Title: Follow You Home
Characters: Cain and DG, but if you saw 'em in the miniseries, they're here or mentioned. Plus some OCs
Summary: DG left the Zone. Cain followed.
Disclaimer: The original characters belong to L. Frank Baum and their respective actors. The current characters belong to Sci-Fi, the movie folks and their respective actors. The rest of 'em are mine. Title comes from song of same name by Nickelback.
Wyatt Cain was in a rather foul mood when he finally arrived in Central City
Wyatt Cain was in a rather foul mood when he finally arrived in Central City. But, it wasn't the drive in the old, beat-up truck that had him steamed; nor was it the bad weather that had held them up for two days. It wasn't even that he'd been recalled from the field and it wasn't that DG had disappeared.
It was that no one had told him sooner.
The former Tin Man nearly kicked the door open as he caught the handle and pushed his way out of the truck. He looked up to the entrance of the royal residence and saw Glitch and Raw standing in the doorway. Glitch gave his old friend a nervous wave and Raw frowned as Cain's anger radiated up from the street.
"I don't see why he's mad at us. We didn't run away," Glitch mumbled quickly to the Viewer as Cain started up the stairs, two at a time. "Hi, Cain," Glitch said with a forced smile. "What brings you by today?" Cain breezed past the both of them and Glitch glanced at Raw then shrugged. Together, they turned and moved back into the palace.
"Mister Cain," Ahamo said with a hint of surprise as Cain burst into the study. The Queen was sitting at her desk, looking over some documents while Ahamo was pouring her a cup of tea. Cain forced himself to remember that he was still in the presence of the Queen and gave her a polite nod after removing his hat.
She stood gracefully and moved around the desk. "Mister Cain, you did not need to come back-" Cain lurched forward slightly and shook his head.
"Beg your pardon, ma'am," Cain said, forcing himself to remember his manners, even if they were all practically the same age. "But, if the Princess is missing..." The Queen shook her head lightly and gave him a royal smile.
"DG is not missing, exactly." Cain blinked and cocked his head slightly. He was confused then, as the message he'd received said that she was gone and no one knew where she'd gone. To him, that meant missing. Of course, in the first five minutes after receiving the message, his mind had conjured every possibility from a kidnapping to drowning in the lake to a mine collapse.
Of course, why DG would be in an unstable mineshaft was beyond him. But it was DG.
"Where exactly is she then?" he asked slowly, his temper beginning to rise again. The Queen glanced at her husband and then to the floor before turning back to face Cain.
"She's gone back to the Other Side," Ahamo said pointedly. He threw another glance at his wife and moved to her side, still holding the teacup. Setting it down on the desk next to her, Ahamo turned and held out his hand toward the two sitting chairs near the window.
Cain moved across the room with Ahamo and took a seat. Ahamo adjusted his jacket and shifted around in his chair for a moment, trying to get comfortable, while Cain was sitting still as a statue, back straight and not blinking.
"Seems our girl figured out how to hijack a travel storm," Ahamo said with a chuckle. He cleared his throat and shifted again when his wife and Cain didn't laugh.
"How did this-" Cain started, but closed his eyes for a moment and focused on the floor. "When?" Ahamo glanced back to his wife and bit his cheek. They had forgotten just how long Cain had been away. And news from Central City didn't exactly get to where he had been quickly.
Cain took their silence as his opportunity to think about when he'd last heard from DG. Granted, in the last few years, she'd had royal things to attend to, and he needed to stay busy, so he volunteered to help the Resistance members repair the damage done by the witch and her Longcoats. It had also given him time to reconnect with Jeb.
When Cain realized he couldn't even remember when he'd last spoken to DG, he became worried. Forcing his anger away – because the last thing he needed to do was yell at the Queen of the Outer Zone, especially when he was not responsible for DG or her actions – he asked again: "When?"
Glancing up to catch Ahamo's eye, Cain realized that he seemed to be more upset at her being gone than her parents. And that bothered him a great deal. The Queen moved over to his side and placed a hand on Cain's shoulder. "Nearly seven cycles," she said quietly.
Cain sucked in a breath and looked to the floor again.
"Seven?" he breathed out. There was no holding back the anger, so he did the only thing he could think of, which was to get as far away from the Queen as possible. He shot up from the chair and moved to the other end of the desk, pacing a few times before looking up her parents.
"Seven cycles? Seven!" he said incredulously. Shaking his head, Cain's hands moved to his hips and he couldn't help but laugh. "What did you tell the people?" he asked with a wave in the direction of the city. "That she's locked up in a tower and being guarded by a dragon?" he spat out, thinking back to one of the bedtime stories he used to read to Jeb.
The Queen dropped – rather gracefully, Cain noted – into the chair he'd just been sitting in and frowned. "We thought she would have returned by now," the Queen said, reaching out for Ahamo. "Get it out of her system..." Ahamo patted his wife's hand and looked up to Cain.
"When she didn't come back, we-"
"Sent for me," Cain finished for him. Ahamo nodded and let go of his wife's hand. Standing up, he took a few steps toward the desk and explained.
"We didn't realize she- She never let on that there was a problem. If we had known she was having..." Ahamo sighed and looked back to his wife. Cain noticed that her eyes were watering and realized that they were just as in the dark as him.
"Seven cycles," he repeated. Both of them looked up guiltily. "Why did you wait?" The Queen rose and moved behind Ahamo and pulled open the top drawer of her desk. She pulled out a yellow envelope and passed it across the desk to Cain. He looked at it for a moment before lifting the small flap and removing the folded page inside. Cain gave the page a quick glance before he started reading, noticing that the handwriting became shaky about halfway down.
I can't bear to use the whole "It's not you, it's me" break-up speech.
Unfortunately, it's the only excuse I have. I am a coward, because I
can't bring myself to tell you this face-to-face.
I am so sorry. I tried. I really really tried, but... You've done so
much for me and I have failed you.
I've got nothing against the Zone, but there are certain luxuries on
the other side that I'm just used to, and... and I really thought I
I just need some time.
Please, just give me some time.
And don't tell Cain, because he's finally... Please don't tell Cain.
I love you.
Cain dropped his hand and let the letter and envelope fall to the desk. The Queen moved around the chair and leaned on the desk. "I will not force her to return." Cain blinked and faced the Queen with a look of disbelief. "If she wants to come back-" The Queen swallowed and took a deep breath. "But if she wants to stay," she paused, looking over to her husband. "I will respect her decision." Ahamo nodded and let his eyes fall to the letter.
"I just want to know that she's all right," the Queen directed to Cain. Their eyes locked and he nodded once. She wasn't ordering him to go; she was asking.
Cain stuck his head into Glitch's lab and saw Raw watching the scientist fiddling with some mechanical device. He moved in and placed a hand on either man's shoulder and gave them each a smile and nod as they turned to look at him.
"Should have seen-" Raw started with a frown. Cain let go of Glitch and moved his other hand to Raw's other shoulder. Giving the Viewer a slight shake, Cain leaned down slightly to eye-level.
"It's not your fault." Raw nodded, but Cain could tell the man didn't believe it, so while he turned to look at Glitch, Cain continued to hold on to Raw and give him encouragement. "Do you know where she went?" Glitch shook his head.
"I've read everything about travel storms. They require magic to work; usually the person who conjures it has magic in them. However, it's been proven that anyone can conjure a storm, as long as there's someone with magic at the destination. The problem seems to be in the steering. We went to the prison to ask the Longcoats how they managed to control the things, but, as you might expect, they weren't very forthcoming. Azkadellia said that the witch could direct the storms same as you would drive a truck, but she'd had how many annuals of practice?" Glitch asked with a shrug, not really expecting an answer.
"And no one noticed DG playing with travel storms?" Cain asked, finally letting go of Raw as Glitch moved to the other side of his lab. Cain could see stacks of books from the library, as well as some he was sure were not part of the royal collection. Glitch shook his head and glanced back to the item he'd been working on.
"I've been trying to build a device that will detect magic."
"The Other Side isn't the Zone, Glitch. What makes you think that DG's magic even works over there? She didn't even know she had magic until Tutor showed her," Cain pointed out, causing Glitch to turn and raise a finger.
"Because we're having this conversation, Cain." Cain cocked his head slightly and shot a look to Raw, who shrugged. "The Longcoats used a travel storm to go to the other side and find DG, and that same storm brought her back here. Then we all met and had our adventure and here we are," Glitch said with a huff and threw his hands up as if the explanation was obvious.
