Flying Without Wings
DISCLAIMER: Wicked isn't mine, and neither is the song Flying Without Wings.
AN. Hey guys, this one-shot was at the request of Princess of the Negaverse (well, not this one-shot, she just requested a one-shot). Remember when I said I was hoping to start posting Come What May (the You've Got Mail sequel) by my birthday? Well, my birthday is on Thursday (May 23rd), and I'm unfortunately not going to be able to make my goal.
This is due to 2 excellent reasons: 1- I got a job! That means that my writing time has decreased, plus the fact I am still getting caught up on the school, lessons and everything else that's going on. And 2- this story has a life of it's own. Seriously, before I started writing, I thought it would be between 20-30 chapters. Um, I'm currently on 28 and have planned up to 41. Oops. But I am working on it, I promise. I could start posting it, but I'd hate to keep you all waiting if I don't finish before I get caught up with posting.
Um... anything else you should know... oh! I updated my profile, so check that out. I've set up a few new things with links on there for you all. Other than that, keep checking out my blog and twitter for updates on everything else (links all on my profile).
Contentment (noun): Feeling of happiness and satisfaction, not desiring more.
Happiness (noun): Having, expressing or enjoying the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction. A state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
"Are you happy?"
Fiyero looked up with a start, surprised at the question. It hadn't been asked sarcastically, or meanly, or with any kind of bite. It was a simple question and asked simply, but Fiyero had not been expecting it. After all, they had been doing nothing to prompt the question, he had simply been doing the puzzles in the paper on a Saturday afternoon.
Not saying anything, he studied the questioner as he lay down his pen. It had been almost a year since he and Elphaba had fled Oz and made their way to Ev and began to establish new lives for themselves- their life together.
It had gone fast and had been more than either Elphaba or Fiyero had ever imagined. She had worked tirelessly, consulting with every magical person and text in the country until she found a way to transform Fiyero back to his human state- an achievement finally successful after three months under the theory that just because spells could not be reversed, does not mean another spell could not be cast on a subject over the top of the former.
"That's what I did for Boq," Elphaba had explained to him, her eyes still downcast and guilt-filled at the memory of what she had been forced to do to the former Munchkin in order to save his life.
It had just been a matter of finding the right spell, and one powerful enough to stick over the spell from the Grimmerie that had transformed him into a Scarecrow in the first place. "Stick" hadn't been the word Elphaba had used in her explanation, but it was good enough for Fiyero. He had never claimed to be as smart as Elphaba. Given that the Grimmerie was (again, in Elphaba's words) an ancient book full of incredibly powerful spells in a language that had been mostly lost now, it was fair to say the search for the right spell hadn't been easy. But Elphaba wouldn't rest until she had tried absolutely everything, and at last, her efforts paid off.
But they had also set up home. They had found an apartment in the main city- well, actually an old (and that was putting it lightly) loft at the top of an abandoned old building. They had found work, Fiyero only post-transformation of course, as there wasn't much work out there for a Scarecrow. Elphaba got work in the local library, which meant she had access to books and solitude, which pleased her; and Fiyero put his Gale Force experience to good use and joined the Sherriff's office.
Ev was good for them. People kept to themselves, and had no great affection or loyalty to Oz, so if anyone had even heard of the Wicked Witch of the West, they weren't about to alert anyone that she was now a librarian in Ev.
As Fiyero looked at Elphaba now, wondering what had prompted her to ask such a question, she was watching him quietly from where she had turned on the couch to face him, resting her chin on her arm which was draped over the back of the couch. She wore a long, simple black dress that left one green shoulder bare, and her long dark hair was in loose waves.
"What kind of question is that?" he asked, frowning slightly.
"A valid one. And a simple one," she replied flatly. "Are you?"
In reply, Fiyero stood up and came around to sit beside her on the couch.
"Fae, let me tell you a story," he said.
Elphaba arched an eyebrow. "A story?" she repeated sceptically.
He nodded. "Yes. Now," he cleared his throat. "Once upon a time- ow!"
He rubbed his arm where Elphaba had punched him. "I wish I was still made of straw," he muttered and Elphaba's glare intensified.
"Then it wouldn't hurt," Fiyero explained needlessly, and she said nothing.
Fiyero cleared his throat sheepishly and continued.
"Ok, the story. I never used to know there was a difference between contentment and happiness. Don't they just mean the same thing? The definitions aren't that different, to be content is to be happy, wasn't it?"
Elphaba looked faintly surprised. This conversation was more intellectual than she and Fiyero usually had.
"On the surface, maybe," she replied. "There's a difference, but they have the same basic meaning, yes."
"So I used to think I was happy. You know, I thought I had a pretty great life."
Elphaba snorted lightly, they both knew exactly the type of life Fiyero used to lead. Surrounding himself with fun people he could call friends, even if they never saw below that happy-go-lucky, party loving, scandalacious prince facade he'd perfected over the years; as well as a string of gorgeous girls who adored him; and the other pleasures of life- money, food and anything else that amused him at that moment.
