Well, hello new fandom! Just what I needed. /sarcasm This is all Tumblr's fault.
(Is it just me, or is everyone on this show horrifying to some degree? Except for Toto, of course.)
The usual disclaimers apply.
The second time, he didn't remember being taken down.
He woke in rough comfort and dim light, bundled in a cot in a peasant hut; stiff, sore and healing.
The local apothecary was good - good enough to keep him dosed with poppy dust as his stab wound healed. It was days before he could keep a thought in his head long enough to finish it.
He lay silent for the most part, limiting his words to a murmur of thanks when given water or medicine. His rescuers, a pair of brawny farming brothers, talked to each other, not to him, but he did glean small bits of information. They were sent to get him down, sent by a small dark witch, fierce and fearless. She paid them to look after him and galloped away on a white horse, her dog running in her wake.
Dorothy. Her name was too hard to wrap his tired mind around, too painful to touch, but all the same he wasn't surprised. It was just her, to make sure he would live even as she left him.
His rescuers didn't ask for his name. Which was just as well, because he had no idea which one he should give them.
By the time he was strong enough to stand on his own, rumors were reaching the little village - rumors of great and terrible doings in Emerald City. Some said the Beast Forever had finally appeared, while others doubted it; some said all the remaining witches had perished in a futile battle against the Wizard, and some feared that the city itself had been obliterated entirely by the forces of Ev.
He didn't know what to think, and under the muffling ease of the poppy dust, he realized he was terribly afraid.
The apothecary's apprentice was wary of him, and he didn't blame her, but when his dose was lessened and he could think again, he gave the girl gentle smiles until she eased. She reminded him far too much of Glinda's girls, solemn and big-eyed, and he wondered with a painful desolation what had become of Leith.
"Has anyone come looking for me?" he asked her one morning, his voice rough with disuse.
She shook her head and handed him a cup of water - just water, he was relieved to find.
"No one at all?" He didn't - he didn't really expect that Dorothy would come back, but it hurt all the same. And he had expected that Glinda would at least send someone to look for him when he failed to return.
Perhaps she did, and they thought me dead. It was a possibility.
The apprentice shook her head again. "The witch said you'd know where to go when you were well."
Except he didn't. The thought was rueful and a little bit angry. The agonized division that had driven him before was gone, it was true, but he'd hoped - prayed - that the spell could be reinstated, locking Dorothy and her impossible choices out of his mind and heart.
"Put me back up. Let me be nothing again," he'd begged, clutching his side, and she'd wept as she'd bound him and raised him and left him. But consciousness left him before memory did.
"Mister Scarecrow?" The hesitant words brought him back to the present, and he looked up to see the apprentice blush.
"Is that what they're calling me?" It was almost amusing, and certainly appropriate enough.
She shrugged. He handed her back the cup, and tried another smile, though it felt as rusty as his voice. "That sounds right."
By the time the man now known as Scarecrow could walk around the village without having to stop every ten feet, real news had begun to trickle in from the capital. Emerald City still stood, for the most part. The Wizard was most sincerely dead, crushed in a battle for possession of one of his giants; the fight had damaged some of the city, but the heart of it was untouched. Ev was without royal heirs. And the Cardinal Witches had returned to their power.
Of the interloper bearing Mistress East's gauntlets, they heard only that she had woken the giant and killed the Wizard; no more than that.
Scarecrow bartered his knife for a jolting trip in the back of a cart, wounds notwithstanding; he made a tolerable bed among the vegetables destined for the capital, and wondered at his willingness to disarm himself. No sword, no dagger, no strength. But it didn't seem to matter.
He spent the hot hours thinking, to distract from the pain of the rough road. The choice he'd tried so hard to deny was still before him, but the terrible panicked urgency was gone, and now he was beginning to wonder if Glinda had had a hand in that. She always does what she can to get what she wants.
It had never bothered him before, when he'd been a simple soldier raised to the position of consort. He'd been her loyal servant as well as lover, and anything she did was right. He'd loved her with a dog's devotion, eager to take whatever she awarded him.