"If DG's magic didn't work, the storm would never have found her and she would have never saved any of us and we wouldn't be having this conversation. So, it has to work." Glitch nodded at the end for emphasis, not wanting to admit to either of them that he didn't know if a storm would work twice.
Glitch was explaining the basic science behind the travel storm for Cain's benefit when Ahamo arrived with Hank in tow. "How does the storm know it's safe to touch down? DG said that storms like that usually cause a panic." Glitch shrugged, because he really didn't have an answer for that.
"Just make sure you go at night," Hank threw out. "Folks can't see it..." His hands were in his pockets and he rocked slightly on his heels. Ahamo nodded between Hank and Cain.
"Hank, here, has offered to help prepare you for the Other Side." Cain nodded to Hank and watched Glitch dive under the table for a piece of his 'DG-detector' for a moment before looking back to Hank.
"How hard can it be?" he asked with a shrug.
"Without knowing where DG is, exactly," Ahamo started then shook his head. "The state I grew up in is... three times the size of the Zone." Cain took a moment to do the math in his head. "And there are forty-eight states – many smaller and some much larger – not to mention Canada and Mexico."
"And that's assuming she's still in the States," Hank added, turning to Ahamo. Everyone looked at him, causing Hank to stammer slightly. "Well, the day we came over," he waved. "Deej and Em were arguing about her wanting to go to Australia." Ahamo sighed heavily and looked to the ceiling.
"What's the problem?" Cain asked, seeing the shared look between the two men. Ahamo rubbed at his jaw and looked back to Cain.
"Well, it takes a lot more to cross an ocean than it does a river or a lake," he said with a nod toward the window and the view of the lake to the south.
"Course, she had no cash when she went," Hank said with a nod. "So she wouldn't have been able to get a ticket right off."
"Seven cycles," Cain pointed out. Ahamo and Hank looked at each other and nodded.
"What are the chances she went back to the farmhouse?" Ahamo asked Hank. "She didn't take much in the way of clothes, so maybe she stopped there and-" Even Glitch shook his head at that assumption.
"We've been gone too long," Hank said, shaking his head. "She'd have far too much to explain to Gulch and the folks at the Hilltop. If she did go to there, it was long enough to get her bike, assuming it was still there." Cain had tuned the men out and was now considering the ways this could go wrong, aside from finding DG – as he wouldn't stop until he found her and wrung her neck. Even if the storm dropped him within a few yards, he'd still have to grab her and drag her into the storm.
But what if she wasn't right near the touchdown point? Would the storm just sit there and spin until he returned? What if it dissipated before he could find DG? He had no idea how to conjure another one, let alone have the magic required to do so.
"How Cain return?" Raw asked, hearing the thoughts running through Cain's mind. Hank looked to Ahamo and both men looked to Glitch.
"Maybe we're looking at this the wrong way," Ahamo said with a slight smile. "What if it isn't that she doesn't want to come back, but that she can't?" And that opened up a whole new set of possibilities for Cain's overactive imagination. Suddenly, he imagined that DG assumed they had abandoned her there and wouldn't even give him the time of day.
'What if you get there and find her and neither of you can get back. Then you'll be stuck in a strange land and you won't know how to act or what to say and-' And then everything made sense; Cain knew why DG left and he couldn't be angry with her. Well, he could be angry that she went without telling him, but not for why she went.
Feeling a set of eyes on him, Cain looked up and saw Raw staring at him, understanding written all over the Viewer's face.
'Still,' Cain directed to Raw, unsure if he'd actually heard the thoughts or had just figured it out for himself. 'She should have told me.' Raw cocked his head to one side and gave Cain a look.
Glitch looked back to the device and then jumped. "I need to talk to Azkadellia about this." He breezed past Hank and Ahamo, who nodded to each other and followed him out, leaving Cain and Raw to trail behind. Cain breathed heavily again and had taken one step toward the door when Raw caught his arm.
"Why Cain care?" he asked simply, referring to Cain's last thought. Cain looked away as he wondered the same thing. Why did the fact that DG left without saying anything bother him so much? When he left, he'd given her the courtesy of telling her, not that he needed her permission, of course. She'd wished him well and seen him off, so why did she think he wouldn't give her the same response.
'Because you wouldn't,' his brain answered. 'You would have locked her in her room to keep her from going anywhere.'
Why was he so concerned? He wasn't her father or her brother; she was an adult and surely didn't still need him to keep her out of trouble. Not that he could have kept her out of trouble anyway. Why did he think he was the only one capable of protecting her? She had proven, over and over in the first week they'd met, that she could handle herself in any situation, hadn't she?
He'd made a promise, though. Maybe he was still running off the delusion that he had some duty to fulfill.
Hank and Emily had taken to scouring the city for some clothes that Cain could wear so that he wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb, regardless of where the travel storm dropped him. He wasn't too happy about giving up his duster, his vest or his gun. He absolutely drew the line at his fedora. When Emily told him that the hat would make him stand out in a crowd, he rather childishly conceded.
In case someone asked, Hank suggested that Cain stick with the Tin Man-angle and reminded him that the proper Other Side-term was either policeman or sheriff and Emily used her inherent skills to fashion him a passable badge, as long as no one looked too closely.
Glitch had demanded to go along, in case there was a problem conjuring the storm, but Cain convinced him to stay. "From everything they've told us," Cain said, nodding toward the Nurture Units. "Your zipper would be rather difficult to explain." Glitch let his shoulders slump and Cain slapped him on the back in a brotherly-fashion. "'sides, you'd have better luck summoning a storm from this side." Glitch nodded and smiled before he turned back to the table.
"You'll need this, in case DG is farther from the exit point than we assumed," he said, passing a small, rectangular device to Cain. Cain rotated the thing around, not sure which way was up. Glitch pointed to a small bulb and looked back to the table. "When you're getting close, that should light up. Can't get more specific with it, I'm afraid." Glitch motioned to his head and laughed. "Can't remember how."
Cain nodded and gave Glitch a smile. "You don't hear from me in four days..."
Glitch nodded and repeated his instructions for the fourth time in an hour: "Wait another day... then send Hank and Emily."
Cain nodded and secured the device in the pocket of his jacket. "Right. We don't need all of us stuck over there." Taking a deep breath, Cain patted each of his pockets once and looked to his friend. "I'll find her."
Glitch gave him a nod but didn't respond. Instead, he moved to the door and held it open for Cain.
Cain stepped out of the travel storm and had a few seconds of heavy breathing as he watched the storm dissipate. No amount of describing the feeling could accurately reflect the feeling that that particular mode of transportation left in one's stomach, he noted. Hopefully, he would only have to experience it once more in his lifetime, because he wasn't terribly fond of it.
Hank, Emily and Ahamo had given him a crash course, as they called it, in the Other Side, trying to cover as many bases as they could think of. He glanced up and noted that there were stars in the sky, and he could see a glow in the east – sunrise would likely be in a few hours. He remembered that there would only be one sun here, instead of the two he was used to. Looking ahead, Cain could make out average-sized brush, as well as trees off in the distance.
He was on a slight incline and took a moment to breathe deeply. The air was most definitely different, but he could breathe. Turning to his right slightly, Cain's eyes went wide and he did a double-take. Eyes still wide, Cain turned slowly and took in the sight below him. Hank and Emily had suggested that he would cross over into a populated area, but this was impossible.
Below Wyatt Cain, the cities and towns of Greater Los Angeles were preparing for another day.
It had taken Cain the better part of two hours to work his way down the mountainside and into the edge of the populated area. He pulled out the device Glitch had given him and noticed a small blinking light on the face. Holding up the small box, he turned around and noted that the dot moved to the opposite side of the screen.
'That way, then,' he sighed, turning around again and moving down the street.
At the first major intersection of roadways, Cain found a collection of large metal boxes with newspapers behind glass. Judging by the headlines, he knew that he was currently in the vicinity of Los Angeles, New York and Pasadena, though none of those meant anything to him.
He continued down the street, noticing that he was moving from a residential area into the commerce section, and there were many more automobiles than he'd ever seen at one time in Central City, though none of them looked like the vehicles of the Outer Zone.
He noticed that the blinking light was moving to his right, but he wasn't about to leave a major thoroughfare until he knew how far east - 'West. Everything is reversed here,' - he was to go. The last thing he needed was to get himself lost, expert tracker or not.