"So with all of that, it was easy for me to think I was happy. Or content. Whatever," he added dismissively and Elphaba smiled slightly.
"The older I got, the more I began to realise that it wasn't a matter of thinking I was happy. It was convincing myself. Or keeping up the charade of the smiling face so that others would never learn it was a mask. And then I came to Shiz," he said, smiling at Elphaba, his smile soft.
They both knew that once Fiyero got to Shiz, that all changed. It was the people he met- namely, a certain green-skinned girl, that made all the difference. It was Elphaba who made him realise that something was missing in his life- in him, and brought him to that place where he couldn't hide it from himself anymore.
And, as Elphaba was apt to do, she'd delivered the blow directly, in a clearing with a Lion Cub in a cage.
"No, you're not. Or you wouldn't be so unhappy."
It was said so simply and honestly, yet directly. She even chuckled faintly as she said as it, as though his last defence of being "genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow" had been a joke. Which Fiyero later realised, it was. But more pathetic than humorous. As Fiyero gaped at her, stunned, he had very few thoughts.
"All I could think was how shocked I was that this strange green girl who he didn't know that well, could see through the mask so easily. But there was something else I saw when I looked at you. Empathy. You had this look in your eyes when you were looking at me, like you recognised it in me, because you were missing something too. Like you were hiding yourself as much as I was."
Elphaba looked down, biting her lip. It was true, she was practiced at putting on a tougher exterior than she actually felt. She never wanted to let people know how much it bothered her- the way they stared, their comments about her skin.
"And then all of a sudden you was gone... a fugitive. A terrorist, the papers' called you," he said, saying the word with distaste.
And thus began Fiyero's search to find what had been missing from his life.
He knew he wasn't the only person making this search, looking for something to bring that sense of utter joy, peace, completion to their lives. And Fiyero knew he wasn't even the only one to know that it was a person who would bring that sense and fill that hole in their life.
"But I found it slightly ironic that I, unlike those other people, knew exactly who the person was I was searching for. I just had no idea where in Oz you were."
Elphaba smiled. "I was around," she said vaguely.
Fiyero rolled his eyes. "That's helpful," he said sarcastically.
In his work in the Gale Force, and in what Fiyero secretly thought of as "his other work" as the handsome swain of Glinda the Good, Fiyero met a lot of people. People of all ages, all walks of life, all situations. People looking for that something, people who had been lucky enough to find theirs.
These "somethings" weren't exactly discussed around a table at the bar after a shift, or with glasses of champagne and caviar at cocktail parties. But Fiyero had taught himself to recognised the signs in people's faces and body language in ordinary conversations, and he took notes. And he found that people's "somethings" were often things he hadn't never considered or imagined. Places he might have once thought of as strange, places he never knew it could be.
And he never knew it could be lots of little things that when combined made the most special, most incredible love and joy.
"Things like what?" Elphaba asked, intrigued despite herself and that Fiyero was taking a really long time to answer a simple question.
Fiyero smiled, knowing he had her attention.
"Things like children," he replied and Elphaba stiffened.
Fiyero realised immediately how she had interpreted that and hastened to explain. The subject of children was a topic for a different day.
"Well, some of the men I knew in the Gale Force, those that had kids, they'd carry their photographs around with them in their wallets. And when we had to be away from the City for a while, following up on some hint about where you were most of the time, they'd pull them out, and show them off to everyone. And when we'd come home, their kids would be there, running to meet them. And I don't think they ever looked happier."
"What about those who didn't have kids?" Elphaba asked, eager to move past this subject lest it should segue to a topic she was nowhere ready to discuss yet.
"They had pictures of their wives, fiancées, girlfriends, etc. Whatever. Boyfriend, occasionally. If none of the above, it would be a picture of their family most likely."
"I'm assuming you had a picture of Glinda," Elphaba said matter-of-factly.
Fiyero looked awkward. "Well... um... yes."
Elphaba rolled her eyes. As much as she didn't love the reminder that Fiyero had been with Glinda, she couldn't deny that it happened and it seemed ridiculous to pretend their relationship had never happened. Fiyero clearly didn't agree.
"A buddy of mine, we went through training together, he got engaged about two months after training finished. And I used to think- or hope- that what I felt for Glinda... even though it wasn't the same for what I felt for you, even though I knew I wasn't in love with her... I thought it would be enough. And when he announced the engagement, I asked him how he knew. How did he know that this was right?"
Fiyero looked at her with a strange smile. "He told me that when he was with his girl, he felt like he was flying."
Elphaba couldn't help but perk up at that. Over her time on the run with her broom, flying had of course been her main transportation and she had quickly grown to love it.
"Now, I've never flown. By broom, bubble or wings," Fiyero said with a grin. "But I get what he was talking about. Because since I've been with you, I feel it too. Like I'm flying. Even without wings."