But he'd lost her - no. She had lost him, deliberately. Discarded him. For a purpose, certainly, but all the same, she'd turned away.
Dorothy...Dorothy had lied to him, tried to leave him behind, forced him to take on the burden of a lost child, tried to murder Glinda. But she'd also saved his life, several times. She'd given him purpose. She'd looked him in the eye and insisted he make his own choices, rather than follow without question.
And she'd made her own choices. HIs love hadn't been enough to keep her...but she'd offered to take him along, back to her world.
She had left him, finally, but it had been his choice. He could still see her when he concentrated, face smeared with dirt and tears, flushed and miserable as she pinned his arms. And furious.
Scarecrow grimaced, and threw one arm over his eyes to shield them from the sun. He'd made his choice, but it seemed like it didn't count. And he dreaded what he might find when he reached the capital, but he had to know.
He'd probably regret it, but he had to know.
They reached Emerald City in mid-afternoon, just in time to see the coronation of Oz's new Queen, the lost heir of the Pastorius line. She wore silk trousers and a mulish expression under the crown and her riotous hair, and the people cheered her with the relief of a return to tradition. Standing at the edge of the crowd, Scarecrow could see both Mistress West and Glinda on the dais, lending their authority to the proceedings. Mistress West looked decidedly smug; Glinda wore her usual expression of cool hauteur, and when her gaze swept over the crowd Scarecrow found himself edging behind a cluster of people. He wore a wide, battered hat that the apothecary had given him, but he knew her vision of old, and if she spotted him no disguise would suffice. The sight of her put a tangled knot of anger and longing in his belly, and he wanted to think before he dealt with it.
Scarecrow took his time, afterwards, circling through the celebrating city and listening, and sometimes asking questions. Everyone had a different version, but it seemed that Dorothy had solved the question of war by simply eliminating one of the antagonists. There had been an epic battle, he was told, between the Wizard and Mistress East's heir, with the Wizard assuming leadership of Ev's decapitated forces and the unknown witch countering with the stone giant. No one could explain why the Wizard had not been able to wrest control from her, but in the end stone had outmatched lead, and the Wizard had perished.
And the unknown witch had vanished. No one had seen her since the battle, though rumor ran fast and thick. No one even knew if she were still alive; after all, witches who pushed too hard and too far could die…
Scarecrow thought bitterly that they had no idea of just what could happen to witches, and kept moving.
The sun was low and the moons creeping up the sky when a strong hand landed on his sleeve, and for a heart-stopping instant Scarecrow thought - but the tangle of dark hair and the flashing eyes belonged to Mistress West, and Scarecrow couldn't tell if he was relieved or disappointed.
"Well, well." Her voice was quiet but not soft. "Look what the cat dragged in."
Scarecrow didn't bother trying to twist out of her grip. "Mistress." He kept his own voice low.
"I know someone who'd like to see you." Her smile was not kind, and her tug had him stumbling in her wake, wondering dizzily just who she had in mind.
West led - or towed - him into the palace and to a suite of rooms intended for noble guests. As soon as he stepped over the threshold, Scarecrow could sense Glinda, smell her - the familiar cool scent of vanilla and stone. The rooms held a number of young witches, but West's impatient gesture had them hastening out, and she brought Scarecrow to an inner room and presented him - there was no other word for it - to the tall white figure seated near the clean-swept hearth.
"Roan." Glinda rose from her chair, her eyes as bright as West's. "I knew you'd come back to me."
He stared at her, at her eternal, pale face, and remembered. Nights of passion. Days of careful planning and deceit. Powers leashed and hidden. The intoxication of her kiss; the feel of her hair against his skin. Her easy assumption of his loyalty.
The despair of dying alone.
"No." The word was hoarse, but it fell like a stone in the middle of the room.
Glinda's smile disappeared; her gaze flicked towards West as if to dismiss her, but the Vessel of Truth and Solace grinned and kept her place, arms folded. Glinda looked back to Scarecrow, and her voice was as chilly as her tower. "No?"