He assumed he'd traveled at least three leagues when the dot grew brighter and was nearly due... west of his location. He was also back into a residential zone, but noticed that no one seemed to be paying him any mind. In the Outer Zone, twenty people would have already known his business.
The roadway turned to the left and then veered right again, coming to a dead end at another road. Cain was concerned, as the blinking light indicated that DG was ahead of him, but the light Glitch had pointed to had yet to go off. Looking up, Cain noticed an automobile turn at a corner a few yards south, so he decided to press on in that direction.
As he reached the corner, Cain could see a landscaped entrance ahead.
"What was she doing before she left?" Cain asked Glitch as Emily brought a tray of sandwiches into the lab. The two men, as well as Raw, hadn't left the room for hours. Glitch reached for a sandwich and took a large bite.
"Me mus eh essons," he replied with a mouthful of bread. Cain looked at him over invisible glasses and glared. Glitch swallowed and repeated: "She was in lessons. Or she was drawing... And when she wasn't, she was at the museums." Cain leaned back in his chair and stared at the tray of sandwiches.
Cain crossed the roadway and followed the paved path around to the right. It seemed that most people traveled by automobile, but he wasn't terribly concerned until he saw the guard. Emily had told him to flash the badge if necessary, and he'd heard every story in the Zone as a Tin Man; surely he could come up with something believable.
He reached into the jacket pocket for the badge and pulled it out as he neared. The guard stepped out of his little station and gave Cain a long glance. "Mornin'," he said with a nod.
Cain nodded back and held up the badge, noticing that the guard seemed to relax at the sight of it. "Mornin' to you, as well."
"What can I do for ya?" the guard asked. Cain took a quick glance of the area and gave the man a polite smile.
"Looking for a girl. Dark hair, blue eyes. Mid to late-twenties," he rattled off, remembering what Hank told him to say to sound like Other Side-law enforcement.
The guard shrugged and gave Cain a half-laugh. "Lotta girls fit that description 'round these parts." Cain gave him a half-laugh in response.
"Name's DG," he added, figuring there was a chance she'd given her name to someone. The guard shook his head again and sighed. A moment later, he looked at Cain.
"We got a DG, fits that description. Might be who you're lookin' for. She in trouble?" Cain shook his head, unsure he would be that lucky.
"Just have some questions." The guard nodded and held up a finger before turning and reaching into his booth. He pulled back holding a slip of emerald green paper and held it out for Cain.
"She's usually at the Gallery," he said, pointing to a building on Cain's left, off in the distance. "Show that at the guard station 'round the corner," he said, pointing behind him to another small building about fifty feet away from where they stood. "When you get to the circle, hang a left and follow Vista all the way down."
Cain took the slip of paper and nodded to the guard. "Much obliged."
DG stood off to the side as the couple pointed back and forth to different parts of the patio. She wasn't usually on wedding planner-duty, but Sasha was stuck on the highway. And since she had an amazingly high tolerance for patrons, the higher-ups suggested that DG fill in here and there.
It was her own fault, as she couldn't help but volunteer for every little job that came up. Really, she was just trying to keep in good with the management, because she needed to keep the job. It was dumb luck that she'd gotten the job at all, without decent references and a lack of a resume. Not to mention not even having a drivers license.
She'd been in on the free entrance day and run into her art teacher who, it turned out, knew the curator. And, it just so happened that she had been standing next to an older woman when a question about the displayed artwork came up that the docent couldn't answer. But she could, and she did.
Impressed with her knowledge on the subject, not to mention the glowing reference from her teacher, the curator had asked her background and qualifications. She'd told him that due to family issues, she hadn't been able to go to college, though she'd always been interested in art and spent much of her free time outside the family business at the art museums and learned from the artists and curators there. Of course, when he'd asked the names of the museums, she'd had to make up something rather quickly.
She couldn't exactly tell the man that the museums were on the other side of a twister.
Cain found the circle – or, at least the closest he could find to that effect – and noticed a sign for the North Vista. The walk went off to his left, as the guard instructed. As he walked along, Cain pulled the DG-detector out of his pocket again and his heart stopped for a moment.
The bulb was flashing.
"I'd like to go look at the Tea Room again; have lunch," the woman said to her fiancée. He nodded and they both smiled to DG, who nodded to them and stepped back so they could pass. She watched them walk past and turned her head back as she shifted to head back into the Gallery when she saw him.
Cain cleared the last high shrub and saw a trio standing past the archway ahead of him. The woman on the left said something to the man next to her and they moved off to his right. But his gaze was locked on the third person.
Wyatt Cain wasn't a man of fancy words. Actually, he wasn't a man of many words at all. So when the only thing he could think as he looked at DG was that she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, he sure meant it.
DG forced herself to look away from Cain for a moment, glancing to her right and then back, her eyes locking on anything but Cain as she took a step forward and moved toward him slowly. She prepared herself for the chastising she knew was on the tip of his tongue.
Stopping a hair's distance away from arm's-length, she lifted her head to look at Cain. He took in a long breath and asked: "Are you all right?" DG nodded meekly and Cain let out the breath. "Well, first things-" He moved quickly, pulling DG into a bear-hug. She blinked at the shock of Cain initiating the hug and let her eyes close.
Cain felt DG go rigid and pulled away, looking her over to see that she didn't have any visible injuries. She glanced up to him and then away again quickly. Her hamster had definitely left the wheel at the sight of Wyatt Cain.
Snapping herself out of the haze, DG remembered that she still had a job and needed to tend to her duties. 'Crap,' she thought, knowing that Cain would probably want to drag her back to the Zone right then and there. Would he understand that she had responsibilities and her bosses would, most likely, not accept an excuse of 'Hey, I have to go back to a semi-parallel world where I'm in line for the throne, so I won't be in to work tomorrow, if that's okay?'
Pulling free from Cain's grasp, DG stepped back toward the archway and waved for him to follow. She hurried across the patio and pulled on the large door leading into the Gallery and ushered Cain inside. He didn't argue with her, assuming that she was moving them inside to talk. He stopped as he took in the sight of the large open room, with a gallery leading off to the right behind another set of doors.
DG moved over to the snack counter and unclipped her employee badge, passing it across to the girl manning the station and picked up a sandwich. Holding it up for the girl to see, DG reached for a pamphlet rack and pulled out a map of the grounds and checked her watch. DG had come to learn that the automatic paycheck withdrawal was a lifesaver, if not a dangerous perk of her position.
Cain jumped slightly when DG's hand found his arm and she nodded for him to move around the counter to the other side of the room. As they reached the doors leading outside to the gardens, DG put the sandwich in Cain's hand and held up the map. "Walk through the gardens, look at the art," she said with a wave to the door leading outside and then to another set of doors behind her. "No food in there," she added quickly, pointing again to the doors behind her.
Cain moved to argue, but DG's hands shot up. "I've got three more hours before I can leave. Just..." She took a deep breath and motioned to the grounds on the map. "Stay... here." She sighed and raised the same hand to her forehead for a moment. She really didn't want to deal with him at the moment, and wasn't in the mood to even wait and see if he was going to argue.
But, she didn't want to just walk away from him, so she looked at him. Cain could practically hear her every thought just by looking at her eyes. Clenching his jaw, he nodded once and looked down to the sandwich in his hands. It was wrapped in plastic, which he found odd, but he said nothing. He would respect her wishes.
But only for three hours.
DG turned and walked away with every ounce of regal grace she'd learned in her lessons and moved into the main gallery, and cutting across the open space for the door that lead upstairs to the offices. As soon as the door clicked behind her, DG leaned against the wall and closed her eyes, trying to force the panic attack away.
She had to know that someone would come for her; she wasn't that dense. And she had to know that, if anyone, it would be Cain. Part of her wished it had been anyone but him, because they might not have found her; and she could easily evade them, slip away into a crowd and they'd never find her. She had the smarts of this side and, shy of the Nurture Units, none of them should be able to find her.
But for the part of her that wished Cain hadn't found her, there was another part that made her heart jump at the sight of him. 'He had no idea what he was getting into coming through that storm. He's completely out of his element,' she told herself.
'He found you,' DG heard that little voice in her head. 'Of course he found me,' she told herself with a snap as she moved up the stairs. 'It's Cain.' Why didn't he grab her arm and drag her away into a travel storm? Why didn't he yell? 'He should have yelled. Told me he was disappointed in me and made me feel like I was six.' But, he didn't yell. There was no disappointment in his eyes.
It was relief.
And then she went and abandoned him in the lobby. God, she really did cut and run.
