been bitter, and to some extent, Nessa had been, too, in the end. But not her. She was many things, but not bitter. She wasn't anything like her father and sister. Not like them at all.
She rested her forehead against the cold bricks of the wall. Her fingernails dug so deeply into her skin that a few small, shiny drops of blood appeared. They dripped down her hand, dangling at the pale looking green skin for a moment before letting go and falling towards the floor, where they shattered in a thousand smaller droplets of blood. She watched them with some kind of sick fascination. Was she losing her mind? Probably. She let out a mirthless cackle. The Wicked Witch of the West, finally gone mad.
Ah, well. Perhaps madness would bring her some peace.
'Scarecrow, can I ask you something?' the annoying little farm girl asked.
Fiyero sighed, trying not to show how fed up he was with this kid. 'Sure, Dorothy.'
'How did you end up on that pole in the first place?'
It was what my former colleagues tied me to when they were beating me to pulp. 'I don't remember anything that happened before you found me.'
'But how is that possible?' the girl asked. 'Surely you must have some memories from before that!'
Not just 'some' memories, Dorothy. Way too many memories, and too few at the same time. 'Nope. No memories. Nothing at all,' he said instead. 'I guess that comes with not having a brain.'
He could see the irony. Frankly, it was why he had come up with this particular reason to pretend want to visit the Wizard. To get a brain. He smirked inwardly. He knew Elphaba would appreciate the irony, too. In fact, she would probably laugh at him and then tell him to go on with it and ask the Wizard for a brain, since he obviously could use one.
Elphaba… Oz, he hoped she was safe.
'Does it bother you?' asked Dorothy. 'That you can't think? That you don't remember anything?'
He shrugged. 'Not really. I don't know any better, after all.' I never did think much in the first place.
Dorothy happily skipped along the Yellow Brick Road next to him. 'Well, now we're going to see the Wonderful Wizard and he'll give you a brain, I'm sure. That lovely Glinda lady said he'd help us all.' Dorothy cringed her forehead in thought. 'Do you think we have to repay him somehow? I don't have any money with me, and he's a Wizard, so I suppose he doesn't need any, either… but would we have to do something for him? Galinda said something like that…'
'Well, you already killed the Wicked Witch of the East,' the Tinman, walking on her other side, chimed in. Dorothy's face brightened. 'Does that mean I already did him a favour and so his sending me home will just be a favour in return?'
Fiyero snorted and the Tinman – Boq – looked at the girl pitifully. 'No. He'll probably ask you to kill the Wicked Witch of the West as well,' he told the girl. 'Because now you're a Witch killer, and the Witch of the West is an even greater threat than the Witch of the East was.'
Dorothy looked frightened. 'But that was an accident! I can't kill another Witch!'
'Sure you can,' Boq told her brusquely. 'We'll help you. That's why I joined you in the first place, after all.'
She looked at him suspiciously. 'To kill the Witch of the West? I thought you wanted a heart-'
'I do!' Boq snapped, interrupting her. 'I mean I came with you to make sure I get a heart, and if the Wizard wants us to kill the Witch of the West for that, I'll gladly help you to get that heart.' Dorothy seemed to buy it, but Fiyero narrowed his eyes at the Tinman. Oz, what he wouldn't give to beat him to pulp. If anyone needed a brain around here, it was Boq. He couldn't believe the Munchkin boy. They had all been friends back at Shiz, and Boq and Elphaba had gotten along just fine – but now he craved for her blood. What had she ever done to him? He claimed that she was the reason he was made of tin now, but Fiyero couldn't imagine why she would have done that to her old friend. He knew she wasn't cruel, or wicked – not in the slightest. If she had indeed turned Boq into tin, it must have been for a good reason.
'We're off to see the Wizard!' Dorothy sang as she hopped in front of them. Her annoying little dog ran around her feet, barking all the time. Fiyero eyed them wearily. How had he ended up here with this bunch of idiots?
Again, the irony struck him – most people had always seen him as the idiot.
'Sing us a song, Scarecrow?' Dorothy asked hopefully, looking up at him with pleading eyes. Fiyero sighed once again. 'I don't sing, Dorothy.'
'Sure you do!' the girl disagreed. 'Everyone can sing! Come on, Scarecrow, please?'
'Yeah, Scarecrow,' the Lion chuckled. 'Sing us a song.'