The longing was still there, but it was nearly lost beneath the anger. Scarecrow straightened his spine. "You left me to die, Glinda. Twice."
The faintest hint of a flush touched her cheeks. "So did your precious Dorothy, when you failed me," she said waspishly. "And I did send out men to find you, but they could not."
"That's a lie," West drawled provocatively.
Glinda shot her a killing glare. "Be silent, you miserable waste of power."
Scarecrow felt the swelling tide of anger abruptly break, leaving nothing but a bitter chill in his middle, because Mistress West was right. He could tell, from the way Glinda's eyes slid away from his stare.
She doesn't care if she keeps me or not. She just doesn't want Dorothy to have me.
Love or spell or loyalty, whatever it was that had bound them was broken. Scarecrow shook his head once, setting his jaw when Glinda's face went from anger to hurt. "Roan, you are still my consort. I forgive you for your betrayal; just return to me, and all shall be as it was."
She stepped forward, small hands light on his chest, but Scarecrow took her wrists and pulled them away. You were the betrayer, he thought, but the words wouldn't form. You're the one who needs forgiving...and I can't do it.
"That's not my name," was all he could manage. Glinda's eyes widened, then narrowed, but he was already backing away.
She lifted a hand, face twisting in rage, and Scarecrow braced himself; there was no way to outrun magic. He closed his eyes.
But nothing happened. When he opened them again, West's fingers were wrapped around Glinda's wrist, and she was growling in their guttural tongue. He couldn't understand a word of it, but then Glinda yanked her arm free and turned her back on them both.
West collected Scarecrow with an ease that belied the difference in their sizes, and herded him out of the room twice as fast as she'd brought him in. "Let's go before pettiness overcomes pride," she muttered, though she seemed amused.
He couldn't see any reason to protest.
West took Scarecrow to her brothel, which was busy with customers, and back into a private parlor, pushing him casually towards a chair. "Tea?" she asked, crumbling leaves into a pot, but Scarecrow shook his head; he could see the fresh stains on her fingers, and he had had enough of poppy.
West brewed and poured, then threw herself into another chair in a flurry of skirts and regarded Scarecrow with gleaming eyes. She didn't seem hostile.
"What do you want from me, Mistress?" he asked cautiously.
West sipped her tea. "Oh, I think it's more like what do you want from me," she said. "I might even give it to you. If you ask nicely."
Scarecrow blinked. "Sorry?" He had no idea what a cardinal witch might have that he could possibly want.
West rolled her eyes. "Oh, for - Look, you've turned down my ice-bitch of a sister, and good on you for doing it. Seems to me that there was one other option on the table."
"You have Dorothy?" Scarecrow didn't know whether to be angry or alarmed; his hands tightened on the arms of the chair.
"No." West took another sip, and smiled provocatively over the rim of the cup. "But I know where she is. Well, relatively speaking."
Scarecrow regarded her, considering. "Why should I believe you?" he said at last. "For a Vessel of Truth, you lie when it suits you."
West snorted. "The thing about knowing truth is that you understand when it should be kept to yourself. But I'll give you this one, Roan or Lucas or whatever it is you're calling yourself these days, because it's not for you."
She set down her cup with a snap and leaned forward in her chair. "I owe a debt. I'm trying to pay it. That's all."
Scarecrow let go of the chair arms and laced his fingers together, balancing his elbows on his knees and trying to think. West poured herself more tea and sat back again, apparently content to let him do so.
Dorothy lives? If West was telling the truth, and he was starting to believe that she was, then Dorothy was alive. And the flood of relief running through him told him how afraid he'd been that she wasn't, even if he hadn't been willing to admit it to himself.
He was pretty sure he knew where she was, too, though Kansas was a blank unknown. But if West could get him there…
Did he want that?
Scarecrow knew that he still had a choice to make. He'd rejected Glinda and killed Roan, or maybe it was Glinda who'd done the killing. But he could take his new name and disappear into the wilds of Oz; even she would have a hard time tracking him down if he didn't want to be found.