Cain took his time in the gardens, reading each nameplate in front of each plant. He'd read every word on the piece of paper DG had given him. There was so much to take in and none of it made sense. He was just so glad to see that she was alive and in one piece that he didn't even argue when she ordered him away.
She was truly a Princess of the Outer Zone, no matter how far away she ran.
He was sure his appearance had surprised her, but he couldn't tell how angry she was. Really, he didn't care if she was angry. They weren't in the Zone, therefore he didn't have to take orders from her. 'Says the one who walked into the garden with a sandwich, letting her walk away,' he thought with a huff. But, if he knew anything, it was to not push. Pushing DG would only make this more difficult.
At least she was speaking to him.
Cain finally found himself back at the statue garden, just past the second guard shack. He could see the walk that led him to DG earlier and took a moment to look up at the sky and single sun. On first glance, he would think he was back in the Zone, at one of the botanical gardens in the city center – though they'd gone into a state of disrepair since he'd seen them last.
He'd watched every person who'd walked past him in the past two hours; taken in every detail of their mannerisms and behaviors – the clothing alone made him realize that DG's attire they day they'd met was rather calm compared to what some of the women here were wearing. He doubted even the girls of the Sin District would wear such revealing clothing.
And that was saying something.
He also noticed that some of the folks were rather well-dressed, as befit the people of the Zone who frequented the city square. He was also at a loss for words at DG's appearance. Had he not seen her face, he would never have believed it was her.
He wasn't sure of the proper term to describe her look, but he'd never seen any royalty dressed as she was, nor the wealthier residents of the Zone. He made a note to find examples of the 'forties,' as DG had said quite a few times that the O.Z. looked like it had "stepped out of a gangster film from the forties."
Cain wondered how much he could take in and remember - perhaps having something to talk to her about when they got back would make DG happy. Glancing up toward the Gallery, Cain could see DG with the couple from earlier, pointing across the lawn and smiling with the woman. Another woman appeared behind the three of them and began shaking hands with the couple as DG stepped back.
As the new arrival moved off with the couple, Cain caught DG's eye. She smiled and gave him a small wave, which he reciprocated as his brain told him he must look like a fool. She pointed to the large building on her right and mouthed 'library.' Cain shot a quick glance to the building on his left and then down to the map still in his hands.
Looking at the building she had pointed to and seeing 'Library' printed there, his head snapped back up and he tilted his head in that direction with a nod. She nodded as well and turned back to the doors they'd gone through earlier. Cain watched her disappear back into the building and looked back to the map before cutting across the grass to the walkway.
Fifteen minutes later, DG came into the Visitors Center and glanced over the heads for Wyatt Cain. Of course, she had to remind herself that he wasn't wearing the hat – which was an odd sight to see – and probably took her rather literally. Moving around the information desk as she pulled on her trusty leather jacket, DG stepped past the last tour group and smiled to the younger children.
She stopped at the doorway leading into the stacks and titled her head at the sight of Cain sitting at one of the tables, completely engrossed in a large book. She nodded to the librarian as she weaved around the tables, making her way to where he sat. Glancing over his shoulder, DG could see pictures of California life that were taken nearly fifty years prior.
Cain sat up and leaned away as she lifted the edge of the book to see the title. "Looks like the Zone, doesn't it?" she asked quietly. "Well, not the buildings," she added with a shrug. Cain glanced back down to the book and flipped a few pages back. DG saw a photograph of Pittsburgh, taken in 1938, and smiled. Now, that looked like the Central City she knew. She sighed and motioned toward the door. "Come on."
As she stepped back from the table, Cain stood and picked up his map and closed the book. He had it less than six inches above the table when DG shook her head. "Just leave it." Cain frowned, but did as she suggested. He nodded to the librarian as they passed, glancing over his shoulder at the book as he reached the door.
They walked the four blocks south in relative silence, DG wishing she'd remembered to bring a change of shoes with her that morning. Sasha was in such a panic that she wouldn't get to work in time for her appointment – unfortunately she was stuck at the opposite end of the metro area because her brother's babysitter cancelled and he'd begged her to come watch the kids so he and his wife could go to some concert they'd had tickets to for a month.
So here DG was, hoofing it down Oxford Road in heels.
They reached the corner and DG had to lean back and grab Cain's sleeve, pulling him across the street on the green light. They stood at the bus stop, where Cain took in the view of the buildings surrounding them, the automobiles zipping past them on the street and the people strolling down the sidewalks. He wasn't sure of the look of the man sitting on the bench next to them, but DG didn't seem phased by him, so Cain kept his mouth shut.
DG spotted the bus heading their way and turned back to make sure Cain was paying attention. Reaching for the plastic sleeve holding her employee badge, DG was glad her brain had been working enough to remember that she didn't have any cash. Sasha had given her bus fare for the two stops when DG told her that she'd forgotten her bus pass – which she hadn't – as she didn't feel the need to explain to her friend why she was taking a strange man home.
As the bus pulled up to a stop, the man on the bench stood up and waited for the doors to open. After he stepped on board, DG pulled Cain toward her and pushed him onto the bus. Flashing her pass and handing over Cain's fare, DG pushed him down the aisle to two empty seats and nodded for him to take a seat as the bus lurched forward.
Cain's hand immediately went up to stop DG from falling, but she was used to riding the bus and had anticipated the sudden movement as soon as she'd stopped at the seat. She dropped into the seat next to Cain and looked down to her skirt, knowing Cain's eyes were on her. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to him, but that she didn't know what to say.
Cain looked out the window as they passed by homes that were larger than some of the buildings in Central City. He'd been on the transportation vans and trucks as a Tin Man, but the idea of DG – a royal princess – riding on such a contraption, made him simmer. And, of course, he was sure she didn't even consider how dangerous it might be. There was no cover, not to mention she would be defenseless were she cornered by goons.
Unless, of course, there was a big stick hiding under her seat.
He wondered what she was thinking, but he didn't dare ask. Wyatt Cain knew when he was out of his element. And boy, was he out of it. And their current setting was probably not the best place to start arguing about the behaviors of a princess of the Outer Zone.
After eight years in the suit, Cain was used to silence. When they'd first met, Glitch would ramble on and on about nothing, and then forget what he'd said and start over again. The more Cain wished for silence, the more Glitch would talk. It wasn't that Cain liked to be able to hear his thoughts, but silence allowed him to hear what was coming.
Now, the silence was driving Wyatt Cain mad.
Cain didn't know how far they'd traveled, but they'd stopped and started again half a dozen times. He noted that DG's hands grasped the back of the seat in front of her as they slowed to a stop. At the now-familiar lurch, Cain watched as DG pulled herself up and held out her hand. They both looked down to her open palm and then back up to each other as she pulled her hand back and turned, moving down the aisle with Cain close behind.
DG gave a nod to the driver, as did Cain, and they stepped off the bus and moved away from the door for the others to disembark. DG pushed up on her toes as the bus pulled away, looking across the busy intersection toward the oncoming traffic. Usually, the next bus was only a few moments behind. Her eyes moved to Cain, who was looking at the traffic lights, then glancing at the parking lot, trying to take it all in.
She couldn't help but smile. When he looked at her suddenly - having felt her watching him - she looked away quickly, finding a poster in a nearby window suddenly very interesting. Cain let the smallest smile slip and jumped as a loud thumping sound appeared beside him. DG turned to watch his response to the ridiculously loud bass coming out of the car stopped at the light.
Spotting the bus coming to the far side of the intersection, DG turned and flinched slightly as her shoe pinched. Reaching over to take hold of Cain's arm for support, DG leaned back and pulled her shoe off, rubbed at the top of her foot and pulled the shoe back on. "Thank God I don't have to wear these damn things tomorrow," she mumbled as the bus crossed the intersection.
Both of them noticed that DG didn't move her hand from Cain's arm as the bus stopped in front of them, yet neither of them mentioned it. Cain's hand moved to her back as the door of the bus opened and he let her step in first. She, once again, flashed her pass and paid Cain's fare, then moved down the aisle to open seats. This time, DG let Cain's protective side win and took the window seat without argument.
It was another ten minutes of stops and starts before DG tapped Cain's leg with her knuckles. He took a quick look out the window and saw they were now in a business district of sorts. DG nodded for him to get up and followed, again, giving the driver a nod and smile as she departed. Cain had stepped onto the sidewalk and immediately looked left to the rail tracks not ten feet from where they stood.