Elphaba reflected on the feeling she always got when she flew. That feeling of freedom, the drop in her stomach, the thrill of goosebumps that rushed over her from head to toe. And she could understand the analogy.
"So... this is a really long way of telling me that yes, you are happy? Because you feel like you're flying?"
"Yes. Although I feel I got to my point too early," Fiyero said, making a face.
Elphaba laughed, rolling her eyes. "I think it was long enough. You couldn't have just said 'yes, I am happy'?"
Fiyero leaned over and kissed her gently. "Yes, I am happy," he said.
"I am deliriously happy. I am desperately in love with you, and I am flying without wings baby."
Elphaba could only laugh.
"You're an idiot," she said fondly.
Satisfied now that she had an answer, Elphaba returned to the book she was reading. But she'd gotten Fiyero thinking now, and he couldn't simply forget it.
"What about you?"
"Hmm?" she looked up. "Am I happy?"
"No. Well, yes," Fiyero amended. "But... what are your things?"
Elphaba raised an eyebrow. "My 'things'?"
He shrugged. "Your things. Those little special things make you happy."
Elphaba chuckled. "You didn't tell me yours. Why should I give mine up?"
Fiyero thought about that and realised it was true.
"Well, you tell me one of yours and I'll tell you one of mine," he suggested.
"I thought you know me so well. Can't you tell what makes me happy?" she teased him.
She was joking, but Fiyero was never one to back down from a challenge.
Elphaba was confused. "Words? What does that mean? Words make me happy?"
Fiyero explained. "You have this ability to find meaning in words. That's why you love reading. I've seen you laugh or cry just over one line. You find something special in the words of others, you get some meaning from it, that makes you feel like it's speaking to you. That makes you happy. I've never seen someone who gets so much joy and inner peace from reading."
Elphaba blushed slightly at his tone.
"I guess that's true," she said slowly.
She knew why. For so much of her life, books had been her sole comfort. They had been her friends, her teachers, her world. They had taught her almost everything she knew and helped shaped her to become who she was. She couldn't help but find meaning in everything.
"And friendships," Fiyero continued. "I know that you miss Glinda, and I know that despite everything that happened between you guys and even though..."
"She thinks I'm dead?" Elphaba finished dryly, unable to help a grimace of guilt and pain from flashing over her face as she said it.
Fiyero squeezed her hand. "But that's it. To be able to feel so much, and to cherish your friendship with Glinda so deeply... I know why you do it. She was the first friend you ever had. You don't take friendship lightly."
"Are we still talking about what makes me happy?" Elphaba asked him, unsure.
"Do you know what makes me happy?" Fiyero asked her quietly.
"Food, sex, music," Elphaba started to list automatically, but he cut her off quickly.
"OK, let me rephrase. Do you know what makes me happiest? What makes me think of what my friend told me? To let me know every single day that what we have is right?"
If Elphaba had to pick one, she would have said sex, but she said nothing, suspecting Fiyero had something more sentimental in mind.
"What?" she asked instead.
The way he was smiling at her made Elphaba shiver. "It's every morning, when I wake up beside you and I watch the sun rise on your face. To know that I can say I love you any time or place that I want."
He kissed her gently, and Elphaba was speechless, not sure what to say in reply.
"Do you want to know one of mine?" she finally said.
Fiyero grinned. "Yes," he said immediately, drawing her closer.
"It's knowing that I know you better than anyone else," she told him simply. "All the little things that only I know, the things that make you mine. Because I... I know I always act like your past doesn't bother me, but sometimes it does," she admitted. "Sometimes it doesn't really feel real that you picked me over everyone, everything you've done and sacrificed for me... for us. That... that's my thing. When I remember that you love me exactly as I am. That's what makes me feel like I'm flying. Without broom, bubble or wings," she added with a slight chuckle.
Fiyero kissed her again, beaming at her. "You're the place my life begins," he told her sincerely. "My life started when I met you, and I wouldn't change a single thing. And you'll be where it ends, you are my life, Fae. You bring so much joy to my life."
Elphaba smiled. "So we're agreed. We're both happy."
"Yes. Do you feel better now?" he asked her.
"Yes. But can you promise me something?"
"Sure," Fiyero agreed immediately.
"Can we please drop the 'flying without wings' thing? It doesn't sit well with me."
It took Fiyero a second to realise why that would be, before recalling the Monkeys in the Wizard's palace and what Elphaba had in advertently done to them. He understood why she wasn't comfortable with it, but he was reluctant to let it go.
"Are you sure? Because it has a ring to it. I'm flying without wings, baby... remember?"
"And don't call me baby," Elphaba responded flatly.
"You're no fun," Fiyero pouted.
Elphaba just stared at him pointedly and he sighed. "Fine, I promise. No more flying without wings."
He got up off the couch, and headed back to the table where his paper had been intended. He glanced over his shoulder at Elphaba.
"Flying without a bubble?"
A glare was her answer.
"Or not," he muttered under his breath and resumed his puzzles.
AN. Just a little thing to tide you over until Come What May is finished!