'Fine!' he exclaimed in exasperation. 'I'll sing you a song!' He thought about starting with 'Dancing Through Life' for a moment, but dismissed the idea. Boq would recognise the song and Fiyero did not want the Tinman to know who he was – not yet, anyway. 'Come on and ease on down, ease on down the road!' he started singing in a happy voice, and Dorothy linked arms with him and started skipping again, forcing him to skip along. The Lion and Boq soon joined them and they all sang the song while skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, while Fiyero silently prayed that no one would see him, for anyone who would, would probably severely doubt his sexual orientation.
Just a little while longer and I'm going to severely doubt my own sexual orientation.
Elphaba woke with a start when rough hands suddenly seized her. She started struggling immediately and opened her mouth to scream, but there were too many of them; one of them clasped his hand over her mouth and the others handcuffed her. 'The Wizard wants to see you,' one of the Gale Force soldiers told her in a gruff voice, and she stopped struggling. The Wizard. Good.
She didn't resist as they dragged her up a few sets of stairs, through the hallways of the palace and into the Wizard's Throne Room. Morrible looked up as she was brought in and she grinned maliciously. The giant head of the Wizard came to life. 'LEAVE HER WITH ME,' it ordered, and the soldiers saluted and left. The Wizard then appeared from behind his mechanical device. 'Well, well, well. What do we have here. I'd say we've captured a Wicked Witch, what about you, Madame?'
Morrible cackled. 'What shall we do with her?' She moved a bit closer and Elphaba seized that opportunity to lurch forward and try to attack Morrible, but it was of no use, since she was still handcuffed. The woman easily worked the young witch to the floor and held her down with one foot on her back. 'I like her better on the floor.'
'Who doesn't?' the Wizard agreed cheerfully, approaching to take a good look at his almost-apprentice. 'Why, dearie, don't you have anything to say?'
Elphaba's only reply was to spit in his face.
He looked furious as he wiped the saliva from his face. 'You'll pay for that, witch! Morrible!'
The old woman started chanting and Elphaba suddenly found herself paralysed, unable to move a single muscle. Then the pain started. Stabbing, soaring pain that rushed through her veins and touched every single nerve in her entire body, nearly causing her to faint. She didn't scream, however. She didn't even whimper. She just kept her eyes locked on the Wizard's, pure hatred radiating from them as Morrible kept up the torture.
Suddenly, the door flew open and a flash of pale pink silk, creamy white skin and bouncing blonde curls entered the room. She froze dead in her tracks as she caught sight of her former best friend, lying on the floor. 'E-Elphie?' she whispered, not believing her own eyes.
Morrible flashed the blonde a deceivingly innocent smile. 'Well hello, dearie. The Wizard and I were just punishing a criminal, nothing special.'
'Surely you don't feel sorry for her, do you?' Morrible continued, fixing her gaze on Glinda. 'Because if you do, people might just consider you a traitor – like that treacherous fiancé of yours.'
Elphaba winced inwardly at the mention of Fiyero and Glinda's eyes filled with tears, but she blinked them away quickly. 'No. No, of course I don't feel sorry for her,' she said, locking eyes with Elphaba and trying to tell her friend in that one look how sorry she was, how much it hurt her to act like this.
Morrible's grin widened. 'Then perhaps you would like to bestow a little torture spell upon her yourself, Your Goodness?'
Glinda froze. She was screaming inside. No! This is wrong – you can't do this! You have to help her! But she knew there was nothing she could do.
Morrible handed the blonde a piece of parchment. 'Read this. Prove that you're on our side.'
Morrible's own spell ceased and Elphaba gasped, trying to catch her breath. The actual pain was gone, but the aftermath of it was so strong that she still couldn't move, even despite the paralysis having disappeared. She looked up at what had once been her best friends. Right now, with her huge, tear-filled baby blue eyes, her trembling lower lip, the desperate look on her face, she looked so many years younger than her twenty-three years of age. She looked like a little girl.
The parchment shook as Glinda tried to compose herself and stop her hands from trembling, but to no avail. She looked down at Elphaba, who looked back with an empty – no, even worse… with a dead look in her once lively brown eyes. 'Do it,' she said flatly. 'Just do it.'
And she did. She hated herself for it, the moment the first word left her lips, and her hatred towards herself only grew when she watched Elphaba squirm on the floor in pain, finally giving in and screaming, animal-like howls that sent chills running down Glinda's spine. When she finished the spell, the tears were streaming down her face and she wanted nothing more than just to jump out of a window right now and end it, she hated herself so much. Elphaba, however, didn't seem to resent her for it, strangely enough. The green girl just looked at the blonde for a long moment, a wry smile playing around her lips.