He noted a residence just on the other side of the tracks and thought it rather unsafe, especially if there were children nearby. In the Zone, any structure was required to be no less than thirty yards from rails. Of course, there seemed to be quite a few more people on the Other Side, but that should be no excuse for basic safety.
The bus pulled away and DG was halfway across the tracks when Cain realized she'd moved, so he hurried after her. He sped up just a bit more at the sound of another thump as a car went past and didn't see that DG had stopped again, so he practically plowed into her. Luckily for DG, she was paying attention, so her arm shot out to help stop him.
Looking both ways, DG's hand found Cain's arm again and she pulled him into the crosswalk. As soon as they were across the street, DG let go of Cain, but he caught her arm. She turned to look from his hand up to his face and he frowned. "How much longer are we gonna not talk about this?" DG blinked and looked away for a moment before nodding.
"You're right." She gave Cain her full attention and added: "I'm sorry." Honestly, she didn't know where to start. "Come on," she started, turning slightly and pointing behind her. "That sandwich couldn't have been filling," she assumed, realizing that she hadn't eaten at all. Cain huffed and frowned again, thankful she'd at least said something, and followed after her.
As they passed the shop entrances, Cain saw DG reaching into the pocket of her jacket and withdrawing a ring of keys. She turned toward the building as the passed the third shop and stuck a key into the lock of the fourth door. Pulling it open, DG waved Cain inside and took a deep breath before following him inside.
DG pushed the door of her apartment open and held the door open for Cain, who stepped in tentatively and looked around the small space. DG didn't have much in the way of things, but how much could a person accumulate in seven cycles? She closed the door behind him and, shrugging off her jacket, moved into the open kitchen space and pulled open the refrigerator.
"You thirsty? Hungry? I don't have much..." she trailed off, looking at the cupboards and wondering what she did have. Cain shook his head and stayed in the middle of the room, watching DG's every move. She looked away and pushed the refrigerator shut before stepping back into the main room. Leaning against the counter for support, she reached down to pull off the heels and dropped the shoes to the floor. Moving over to Cain, DG threw her hands up and sighed. "Might as well get it over with," she offered.
And, after the past seven days, not to mention the last ten hours, Wyatt Cain had nothing to say.
DG left Cain in the front room while she disappeared into the bedroom to get changed out of the dress. He sat down of the sofa for a few moments before deciding that he would rather not sit still. Instead, he took the time to peruse the items laid about her current quarters- 'apartment,' he corrected himself.
There were some books of all sizes, some hard-bound and some not; a few pieces of artwork on the walls and a large, black square box with glass. He didn't know what it was, but he was sure she'd tell him, sooner or later. In the corner was a desk – it looked very much like the desk he used to have when he was a Tin Man – and he saw the picture.
He reached across the desktop and picked up the simple brown frame, smiling at the image behind the glass. DG had done the sketch just after the eclipse – Glitch, Cain and Raw were in Glitch's lab, helping the scientist sort through annuals of junk and papers. They'd stopped to rest and DG had picked up a pencil and paper.
"So you think you might like a burger?" DG asked as she rounded the corner, stopping short at the sight of him holding the frame. Cain turned toward her and then looked back down to the frame before placing it back on the desk.
"Whatever you think," he replied, remembering Hank's descriptions of some of the foods to be found on the side during their 'lessons.' DG nodded and moved toward the door, her hand on the doorknob when she turned back to Cain with a frown.
"I hate to tell you this, but there's more walking." Cain took a deep breath and nodded. He was used to walking, and should probably be more tired than he was for all that he'd done that day. DG nodded and opened the door again, reaching for her coat as Cain moved closer.
They walked back down the street in the direction of the bus stop, continuing on a few blocks. "There's a diner up here," DG said with a wave to the street ahead of them. "Been around forever. It was really popular back in the sixties, with the highway coming through right up there." DG was actually enjoying that they weren't talking about the Zone or her running off. Not that she felt guilty or anything.
Wyatt Cain liked chili dogs.
And curly fries. But he wasn't terribly impressed with chocolate milkshakes, nor the Coca-Cola he was presented with by the waitress. DG practically fell off her stool laughing at the look on his face as he took a gulp – not a sip – of the dark drink and promptly got it down the wrong pipe.
He liked seeing her smile. Even if it was at his expense.
They didn't really talk about anything in particular – this is a straw; that thumping you heard was music; that's called a television – and DG ended up telling Cain what the waitress was doing behind the counter and why the cook was doing things in a certain order while preparing other orders. He'd eaten in the cafes of Central City, but had never realized how much work went into preparing the food.
Of course, in Central City, you didn't see the cook preparing your meal as you ate.
The sun had finally gone down by the time they left the diner, heading back for DG's apartment. DG kept her eyes trained on the sidewalk as they walked back down the street. The simple fact that he had yet to say anything about the Zone or her actions was starting to bother her. And she knew that if they didn't get the air cleared, she'd never get to sleep.
Cain was two steps ahead of her when he realized she'd stopped. "I'm really sorry," she said timidly. He took a step back and she jerked to the side, continuing down the street. "I just... I couldn't do it anymore, Cain." He didn't say a word, allowing her to go at her on pace. "You were right, y'know," she said a moment later, stopping with a smile. He squinted slightly as he looked up to her, not sure what she was talking about.
"I did cut and run. Just..." Her eyes moved back to the pavement between them and he reached for her before she could step away.
"When I said that-" he started, suddenly angry at himself for ever thinking such a thing about her. DG shook her head and gave him a nod.
"No. When it came right down to it... cards on the table... I bolted." She took a deep breath and frowned. "I didn't even have the guts to tell anyone I how I felt. I pushed everything back and tried to ignore that feeling in the pit of my stomach. And when the time came, I couldn't stop it." DG turned away and let her chin drop to her chest.
"So I ran." Cain clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. Deciding that this was one of the times that was absolutely necessary, Wyatt Cain did something he didn't normally do; reaching out, he placed a hand on DG's back, causing her to turn toward him. He raised his other arm and pulled DG into a hug.
"Last few annuals- it's a lot to take in, Kid. I doubt I would have held out as long as you did." He leaned back slightly and ducked down to catch her eye. "Just listening to your folks tell me the things I was supposed to remember; and then to get here and see this place..." DG laughed into Cain's jacket.
"Other than the obvious events, the Oh Zee looks the same as it did a hundred annuals ago. And you say this place looked like the Oh Zee, what? Fifty annuals ago?" Cain asked, shaking his head with a slight chuckle. DG reached up and wiped at her eyes before looking back up to Cain. He smiled at her and shook his head. "No one's expecting you to be a wonder woman, Kiddo." DG snorted a laugh, knowing that Cain didn't even realize that Wonder Woman was real.
Well, in a manner of speaking.
"Eh," she said with a shrug, pulling away from Cain. "I couldn't pull off the stars and stripes swimsuit if I wanted to. But the bracelets would be cool. Now, my sister... she could pull it off." Cain raised an eyebrow, knowing that that was yet another reference he'd have to have her explain. DG patted Cain arm and grabbed his sleeve. "Come on. It's past your bedtime, Tin Man." Cain pursed his lips and rolled his eyes ever-so-slightly before allowing DG to pull him down the sidewalk.
"The couch really is comfortable," DG yelled from her closet. Cain made a face and stepped toward the doorway. He leaned in just enough to see her pulling a blanket down from the upper shelf and did a double-take at the sight of the framed picture on the wall between them. Stepping into the room, Cain squared himself on the wanted poster he'd seen annuals before, just outside Central City.
Cocking his head, Cain turned to face DG with a look of disbelief. She glanced between him and the poster and shrugged. "What? Y'know," she said, waving to the frame. "If we had collected those up and signed 'em, we could've cornered the market on the Zone's version of eBay," she stated with a wink and a click of her tongue. Breezing past him with the blanket, she moved back into the front room, leaving Cain to stare at the poster for another moment, before he realized he was standing in DG's bedroom.
DG moved into the living room and stopped next to the couch. Looking down at the sleeping form of Wyatt Cain, she raised an eyebrow and leaned over so that her nose was mere inches from his and smirked.
"Faker." Cain's eyes opened and she straightened, moving to the end of the couch as he sat up and pushed the blanket away. "How long?"
"For what?" DG leaned against the arm of the couch and glared at him.
"How long until the Tin Man's rescue party arrives?"
Cain's jaw locked slightly and he sighed. "Glitch will send your-" he glanced up to DG then back down to his hands. "Hank and Emily, after five days."
