Post-season fix-it fic, because what on Earth were the writers smoking, with that last scene? I do realize that I am opening with an overused trope, but see above statement. Continuity, can we has it?
The usual disclaimers apply, and spoilers through the entire season.
Also, because most of these characters are terrible in some way: the opinions expressed by the characters are not necessarily those of the author.
"I've come to take you home."
Dorothy stared at the man standing so impossibly in the middle of a grassfield, and shook her head. "This is home. This is what I had to get back to - "
"We need you, Dorothy. Your mother needs you." His eyes were calm, no pleading, nothing, and Dorothy frowned.
"Wait a minute. How does Jane know about you? I barely spoke with her, how'd she find you and - fuck, I am dreaming - "
Abruptly it was Glinda standing there, malicious triumph on her narrow face. "You ran away," she said, voice rich with contempt. "You left them all behind."
Dorothy wanted to smack her, wrap her up in her own skirts and hang her upside down like the last time, but when she clenched her hands the gauntlets wouldn't come, and Glinda started to laugh - Toto was barking -
Dorothy opened her eyes. The blank whiteness of the hospital ceiling met her gaze, and she exhaled, willing her heart to slow down. Her temple ached dully, but that was better than the sharper pain of earlier.
She could tell without turning her head that it was morning, which was a relief. After three days, even in a private room, she was learning a new sympathy for the patients who screamed and threw things.
Sighing, she sat up and swung her feet off the bed. Her head pounded briefly, then subsided, and Dorothy stood up and padded into the tiny bathroom. Minor bruising and abrasions, minor concussion. Why am I still here?
Except she knew why. Being found unconscious in the ruins of Karen Chapman's home two weeks after the tornado and her own disappearance would have been enough for an overnight stay. It was her loss of memory over those two weeks that was the reason she was still under observation.
Amnesia, hah. It's such a cliché.
But there was absolutely no way to explain what had happened to her - not without the threat of being moved to the long-term care ward, the one with the lockable doors.
Dorothy didn't think that they'd keep her there indefinitely if she did talk about Oz, but she didn't want to end up with everyone thinking she was crazy, either.
The woman in the mirror never looked good - it was the lighting in the hospital's bathrooms, they bought the bulbs at a discount - but Dorothy thought cautiously that bed-head aside, she was improving. The bruise along her temple was a riot of colors and the stitches didn't help, but nightmare notwithstanding she looked less...lost.
She washed her face and brushed her hair, then slowly pulled down the collar of the sweatshirt she'd worn to bed. There on her collarbone was the fading proof that it wasn't all her imagination.
And it's not a bruise from debris, either. She could distinctly remember Lucas' mouth there, and it gave her insides a painful twist, because that made her remember his hand around her throat, and the way he looked silhouetted against the sky, blood trickling down the pole and into the dirt.
Dorothy shoved the memories away, all of them, and glared at her reflection. "If they don't let me out today I'm signing myself out AMA."
But when Dr. Patterson examined her later that morning, he surprised Dorothy by ordering her discharge. "I still don't like your memory loss," he said, tucking his ophthalmoscope into his breast pocket. "But there's no timeline for memory recovery, and otherwise you're fine. Just take it easy for a week or two, and come right back in if you have dizziness or a bad headache, you know the drill."
He gave her a smile, and Dorothy smiled back. Pete Patterson was about her uncle's age and one of her favorite doctors at the hospital; he was always calm, and so gentle he should have been a pediatrician. "We miss you around here," he added. "But take your time coming back to work. And I know you know where to find them, but these are the numbers for the crisis hotline."
He handed Dorothy a card, his smile going sympathetic, and she accepted it without arguing. They'd all talked carefully around it, earlier, how her putative memory loss was probably linked to a traumatic event, and she had no way to reassure them. Besides. Plenty of that was traumatic. "Thanks, I'll keep it in mind."
Dr. Patterson nodded, and patted her shoulder. "Go ahead and call your aunt to come get you - by the time she gets here we should have your release papers signed."
Hospital personnel did have some perks - Dorothy was able to cajole the orderly to just walk her and her aunt out rather than making her ride in a wheelchair. Stepping outside into the sunlight felt like release from prison, and Dorothy tipped her head up towards the endless sky and let the cool air wash her lungs clean.