Or he could be Lucas again, and go try to find Dorothy.
His heart leapt up in his chest at the thought, almost choking him. He looked up at Mistress West.
"Am I still under a spell?"
Her brows went up, and she set aside her cup once more and rose to circle around him, muttering under her breath in witches' tongue. After the third circle, she returned to her seat. "Not any more."
The rush of relief mingled with a rush of horror, because if what he felt for Dorothy was no spell, then Glinda had lied. The glimpse of what he would have become if he'd managed to kill Dorothy made him want to vomit.
West chuckled. "Yes, the Mother of the Pure, isn't. But you knew that." She rubbed her nose. "The best part of all of this is that she brought it on herself."
Scarecrow ignored her, concentrating on getting his breathing under control. HIs side ached where the knife had gone in, and he was desperately tired.
Would she even want him, any more?
"You should have taken me up on the tea," West said, amused, and clapped her hands. A few seconds later a young woman appeared.
"Put our guest to bed upstairs. Alone, Peaseblossom." West's grin was knowing as she swept out, and the girl smirked.
But when Peaseblossom showed Scarecrow the cozy little chamber under the eaves, she stayed on the other side of the door when she closed it. Scarecrow was too exhausted to even be grateful, and he stumbled to the bed, asleep before he'd drawn the covers up.
When he finally woke, Scarecrow was provided with a large breakfast and a steaming tub of scented water. He only picked at the food, but the bath was welcome, soothing his strained muscles and knitting flesh. Mistress West must have felt her debt to be considerable.
He sat on the remade bed for a while, thinking. And when the sun was high, he rose and went looking for West.
It was two days' journey by horse to Mistress East's ruined palace, but they had good horses; it appeared that West was a favorite of the new Queen, and the royal stables were all that could be desired.
The whirling cloud still danced in East's shattered tower, and Scarecrow looked up at it warily. It was hard to believe it was the gateway to anywhere, even though he'd seen Dorothy leave and return by it.
"Will it work? Dorothy said she couldn't leave Oz when she tried it before."
West shrugged. Her fingers were still dark with opium, but the ride seemed to have done her good; she looked more awake. "Couldn't tell you. But she left this way, and she's not in Oz any longer."
Scarecrow gave her a dry glance. "That's not reassuring."
West shrugged again, uncaring, and he gave up. "What do I do?"
She waved at the twisting column. "Just...go." Then snapped her fingers. "Oh - here."
West produced a piece of paper from nowhere and handed it to him. Scarecrow squinted at the hasty writing. "What is it?"
"Where she said she'd be." West's lips quirked. "I don't think she thought you would actually come for it."
The little block of text didn't make much sense, but Scarecrow recognized the word Kansas, and that was enough. He folded it away into his pocket, and looked back to West. "Thank you."
"Tell her I've paid my debt. If you make it." The humor was gone, but for the first time she looked kind. "Go on."
He had to pick his way through the roofless rooms to the center of the little palace, but when he glanced back West was waiting, her wind-stirred skirts the only movement about her. The moat was dry sand, and whatever had lived in it was gone; there was only the endless swirl of dust and air in the little round room. Scarecrow took a deep breath, held it, and stepped into the tornado.
It was unpleasantly like being hoisted up on the pole, a rising up not at all under his control, and Scarecrow panicked, struggling as the wind whipped him around. But there was nothing to fight against, and after a few terrifying moments he managed to leash his fear, huddling up into a ball and hoping there was nothing larger than dust in the wind with him. The tumbling grew faster as he rose higher, and he squeezed his eyes shut, no longer sure which way was up. Nausea surged, and he clamped down ruthlessly, struggling to hold on as everything whirled around him...it was getting darker…
He let go.
Something was licking his face.
Scarecrow opened his eyes, muzzily wondering if he'd been having a bad dream and Toto was trying to wake him. But it was far too large a tongue, and turned out to belong to a black-and-white cow. Several others stood nearby, looking at him with interest.