"And yesterday was one?" she asked, staring at the wall. Cain nodded. "Okay," she said, clapping her hands on her knees. "Come on," she nodded for him to stand.
"Where are we going?" Cain asked as he stood apprehensively. DG gave him an honest smile and he noticed that, even in the dark apartment, her eyes sparkled.
"There's something I want you to see."
Five minutes later, Princess and Tin Man stepped out onto the street. The sun was still on the rise, so the street lights were still on as DG led Cain across the street. Some other early-morning commuters were already gathered on the platform, waiting for the train into downtown. One of the gentlemen gave them both a nod and started to rise, offering DG his spot on the bench. She shook her head and smiled to him before taking a chance to watch Cain look toward the mountains.
"Is that-" she asked, nodding to the north with a look. Cain breathed and looked down to her.
"I never saw so many lights," he said quietly. DG smiled and gave him a quick nudge with her shoulder as she leaned forward to see the lights of the metro rail coming into view. Cain wasn't surprised to see the train pull up in front of them, but he was intrigued by the lack of steam engine. DG caught his attention by waving a piece of paper in his face.
"Stick to your ticket, Harry." Cain's eyes narrowed and DG sighed. Reaching for his hand, she placed the folded page in his palm and added: "Don't lose this or you'll be stuck." She gave him an 'Understand?' look and he nodded, reaching to put it in the inner pocket of his duster before remembering he wasn't wearing it. DG couldn't help but smile at his frustration.
Taking a moment to glance at his outfit, she nodded. "Not bad... for, y'know," she trailed off as the door of the train opened. Looping her arm around his, DG pulled Cain into the car behind the gentleman who'd been sitting. Cain noticed the interior of the train looked much like the contraption they'd been in the day before, but seemed a bit more open.
DG's gaze moved to the wall of the train and her mind wandered, stopping at the realization that – for the third time in twelve hours – she'd just put Cain into a metal box. Her eyes shot to Cain, but she realized that if he'd noticed it, he wasn't showing it. She cursed herself anyway and turned as the train pulled away from the station.
Twenty minutes later, DG caught Cain's arm and pulled him up from the seat. She felt bad for not talking to him, but could see he was trying to take it all in. He glanced down to her when her arm tightened around his. "I don't want to lose you," she said with a nod to the platform as the doors closed behind them. Cain followed her direction and saw a mass of people moving down a ramp; as well as some running up the ramp to catch the train just leaving from the other track.
DG tugged again and pulled Cain into the fray. As they got into the main lobby of the station, DG spotted a snack cart. "You hungry?" she asked, pulling him along.
"Uh..." Cain shifted to one side as a group moved toward them and one person shoved between him and DG. He shot daggers to the young girl who was talking to her hand and shook his head as DG rolled her eyes.
"Ignore it. People are stupid," she mumbled, looking over the selection of snacks. Looking to Cain, she pointed to the baked goods in the case. "Anything tickle your fancy?" Cain blinked and breathed out through his nose, which made DG smile. Looking over the choices, Cain could only see breads. He'd never even seen half the words on the board behind the attendant. He gave DG a look and she smiled, causing him to believe she was enjoying this.
"Do you want coffee? Tea? Milk? A muffin? A banana?" she asked, holding up a piece of fruit.
"Coffee," Cain said simply. DG nodded, put the banana down and smiled to the girl behind the counter.
"Two regular coffees, please." The girl prepared two cups as DG pulled out some cash and looked at Cain. "You need cream or sugar?" He shook his head and DG passed him one of the cups. He pondered the plastic lid for a moment and watched DG out of the corner of his eye. She took a sip, flinched slightly and leaned toward Cain. "It's hot," she warned him as he moved to take a sip.
Catching his arm again, DG pointed ahead of them with her cup. They still had a few minutes before the next train, but she wanted to be on the platform when the train arrived. Cain noticed more people talking into their hands, as well as many with wires in their ears and most oblivious to everything going on around them.
They'd be the victim of a pickpocket in the Sin District Square were they in the Zone.
A few more people pushed past Cain as if he was in their way and he made a face, which caused DG to take her coffee down the wrong pipe. She smacked her chest once and shook her head as Cain jumped to react. "I'm good," she said, clearing her throat. "That's us," she said, pointing above them to a now-blinking sign.
As they passed a trash can, DG tossed her coffee cup in and looked up to Cain. "It was empty," she explained as they herded into the train with the people heading to work. DG pointed to two open seats and offered Cain the window; she'd seen it all before. As the doors closed and DG sat down, her brain clicked again. As the train began to pull away, the lights flickered slightly and DG grabbed Cain's hand.
All she could think about was the fact that she'd – again – stupidly forced him into a dark, iron box. Well, maybe not iron, so much as steel. Cain didn't notice at first; he was more surprised that she was holding his hand. The lights flickered again and he heard a loud clunk, which made him flinch and he realized why she'd grabbed him.
"I didn't think about it," she said quietly, looking straight ahead. Cain swallowed, squeezed her hand and they looked at each other for a second. Cain gave her a smile and gave his cup a little shake.
"'s not bad," he breathed. A minute later, the train pulled to a stop and Cain looked out the window to the new platform. DG let go of Cain's hand and shifted in her seat.
"We switch at the next one." Cain nodded and watched as a heavily pierced man entered the train and took a seat near them. Glancing at DG, he could see she either didn't notice the man, or didn't care. He blinked and looked back out the window for a moment then turned back to DG.
"Why is everyone talking to their hand?" DG looked through the window and smiled.
"They're on the phone," she stated, leaning away from him and reaching into her pocket for her own. Flipping it open, she held it out for Cain to take. "Just like the ones in Central City, only... portable." Cain took the phone from her and turned it over in his hands. "Ooh," DG said suddenly, snatching the phone back from him and pressing a few buttons. She leaned back, held the phone up and, a moment later, smiled. She turned back in her seat and closed the phone as the train pulled away, smiling at the glare still on Cain's face.
At the next station, they had to go up a level to get to the next train and found this station a bit less crowded. DG explained that the main station fed the trains heading out of town and many of the buses, while the current station was mainly a junction for two other lines. They'd change trains once more down the line.
Soon, they were back outside and Cain watched in awe as the train moved down the center of the roadway, cars stopping alongside them. "How's Jeb?" DG asked finally, the silence driving her crazy. Cain turned, brow furrowed slightly.
"What?" He'd heard her voice but didn't register her words. She smiled and repeated her question. Cain breathed out and opened his mouth then shut it again. Looking at DG, he nodded. "He's... good. Was probably glad to see me go," he said with a smile.
"Aww," DG said, looking away as Cain glanced at his lap.
"Half the time..." he began, then pursed his lips and shook his head.
"I'll bug you 'til you tell me," DG threatened, adding a nudge to his arm with hers. Cain smiled and laughed then turned to DG.
"It was like getting to the theater late. Things have been happening, setting up the story." DG bit her lip to keep from smiling at the idea of Cain at the theater. "They would start talking about an incident, and it would pass around and..." Cain sighed heavily. "I wanted to help," he said quietly and looked to the window for a moment. "But, really... I was just another mouth to feed." DG frowned and put a hand on Cain's shoulder.
"That's not true Cain. You got to spend time with Jeb. You were with family-" Her mouth clamped shut at the look on his face and she nodded once. She was with family. And she'd come in at the intermission. "Aren't we just a pair?" she asked with a laugh and leaned against the armrest, her jaw against her fist.
"Where are we going?" Cain asked her. DG looked over to him, her jaw still against her fist, and she sat up.
"I want your trip to be memorable. So I'm taking you somewhere you've never been." Cain opened his mouth but DG beat him to it. "In general," she said with a wave. Cain clenched his jaw, but DG saw the smile slip. "Do you like fish?" she asked a moment later, garnering a look of confusion from Cain. "For lunch. Trying to get ideas," she said with a wave.
Cain looked up, out the window and back to DG. "The sun just came up."
"Planning ahead," she snapped back with an incredulous look. Cain shook his head and looked back out the window for a moment before looking straight ahead.
"If that's my only option... I will eat fish." DG poked her cheek with her tongue and turned away.
'Yeah, he's gonna be a troublemaker,' she thought with a smile.
As they waited on the upper platform for the last train, Cain turned to look out over the rooftops and noted he could almost see the mountains in the distance, but he didn't know which were 'his.' "Which-" he asked, catching DG's arm and pointing to the horizon. DG smiled and pointed to the skyscrapers of downtown.
