A/N: Once again I've been a terrible human being and not updated for longer than I care to admit to. Thank you sooo much to my faithful reviewers from the last chapter. LillyFae in particular, thank you so much J

Bones 12: Growing Pains

Most people fail to realize that the slightest shift in a delicate system can throw it completely off balance. The whole conglomeration of parts has to move, creak apart to make room, or contract. Like the body of an adolescent, that twinges and hurts as it grows and puts strain on the rest of the joints.

Elphaba was the first to notice how the introduction of Nessa and, by extension Nanny, changed the group dynamic. She was also the first to feel it. As had been the case in her earlier childhood, she had once again found herself with a dependent. Nessa and her whims called on Elphaba with no regard for the green girls own needs. If that wasn't enough, in her sister's absence Nessa had become a devout unionist, with a faith to rival that of Frex. The group had their beliefs and it simply didn't do to have zealotry forced on them in this manner. Elphaba couldn't risk reacting lest it get back to her father by way of Nanny and, she knew the old woman was always watching. With the growth of the group, she felt her bones being crushed in an effort to accommodate the intruders.

Galinda, for all her usual obliviousness noticed soon after what was occurring. Both in the group and the privacy of their rooms Elphaba seemed to have retreated back into the shell she had been in when she had first come to Shiz. Even now, Nessa was speaking and Elphaba seemed to have fallen in on herself next to the wheel of the strange chair Nessa travelled in. Absent-mindedly Galinda chewed her full, pink lip while she tried to wrap her limited powers of thought around the situation.

"You would happen to be thinking would you Galinda?" The blonde flicked her hair and fixed her blue eyes on Fiyero in irritation. She was fairly certain she nearly had an answer when she'd been interrupted, now she would never get it back.

"Only about what dress to wear to the dance tonight." It was exactly the vacuity that was expected of her. Was. Thanks to Elphaba, she'd been known to have a few truly insightful moments of late. None of which she could share in front of Nessa or Nanny, to them she was just a ditzy little socialite here at Shiz on Mummy's money. Galinda glanced sideways, Elphaba was staring at her intently, but she couldn't read the expression in the strange way the green girl masked her eyes. The blonde shook her shoulders out of awkwardness. Apparently it was the wrong response, for Elphaba looked down and, this time the Gilikin could clearly read the expression. Her friend was hurt and disappointed.

Unbeknownst to the two girls, Fiyero had observed the entire exchange. He hadn't observed this particular dynamic since the very early days of the charmed circle. Nessa had changed things and, he wasn't entirely sure it was for the better. Boq had confessed a few days ago that Crope and Tibbet had told him they no longer hung around with the group because Nessarose 'cramped their style'. The Arjiki prince couldn't blame them but he was more pained to see the impact it was having on Elphaba.

He, like Galinda, had noticed the green girl shrink away from the group, the pained expressions that crossed a face already too full of hurt every time Nessa interjected or called on her sister. And the way Elphaba, normally so strong, cowered at her sister's feet caused rage to rise within Fiyero that he was unaccustomed to. But neither he, nor anyone else, would say anything. Not out of concern for Nessa, but out of respect for Elphaba who had asked them to take care of her sister. So they all sat in silence as they tried to creak their way into a space that would accommodate the newcomer.

"The Unnamed God demands that we relinquish our hold on the material superficialities of this world in order to find salvation." Nessa responded imperiously, oblivious to her sister literally cringing at her feet. Everyone else saw it.

"It is Galinda's duty to consider these things and present herself well as a representative of a powerful Ozian family."

Elphaba regained her backbone for a moment and everyone sat in silence. Once again the body shifted as it grew. Pain shot through every single component as each tried desperately to adjust. But everything has its maximum capacity. While everyone was looking down, Elphaba looked around, stood and walked away from the group.

Only when she walked away did she realize the difficulty of continuing to grow on her own in a world where everyone else was trying to do the exact same thing and, her shoulders slumped once more. She wished Doctor Dillamond was still around, he had always valued her and the only growth he encouraged was to help her get ahead. With him in mind she lifted her gaze to Madame Morrible's east facing window. Elphaba saw movement and kept walking west.

Galinda left the group not long after Elphaba. Her act was in support of the green-girl's veritable mutiny but she wasn't sure she wanted to find her friend right now. It was extremely likely a fight would start between the two agitated girls if they came across one another. The last thing they needed now was for animosity to grown between them. Grommetik's incessant noise reached her ears, so the blonde sighed and turned away toward the northern end of campus.

Nanny had pushed Nessa's wheel chair away around the same time Galinda had left. The old woman had understood the pain that had arisen from the growth of the group, even if her charge had not. She'd started heading south, but the uppity little Miss in the chair had complained about the direction of the wind, so they had turned east. Nanny had seen Elphaba staring up at Madame Morrible's window and was surprised to see that Nessa too, couldn't help but look up as they passed.

A/N: So I just noticed my tense has been horribly inconsistent. My apologies for that, but I think I've given you fair warning that I don't edit, so the responsibility is all mine.