Scarecrow pushed the heavy muzzle away and mopped his face with one arm. He appeared to be in a pasture, on a sunny day. Fortunately, he had not landed anywhere but clean grass.
He sat up slowly, feeling much less sore than he expected, and looked around. The pasture wasn't familiar, but neither was it unfamiliar; nothing but fences seemed to stand between him and the horizon. Did I make it?
A faint growling noise reached his ears, and something slid rapidly along a straight line about half a mile away across the field, but he couldn't see it clearly from his angle and it was gone too soon. The friendly cow tried to nuzzle him, and Scarecrow struggled to his feet to avoid another tongue bath, patting her absently. All of the cows had numbered tags in their ears - not something he'd seen before.
Scarecrow stretched carefully, then froze. High up in the blue sky rode a tiny, single moon.
I'm definitely not in Oz.
He followed one of the fences in the direction the moving thing had gone, and eventually found the pasture bordered by a strange dark road. Another rising growl proved to be a fast-moving carriage of sorts, and Scarecrow got hastily out of its way as it rolled along. He remembered Dorothy telling him stories about her world and the vehicle she'd arrived in. They were faster than he'd imagined.
He walked along the road for a while, stripping off his jacket when the sun grew too warm; he had no idea where he was going, but the cows could answer no questions. The little shop by the side of the road was a relief when he found it, even if it was completely alien when he walked in, filled with chilly air and colors that all but seared Scarecrow's eyes.
But the little piece of paper worked its magic. The man behind the counter gave him a sympathetic smile, directions, and a strange flimsy cup filled with water. Cold water.
Scarecrow used half of it to rinse the sweat and cow from his face, and drank the rest as he continued walking. He wasn't that far from Dorothy's home, it seemed, just a few miles, and he blessed Mistress West silently for whatever she'd done to get him so close.
Still, the sun was sinking past the horizon by the time Scarecrow turned down the little lane the man had told him to look for. He wondered dryly what he would do if Dorothy wasn't there, but his feet kept moving all the same.
The grassy plain that the house sat on was…intimidating. There were such open spaces in Oz, but Scarecrow had never seen them, and the horizon here seemed to go on forever, as if this world of Kansas were bigger by far. But the breeze was sweet and the grass was lush, and the old house looked welcoming.
Still, it took all Scarecrow's courage to knock on the door.
The woman who opened it was older than he was, and he had to swallow back disappointment before he could speak. "Hello, I...I'm looking for Dorothy?"
The woman eyed him warily, then glanced back over her shoulder before looking at him again. "Who should I say is asking?"
He licked dry lips, took a deep breath, and chose once more. "My name...my name is Lucas."
Dorothy stared at the man in the doorway. He was familiar, sure enough, thinner and pale and eyes as sad as the day she'd met him, and she wasn't at all sure he was real.
She wanted to throw her arms around him, and at the same time she wanted to smack him upside the head and scream at him. But her mother was standing right there, looking nervous, so Dorothy compromised by sliding past them both and out into the evening. "It's okay, Mom. Come on, I want to talk to you." She took Lucas' elbow and tugged him away from the house.
He followed her obediently around the side of the barn even after she let go, and when they were safely out of sight of her parents Dorothy whirled around to glare at Lucas. "You tried to kill me, you son of a bitch!"
"I know." He simply looked at her, without any defense at all, and Dorothy had the queasy feeling that she could slide a knife into him as easily as she had before, and that he would let her. "I'm sorry. I...I think it was a spell, Glinda's spell. But that's not an excuse."
She ran a hand through her hair, exasperated. "Why are you here?"
Wordlessly he held out a small piece of paper, now crumpled and damp. Dorothy took it, and recognized the writing; she'd given it to West before leaving, because - she wasn't sure why. Some hope that if Roan lost his memory again, things could just start over? Looks like it didn't work that way. Big surprise.
"I know I don't deserve anything," Lucas said quietly. "But you made me an offer, once." He swallowed.