"Smog's a little thick today. It's behind those... that one," she shrugged.
"You do this often?" Cain asked, motioning to the platform.
"No, I'm usually at work," she said with a nod.
"And your personal day?" DG smiled guiltily and nodded.
"I go to work." Cain frowned. "Sometimes I do have a weekend," she stated, seeing his disapproval. Of course, he really had no room to talk about work ethics and both of them knew it. Cain pointed and DG turned to see a train coming their way. "Sweet," she said quietly, which made Cain laugh.
"Do you like fish?" he asked her as the doors of the train opened. DG looked up to him sideways and smiled.
DG led the way down the steps at the last station and stopped at the bottom, turning to look up at Cain. He had noticed words written on the risers of the steps and was reading them backwards, as he didn't realize the quote started at the bottom. DG tapped him and he turned.
"Okay, we still need to go about three miles that way," she said, pointing to their right. "We can walk or take the bus," she added, leaving the decision to him. Cain took a moment to sniff the air and consider his options. He'd done plenty of walking the day before; and he'd done plenty of sitting that morning. DG smiled, figuring he was trying to guess her preference. "We'll walk," she said with a smile and hooked her arm around his again.
As they walked, DG explained what was on the signs they passed – one or two of them reminding Cain of a story from his time with the Resistance and, at DG's description of pasta as they passed an Italian restaurant, a story from his time with the Mystic Man.
As their destination neared, Cain made a face. "What is that smell?" DG smiled.
"Salt." Cain looked at her in disbelief – he'd never known salt to have a smell.
"Did it go bad?" DG laughed.
"No, there's just a lot of it." She stopped a moment later and stepped in front of Cain. "Okay. I need you to trust me." Cain gave her a look that suggested he was questioning her sanity. "Close your eyes," she said, nodding slightly and stepping behind him. DG grabbed hold of Cain's jacket on each side, just near the pockets and he turned to look at her over his shoulder.
"Close your eyes," she demanded with another nod. Cain huffed dramatically and closed his eyes. He knew she'd leaned around him to see if his eyes were, in fact, closed, so he opened his left eye and looked down. "I mean it," she said with a frown. He sighed again and closed his eye. "They closed?" he heard from behind him.
"Yes." What was he doing? He had no reason to take orders from her. Not here. They shouldn't even be here. They should have been back in the Zone the day before.
"Walk," he heard DG order and felt her push him forward. 'What has happened to you?' he asked himself as he took cautious steps forward. 'Nothing like taking all your years of training and common sense and throwing it into the Rip.'
"Stop," he heard a moment later, with an added: "Keep 'em closed." She nudged him again and he took a few more steps. "Ground's gonna change," DG warned. That was an understatement, he noted, as the solid ground became... squishy. Keeping his eyes closed, Cain stopped and turned his head toward DG. "Just two more steps," she nodded, giving him another nudge.
When she stopped telling him to step and slow and walk and stop, Cain's ears caught a new sound; one he'd never heard and he couldn't decide what it sounded like. It took him a second to realize DG was no longer holding on to his coat. "DG?" His head shot up. "Kid?" Panic set in and he cursed himself for letting her control him like this.
His eyes shot open and he spun around. He saw DG standing just next to him, but his gaze was locked on the ground. His eyes went wide as he noticed the sand and DG frowned at the look on his face. "Just sand, Cain." He shot her a glare and had to remind himself that she hadn't grown up hearing the stories of the deserts that surrounded the Zone; stories told to keep the children in line and scare each other with.
But he was still alive – as far as he knew – so maybe it was just sand. The sound was back and, as he turned to see what was causing it, everything slowed down. He didn't remember turning the rest of his body, but he must have because – when he remembered how to blink – he had to turn to look at DG. She gave him the brightest smile he'd ever seen on her face and stepped toward him.
"Wyatt Cain," she started, holding her hand out toward the water. "Meet the Pacific."
"I'd been buying jewelry, clothes," DG said, picking at her jeans. "Vintage stuff is huge over here. And the jewelry..." Cain kept looking from her to the water, letting her tell her story on her time. "Anyway, I figured wherever I came out, I could get rid of some of the jewelry right off. There isn't exactly an exchange rate for platinums to dollars," she said with a laugh.
"Went in to the first restaurant I could find and offered double shifts. Found a by-the-week place and lived off tips for a month. Of course, I had no papers, no eye-dee. Told 'em I'd been overseas with my parents and the bags were lost. And then had my carry-on stolen at the airport while we were waiting for the luggage, so I was pretty much working with the clothes on my back until I could get replacement papers."
"That's not where you-" Cain started to ask. DG shook her head and continued:
"Museum has a free day a few times each month. I went up there one day and ran into my art teacher. Of all the museums in all the world," she said with a sigh. "Happened to be in the right place at the right time... and they offered me a job; base pay, crappy hours... And I still had no eye-dee. So I told them the story, and the curator said that, with the recommendation and vouching of my art teacher, they could swing it for a couple of weeks. Which is totally illegal, by the way," she said with a nod.
"Main problem was that I couldn't just go get a new one because who knows how we were in the system after three years. Y'know, if I start spouting my social and it's flagged, then I have to answer questions and..." DG waved to the air. "Anyway, after a few weeks, my boss suggested I take some time off. Forced vacation, really – he said he was sick of seeing me every day," she smiled.
"So Sasha rented me a car and I drove to Kansas. Figured it was time to answer up and, all else, find out where all my stuff was," she said with a shrug. "Turned out a family had just moved into the house; real nice lady with three kids. Told her I was a cousin and had been overseas for school and just got back. She said most of the stuff, far as she knew, went to Goodwill. I asked her to check for a loose brick next to the fireplace – that's where Popsicle kept the important papers hidden."
DG sighed and leaned back against the bench. "She brought back the papers and the key for the safety deposit box. Stopped at the Hilltop and Evie was there. She freaked," DG breathed a laugh. "Told me off for not calling to say I was all right. She said Gulch claimed my bike once it hit the unclaimed pile. I thought about stealing it back, but I can't exactly ride to work on a motorcycle while wearing a skirt," DG said with a forced smile. Cain nodded in agreement, especially with the dress she'd been wearing the day before.
"She gave me a copy of my license from Carter's files and I told her I'd keep in touch. Headed for the bank to check the box, drop off the key and close the bank account." DG stared at the water for a moment and scratched her head. Cain watched her lean forward, elbows on her knees and pinching her nose with her thumbs. Turning her head toward Cain, she gave him a forced smile.
"You know what was in the box?" Cain shook his head. "One of those projection-things," she said with a nod and sat up. "A letter from Popsicle saying who I really was and instructions for calling a travel storm." She had to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Had she not been to the Zone, she never would know how to turn the projector on in the first place.
"Anyway, got back to the museum, gave them a copy of my license and got all the other papers squared away. And here we are." Cain nodded once and took a deep breath, regretting it as the smell of salt was much stronger.
Turning to DG, he stared at her for a minute and stated matter-of-factly: "I don't want fish." DG laughed and leaned into Cain, giving him a shove. They both looked out to the water and smiled, enjoying the moment.
The two of them walked back up to the street and down to the corner. DG turned right and motioned toward a door just in front of them. As she pulled the door open, Cain looked up to the sign hanging over the door and then back down to DG with a frown. "You said you didn't like fish." DG reached out and caught his elbow, pulling him inside.
"It just the name of the place, Cain. They have stuff besides fish." Cain looked around and didn't know what to think of the décor. He'd never seen anything like it. It was bright, and open. And there were far too many things hanging on the walls. He noticed DG staring at him and shrugged. "Just trying to figure out what you'd like," she said with a shrug.
"Welcome to Wahoo's," the young man behind the counter said with a nod as DG turned.
"Thanks. A number two, please. Chicken and carne, no beans on either. And a number seven, light on the beans. And two bottles of water."
"And how would you like the chicken?" the man asked. DG glanced up to the menu at her choices and then to Cain. "Blackened." Cain tapped her arm and pointed to the upper left of the menu and DG smiled. "And one order of fries, please." The man nodded and DG hitched a thumb toward the tables as she pulled her wallet from her pocket.
She joined Cain a moment later with the two drinks and a number card. A minute later, their food arrived. Cain looked at it with a raised eyebrow, but was hungry and had to admit that it looked better than half the food he'd ever eaten in the Zone. His eyes began to water at the first bite of chicken and DG quickly opened his water while trying not to laugh.