Morrible seemed tired of the torture already and waved one hand in the air. 'Guards, take her back to her cell!'
They grasped her and dragged her back to the dungeons, where they unceremoniously dumped her in a corner of the cell. That's where she stayed, lying in a broken, crumpled heap, not caring about anything anymore.
Cyara was lying curled up on her cot, fast asleep, when a horrendible cry suddenly jolted her awake.
She shot up bolt upright, her eyes skimming the room feverishly, until she remember where she was – in the dungeons. Where had that scream come from? Someone being tortured? It must have been one hell of a torture, then. Cyara had heard prisoners scream before, but never like this. Never this broken and desperate.
Another scream, something that sounded like a name this time, but the voice was too thick with emotion for Cyara to recognise it as such. It came from the cell across from hers and she got up tentatively and approached the bars. 'Miss? Miss, are you okay?'
She could vaguely see someone tossing and turning on the bed, but whoever the person was, she didn't wake up. 'Miss!' Cyara called again, louder this time, and the shape in the other cell suddenly sat up straight, dark eyes glistening faintly in the dim light. 'Miss?' Cyara asked again, cautiously. 'Are you okay?'
A ragged, mirthless cackle. 'Am I okay?'
Cyara suddenly felt very stupid. 'Well, since you're down here and all, of course you're not 'okay', but… well… You were screaming in your sleep.'
'I had a nightmare,' came the curt reply.
Cyara nodded. 'That's what I thought.'
A few moments of silence. 'Who are you?' asked Cyara curiously.
Another empty laugh. 'I'm the…' The woman's voice trailed away. Then she said quietly, 'Elphaba.'
'Nice to meet you, Miss Elphaba,' Cyara said, keeping her manners in mind. 'I'm Cyara.'
She was met with more silence. 'Miss Elphaba? Why are you here?'
A snort. Then a self-mocking voice. 'Because I'm wicked.'
Cyara tensed. 'Like the Wicked Witch of the West?'
That same dry voice. 'Worse.'
'What did you do, then?' Cyara asked. 'You don't sound like a wicked person to me.'
'You can't tell if a person is wicked or not by the sound of their voice, Cyara.'
'Well… no. I suppose not.' The girl paused. 'So, what did you do?'
Elphaba sighed. 'I killed my sister. I betrayed my best friend. I ruined an old college friend's life. Neither of them on purpose, but intentions don't mean a thing. It's the result that counts.'
'I don't agree,' Cyara spoke thoughtfully. 'I think intentions are important. It's not like it will bring your sister back, for example, but it might make it easier for other people to forgive you for doing it. And for you to forgive yourself.'
Elphaba's voice was flat when she spoke again. 'I'll never forgive myself.'
'What about the name you were shouting in your sleep?' Cyara asked. 'Who is he?'
A long silence. Then a hoarse reply. 'The only man I ever loved – the only man who ever loved me.'
'What happened to him?' Cyara continued, curious about the woman in the other cell. She heard a sigh that sounded as if the woman was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. 'I killed him, too,' she then whispered, causing chills to involuntarily run down Cyara's spine. 'I never wanted to. But he… I…' The voice trailed away and when Elphaba spoke again, she sounded harsher. 'I don't want to talk about it.'
'That's fine,' Cyara said quietly, even though she was incredibly curious now. More silence. Then Elphaba's voice, hesitating. 'Why are you here?'
'I stole from a market stall,' Cyara mumbled, looking down at the floor. 'My family didn't have anything to eat. I took a loaf of bread, and I got caught.'
'That's all?' Elphaba sounded incredulous. 'You stole some bread? That's why you're in here?'
Cyara nodded, then realised the other woman wouldn't be able to see that. 'Yes. I've only been here for a week or so. The punishment for stealing is one month in prison, so I'll be free in another three weeks.'
'Three weeks…' Elphaba sounded distant now. 'I'll probably be gone by then.'
'You mustn't think that way-'
'I hope I will be.'
That caught Cyara's attention. 'What?'
'There's nothing left for me in this world,' Elphaba said simply. 'Everything and everyone I love is dead or doesn't care anymore. The world will be better off without me, and I'll probably be better off without the world.' She paused for a moment, then added in a slightly wry voice, 'I'm limited.'