"That was before you tried to kill me," Dorothy pointed out acidly, then sighed. "Though I suppose I kind of did the same thing to you."
Lucas snorted. "You sent people to rescue me. That's not the same thing."
"You could have died before they got there." The argument was weak, and Dorothy tossed up her hands. The way he was looking at her was like those early days, like she'd hung both of Oz's moons in its sky. But she also remembered how those days had ended. "Did Glinda throw you out?"
Lucas winced. The delicate sunset light made him look almost ethereal, which was absolutely ridiculous on someone over six feet. "No. I saw her, but - whatever was between us, it's gone."
The pulse of hurt was surprisingly sharp, and Dorothy crossed her arms, huddling into her sweater even though the breeze was warm. "So I'm just your second choice, is that it?" Not that she was sure she wanted to be his choice at all, but still.
Lucas' eyes seemed to get even sadder, and then he made her mouth fall open by slowly dropping down to his knees. He rested his hands on his thighs and looked up at her. "Glinda was Roan's choice, but Roan is dead. Glinda killed him, I think," he added thoughtfully, while Dorothy wondered if he'd lost his sanity during the trip from Oz. His gaze caught hers. "Lucas would choose you. If you would have me."
This is a man, Dorothy realized, who has given up his entire world to find me. She wasn't sure if that was supremely brave, or just really self-centered, but the Lucas she remembered was much more the one than the other. "I didn't like Roan much," she muttered, and saw his lips twitch a fraction, but he didn't move.
Dorothy sighed, frustrated. "I'm not ready for this," she said, but slid to her own knees and reached out to take Lucas' hands. They were as warm and sandpapery as she remembered, and gentle as his fingers laced with hers.
"Look. We both have things we need to work through here," Dorothy began. "I'm not sure I'm ready to forgive you, and I'm not sure you should forgive me too easily either. No," she told him, squeezing his hands when he would have interrupted. "I used you, Lucas, and I lied to you. I know that. And I put you in some pretty dangerous situations with my choices."
Lucas' mouth opened, then closed, and he nodded slowly. Dorothy took a deep breath and continued. "If Glinda really had you under a spell to try to kill me, then I can't see how that was your fault." She wasn't even sure what she was more angry about - his trying to kill her, or his desperate desire to forget.
Lucas shook his head. "It was my cowardice that let her enspell me," he said. "I couldn't decide who I was, and my fear gave her a hold on me."
There was a lot to argue about in that statement, Dorothy thought, but now really wasn't the time. Before she could say anything, however, Lucas raised one of her hands to his face and pressed a gentle kiss to her fingers, and a lump rose in her throat as he looked at her over their joined hands.
"You're my east," he said softly. "Lucas' new day. I was no one when I met you, Dorothy Gale, but the man you made me is the man I'd rather be."
Well, fuck. Dorothy blinked stinging eyes and tried to regain control of a heart that wanted to melt down into her toes. "Lucas," she started, and had to stop and swallow hard. "I - I'm not saying no. But, I think we both need time here."
He raised his brows, waiting, and she went on. "I need to - to stop being mad at you. And you need to be sure you want to stay here. This place isn't much like Oz."
Lucas gave her the slow sweet smile that had stolen her heart the very first day. "I can wait."
They still had a ton of things to talk about, Dorothy thought, like his life as Roan and her complicated history with Oz, but...there was time.
Time, and a reminder that there really was more to the universe than she'd ever expected.
Dorothy leaned forward. She meant to make it a quick brush of lips, just a promise for later, but his mouth was so soft, so gentle against hers.
She'd missed him, so much she'd refused to let herself think about it. Having him back, having Lucas back, well - taking time might be a challenge.
His hand was warm on her cheek by the time she forced herself to let him go. Dorothy pressed her forehead to his, only just realizing that she could barely see him - the sun was past the horizon. "Tell you what," she said quietly. "It's a beautiful night. Let's go watch the stars."
Lucas smiled again. "As you wish, mistress," he said, and she had to laugh a little.
Magic, Dorothy thought, could come in many forms.