Irritation had practically consumed her. For Oz's sake, she was trying to learn! But learning was impossible when that damned new professor could only mumble softly and Avaric wouldn't shut up. Why had Boq insisted on sitting next to Avaric and that new boy? Better yet, why had she followed?
She sent a piercing glare in the direction of Avaric and that stupid Winkie prince. Okay, he was from the Vinkus; Elphaba didn't allow herself to be anything but politically correct. But he was still stupid, especially if he was hanging with Avaric. Hissing, she spat harshly, "Would you two stop talking already? No one cares about the sex life you plan to have, Avaric." Her eyes gave a cursory glance over the new boy, ignoring the slightly interesting diamond markings. "Well, maybe this idiot does, but the rest of us come to class because we plan on acquiring knowledge, and not about your disgusting habits."
"Look who's talking about disgusting." Avaric snapped. "At least I can wear more than three colors without making someone want to throw up!"
The new boy nodded, no supply of words in his brain, an almost impulsive reaction.
Elphaba smirked and narrowed her eyes at the dark boy. "I wouldn't be agreeing with him. You should've heard his comments about your looks the first day you walked into class." With that, she went back to her notebook, bracing herself to ignore the responses she would no doubt get from one or both of them.
They didn't have time to reply, however, for the new teacher raised his voice, something no one realized he was capable of. "I'm assigning a project that will last the semester; it's to be worked on in pairs. Since there's an odd number of people in class, would anyone like to volunteer to work alone?"
Elphaba's hand shot up. Thank Oz, she thought. No one but Boq would even put up with her, anyway, so it'd be easier just to work on her own.
The professor nodded, made note of it on his clipboard and continued. "I will be assigning each pair a topic. There will be a twenty-page paper, a presentation – including pictures – and various checkpoints along the way. I'll be going through the class list randomly to decide who will be working with who, as I don't quite trust you to be wise enough to choose your own partners." He gazed at the class list a moment, "Master Boq and… Miss Milla, you will be working on the Ozian solar system."
Boq shrugged and looked around for his partner. He recognized her as a girl who had been on the outer parts of Glinda's social circle. This cheered him instantly and he began doodling as the professor made his way through the class.
"…And last but not least, Miss Elphaba, since you have graciously offered to work solo…"
"Wait!" Avaric stood. "I guess since he's new you forgot to add him to the class list. My buddy, Fiyero, here doesn't have a partner."
Elphaba bit her lip, took a deep breath and begged the professor with her eyes not to force her to work with some insolent imbecile – which is what this boy must be, if he was "buddies" with Avaric. Unfortunately, her silent pleas were ignored.
"Miss Elphaba, it was kind of you to offer to work by yourself, but it seems you won't have to. You and Master Fiyero can work on the several biological reproduction techniques."
Before Elphaba could protest, Avaric once again spoke up, "But why should she be working on reproduction when it'll never come in handy for her?"
Elphaba growled in her throat and closed her eyes, trying to keep her calm as small strains of laughter echoed around the room.
"If you'd like, Master Avaric, she can switch places with your partner, Master Crope, and work on the cellular make-up of fish with you."
Avaric backed off and slumped down in his chair, clapping Fiyero on the back, "Have fun, man."
"The class is less than halfway over, I'm giving you this time to meet with your partners and work out some sort of schedule or planning time. Get to work." With that, the owl-faced professor dropped his arms and left the students to their talking.
Boq shoved Elphaba out of her seat. "Come on, Miss Elphie, go find Fiyero, we're supposed to start working." He was gone and chatting with Milla, who didn't look the least bit happy about the partnership, in a flash.
Elphaba didn't move. She was seething at her misfortune. Well, it was just her luck, wasn't it? After a moment, she moved to get up and reluctantly headed for the Vinkus boy. However, he was headed for her at the same moment, and as she turned she realized he was right in front of her and caught herself from walking into him. In the process, though, she'd pulled back her foot, which had unfortunately missed the stair beneath her and she felt herself falling towards the ground. Great. Another reason for people to laugh at me. She closed her eyes and prepared herself for the impact.
Her body hit nothing, except someone had grabbed her wrist. Opening her eyes as she used this unprecedented grip to regain her balance, she realized the Vinkus boy had been somewhat gentlemanly and helped her. It must've been a subconscious thing, of course. If one sees someone else falling, one tries to stop that someone from hitting the ground, even if that someone happens to be a green skinned freak. The boy dropped her wrist quickly after she'd gotten all her wits about her, looking her over.