Her aunt smiled. "Come on, dear, let's get you home."
A month later, the bruises and stitches were all gone, and Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had stopped treating her like she was made of glass, mostly. Dorothy went back to being a nurse, and tried to forget driving a knife into flesh, and the limp body of a little girl under her hands.
And she realized...nothing had really changed.
Kansas was home, yes. And home had grown too small years ago. Now that she knew Oz was out there, somewhere on the other side of a meteorological phenomenon, Kansas seemed drab, almost boring; Oz's vivid landscapes and the unexpectedness of magic haunted Dorothy's thoughts, even though she'd seen the latter do much more harm than good.
She could get no answers from Karen Chapman. The woman had bled out and died in her cellar, and had been buried before Dorothy had even returned. Of the unknown man dead in the mobile home, the police knew nothing.
I wanted to be more. And I blew it.
The unpleasant thought tickled in the back of Dorothy's brain as she went about her days, looking after patients and doing endless paperwork. The one advantage of her "amnesia" was that Sam wasn't pestering her for another dinner date. He asked after her health every time he saw her, with the careful sympathy that made Dorothy want to scream, but at least she didn't have to manufacture excuses. Because I was only with you because you were the easiest thing wasn't something she particularly wanted to explain.
And she couldn't be sure that what she and Lucas had shared had been anything more than two desperate people thrown together and trying to survive; that too was a cliché.
Except, judging from the way her heart hurt every time she thought of Lucas, it had been more.
Until he tried to kill you, anyway. Get your head on straight and don't be that woman. Lucas was gone; Roan was the man living in that body. If the body still lived at all.
Dorothy smiled at the intake nurse and collected the latest reports from the E.R. before heading back upstairs, letting the smile drop as she climbed the steps. That was the worst of it, really. She had no regrets about talking the Witch of the East through the steps to kill herself - the woman had been torturing them for information, for pity's sake - and Glinda deserved whatever she got, in Dorothy's opinion.
Suddenly tired, Dorothy sat down on the staircase. The echoes of her steps faded away, and she stared at the dead moth on top of the nearest emergency floodlight without really seeing it.
I didn't have to do that. But I did anyway.
He hadn't fought her, that was the worst of it; he'd just clamped his hand to his side and lay panting as fury drove her to put him back where she'd found him. Conscience had prodded her far enough to wrap a crude bandage around his torso when she'd tied his arms down, but it hadn't been enough.
She hadn't actively murdered him, but Dorothy knew she was probably responsible for his death.
Yeah, he tried to kill me. But I could have just walked away.
Part of her wanted to explain it to someone, even if they couldn't give her absolution. To pour out not just her guilt, but her mourning, for Lucas, for Sylvie, for the mother of her long dreams. For Oz itself, so twisted and afraid.
She even missed Toto, and she'd never been a dog person.
Dorothy rubbed her temple and pushed to her feet. The tears wouldn't come, and there wasn't a shoulder to cry on anyway. Just get on with it. You're home; you'll get settled eventually.
Two days later, she was just finishing up with Mrs. Clifford when she was paged to the front desk. "You have a visitor," Susan at reception informed her cheerfully, and pointed across the small lobby.
The woman perusing the informational posters was not someone Dorothy recognized; in a town as small as Lucas, you got to know all the faces, and as far as Dorothy knew there were no South Asian families anywhere in the neighborhood. She was a good three inches shorter than Dorothy and looked about twenty years older, and in her slacks and cardigan she was a perfectly ordinary figure; but when she turned and lifted her eyes, Dorothy felt the shock of power.
"I'm going to take a quick break," she said to Susan. "Back in ten minutes."
"Take your time," Susan said, still cheerful. Dorothy nodded, and went over to the woman.
"Who are you?" she asked, keeping her voice low.
The woman smiled up at her, and held out a hand; in it was a card, printed with five dots in a rough circle.
Dorothy stared at it for a long, long moment, then looked up again. "Let's take this outside."
She had no idea how she would move the woman if she didn't acquiesce, but a few seconds later they were stepping into the bright day, and off the sidewalk that led to the hospital's front door. "All right, explain," Dorothy demanded.
The woman's smile widened. "I am Mother South," she said. "And I've come to ask you to return to Oz."