"Thanks," she muttered, half on reflex. "Well, I see that you, unlike Avaric, aren't so disgusted by me that you think touching me will infect you with some deadly virus."
"I wasn't going to let you fall." He answered, staring at the floor. "That would be more than rude."
"Well, you've already been more than rude to me, haven't you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You didn't say anything, but nodding when Avaric insults me isn't necessarily nice, is it?"
"Look, let's just get to work. When and where should we work?"
"I don't know. Girls aren't allowed in the Three Queens library, and that's the only library that's remotely useful. You'll have to figure out what books to get and then we'll have to work somewhere else."
Fiyero nodded. "But where and when?"
"You need time to get to the library, and Oz only knows how long that'll take you, what with your busy social life hanging with Avaric, so we should start working in a week or so. I don't know where." Elphaba threw in insults along with the mandatory statements and did not at all expect him to even realize he was being poked fun at; most boys were too thick.
"I could get to the library whenever I need to, even today." He retorted.
She raised her eyebrows. "I'm sure."
"You're judging me."
"You think I'm an idiot and a jerk just because I associate with Avaric." He accused.
"It's better than thinking someone's a freak because they have a different skin color." She reminded him, stepping up a stair so her face was inches from his, though slightly lower.
He blinked, looked at his own skin, as if her comments had only just jogged his memory that he was different, as well. Quietly, he asked, "What did he say?"
Startled that she wasn't being shoved or laughed at, she stared up at him, "Huh?"
"Avaric. What did he say about me the first day I walked into class?" His sapphire eyes implored her.
For a moment, she was stunned by the depth behind the dark shades of blue in his eyes, but she shook her head, realizing herself suddenly. "What does it matter now?"
Fiyero shrugged. "I don't know," he answered honestly.
"Then I'm not going to bother telling you." Elphaba swallowed. "Where and when will we work, once you've gotten the books?" This had to be strictly work, nothing more, even if she enjoyed shooting insults at this boy, she'd rather shoot them directly at Avaric.
"There're study rooms; we can sign up for times, I guess."
The last thing she wanted was to work with this boy in a secluded area alone. Damn the sexist Crage Hall board for not allowing girls in the library! What had been the reason, again? They'd said it would be promoting premarital relations, or something. Right. And allowing a girl and a boy to sit by themselves in a room without anyone else didn't? She sighed, "Fine. When do you want to start working?"
"Well, it's going to be a huge project, so we might as well get working soon. As I said, I can get to the library today. Do you have classes tomorrow in the morning or afternoon?"
"Good. We'll work in the afternoon."
Elphaba looked surprised. "Really? A boy like you has no plans with a free Friday afternoon?"
Taking a step away from her, finally, he said, "I do. But not until late afternoon."
"Lucky me." Elphaba rolled her eyes.
Avaric and Crope walked up to them, then, followed by Tibbett, who had already ditched his partner. "Fiyero, are you up for lunch at the café with a couple of people I know?" Avaric asked. "I've introduced you to some of them, like that Munchkin boy, Boq, and this one, here, who tags along because her roomie is part of the group, but you haven't met a few of the girls. Interested?"
"Right after class?" Fiyero turned and gazed at the clock. "Sure. But I've got to get to the library some time this afternoon."
"See you there." Avaric wandered back down the steps, taking a look back at Elphaba, "and you, too, unfortunately."
Fiyero shook his head and looked at Elphaba. "What sort of bitchy thing did you do?"
"Me?" Elphaba looked at him, confused.
"He has to have a reason for hating you."
"Oh, yeah. I'm green. That's what I did." She snorted.
The bell rang, but Fiyero didn't immediately walk away. "I never realized people judged people that much."
She stared. Was there something more to this boy than she thought? "And what happy little place were you raised?"
"I was raised in a Palace."
"Which is why you're so sheltered. Well, where you were raised is heaven compared to the outside world." Elphaba stuck out her hand for him to shake. "So, tomorrow afternoon?"
He instinctively took her hand. "If home was heaven, where…?"
Elphaba cut him off, shaking his hand roughly. Before she walked down the stairs she looked into his eyes, grinned tauntingly and said, "Welcome, foolish boy, to hell."