"There's one a few miles from the apartment. Sasha and I go after work sometimes."
"And Sasha is?" Cain asked as he looked back toward the water as they reached the corner. DG tapped him as the light changed and they crossed the street.
"You saw her yesterday, at the museum." Cain thought back to everyone he'd seen.
"The lady and the man?" DG shook her head.
"The other one," she said pointing into mid-air. "Later." Cain nodded. He did recall there being another woman present before he went to the library.
"The other lady is Christina. And Kevin is her fiancé. They want to get married in the gallery."
Cain shrugged. "Well, your parents got married in a field." DG stopped and looked up at him.
"Really?" Cain took in the look on her face and smiled.
"Really." DG turned and looked at the sidewalk as they walked along. Cain laughed at the memory and looked down to DG for a moment. "The Queen did not like your father."
"Then why did she marry him?" DG asked with a frown. Cain stopped and gave DG a look then shook his head.
"Not your mother. Her mother." DG blinked. She'd heard no stories about the Zone when her mother was her age, and, other than the events leading up to Az's possession and the few scattered memories she'd been able to access, DG hadn't heard many stories of her mother's reign.
"What was she like? My grandmother," DG clarified. Cain breathed another laugh and looked ahead, realizing that he had no idea where they were headed and hoped DG had a clue.
"She was a lot like your sister. Before." DG made a face and looked up to Cain in shock. As he thought about what he'd said, he flinched and stammered: "I mean... not that she was possessed by an evil witch, but..." Cain let his head drop to his chest and he took a deep breath. "She was very... by the book. Everyone had a job to do and a place to be."
DG smiled. "And if they didn't do their job?"
"Reassigned. Usually to the borders." DG didn't know exactly what that meant, but assumed it was equivalent to the joke of being shipped to the North or South Pole. "But she was a good leader," Cain added, not wanting DG to think less of her ancestor. DG nodded and waved for Cain to follow her across the street.
They moved up the sidewalk along the busy street and Cain told DG some more stories about the Zone before her father arrived, to which DG responded with stories of some of her teachers in school. They walked for another mile or so when they arrived at the mall. DG pulled Cain through the parking lot and into the large building, where he found the skylights rather fascinating.
They moved down the length of the hallway until the path split and DG veered to the left. "Is this another memorable experience?" Cain asked her in that tone. DG stuck her tongue out at him and shrugged.
"Actually, no. We're getting you some new clothes." Cain looked down then back up to DG.
"What's wrong with-" DG put a hand on his arm.
"Nothing, Cain. But, you have to broaden your horizons. Wearing the same thing every day may work for the Zone, but, 'round here," she said, making a face. Cain looked up and glanced at the shop windows around them then shot back to face DG with wide eyes and a pink tinge creeping up to his ears. DG bit her lip to not laugh, as she realized they'd stopped in front of Victoria's Secret.
"Come on, Tin Man. You're gonna fall into the Gap." Cain's brow furrowed and he looked down to the floor. DG laughed again and pointed to the sign ahead, announcing The Gap. "Honestly, you strike me more as a Sears shopper, but there's no Sears. So here we are." Cain watched as she stopped at a table covered with stacks of black fabric and different pairs of black pants on statues.
DG looked up with a pair of pants now in hand and glanced at him. "We had an unfortunate incident with the solution we use to clean paintings the other day. These are for me," she said, holding up the pants. Pointing toward the back of the store, Cain took a deep breath and followed her around the racks.
"You don't know your pant size, by chance?" DG asked with a shrug as she flipped through a stack of jeans. Cain looked down to his pants and then back up. Setting her black pants down, DG picked up a pair of jeans and shook them out. Moving over to Cain, she held the pants up to his waist and he jerked back. She gave him a look and held them up again. "I'm just fitting the waist," she said with a slight roll of the eyes. Cain didn't blink as she stood next to him, and realized he'd been holding his breath once she stepped away.
DG moved back to the stack and pulled another pair of jeans from the stack, then moved around to the other side of the table when the non-jeans pants were. Moving back to Cain, she set the two pairs of pants down on top of her black ones and reached across to the next table where fabrics in a rainbow of colors sat. She picked up a dark grey t-shirt and shook it open, then moved around to behind Cain and held it up to his back. Of course, he turned to see what she was doing then back at the look on her face.
'I'm very disappointed in you, Wyatt Cain,' he told himself.
"Okay," DG said, moving back to the stack of pants and picking up the two pairs she'd picked out. Holding out the pants and the grey shirt, she pointed to the dressing rooms and pushed Cain in that direction. "No one's gonna take your stuff. Just put on the pants and the shirt, come out here so I can see it, then you can go back and change. Deal?" Cain gave her a look over his shoulder as DG held up three fingers for the microphoned girl standing in the doorway and she stopped, waving Cain along. As he disappeared around the corner, DG glanced at the various racks and smirked.
DG was browsing the nice shirts when she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. Glancing up toward the dressing rooms, she did a half double-take at the sight of Wyatt Cain in jeans and a t-shirt.
A really tight t-shirt.
While she did feel bad for him, as it must be uncomfortable, she was still a girl and- 'And that is still Wyatt Cain,' a voice in her head shouted. He spotted DG and shifted slightly, tugging at the collar. DG frowned and moved over to him. "I forgot these run a little small," she said honestly. "Otherwise, not bad." She did a quick circle and looked at the length of the pants, then back up to Cain. "How do they feel?"
"Heavy and loose," Cain remarked simply. DG snorted and shook her head.
"Besides that?" Cain raised an eyebrow and tried not to smile at her.
"Fine." DG held up a finger and stepped over to a rack nearby and pulled one of the hangers free.
"Try this, with the other pants. Then you're done. Promise," she added, seeing the discontented look on his face. He huffed and took the shirt from her, then turned and went back to where his clothes were. It took everything she had to not watch him walk away. "Heavy and loose," she repeated with a laugh, and returned to the table of t-shirts.
Cain reappeared in the non-jeans and button-down shirt and DG did another circle, giving him a shrug then a nod. "What do you think?" she asked him, honestly wanting to know. Cain looked down at himself then back up to DG.
"I like the shirt," he admitted. DG smiled.
"Are these pants heavy and loose, too?" Cain glared at her.
"They are fine." DG shook her head and pushed him back.
"Go get dressed." When he came back a few minutes later, redressed in his Zone clothes, DG took the grey t-shirt from him and refolded it before putting it back on the stack. She pointed to the rainbow and nodded. "Pick two." Cain frowned and sighed. She wasn't going to back down, he realized, so he huffed and pointed to the beige and the light grey.
Which got him a dirty look.
"Come on, Cain. You're on vacation. Pretend to enjoy it." She stuck her bottom lip out just enough and saw his jaw clench.
"That one," he pointed to a blue. "And that one," he pointed to the dark grey he'd had on before. DG nodded and reached for one of each, making sure she'd grabbed the next size up. Next, she held up the brown pants.
"If you had to walk the Brick Route, end to end, would you be okay in these?" Cain glanced around the store for a moment and nodded. "And these?" she asked, holding up the jeans. Cain shook his head. DG made a face and his whole upper body shifted before he nodded. Next, DG led him over to the rack of button-downs he liked. There were stripes, plaids and solids. Cain pointed to the one in her arms and she huffed.
"Trust me, Cain. If you find a style you like, buy 'em when you can find 'em. Because you'll never find 'em again," she mumbled, pulling one of the hangers off the rack and holding it up to Cain, then shaking her head and putting the shirt back. Cain gave her a look and pointed to a blue one, and then a white one with light blue and grey vertical stripes.
DG turned to look up at him and smiled and leaned slightly as she spotted the sport coats. But deciding that there was no point, because he wasn't staying on this side, she simply shook her head and turned back to the shirts. As she grabbed the two he selected, DG straightened and turned to look at Cain for a moment.
She caught his arm again and pulled him to the corner, which got her a raised eyebrow from Wyatt Cain. "I'm not gonna say a word," she said, shaking her head and pointing to the racks. "'s all you, Tin Man." Cain's eyes moved from DG to the corner and he breathed out slowly. He took two steps away and stared at the racks for a moment before turning to DG with a look of sheer terror. DG continued to shake her head and reached for a package of socks nearby.
He turned again and put up his hands. "Seriously, Cain," she whispered loudly. "There's boxers and there's briefs. Pick one or I'm taking you to the Land of Pink," she threatened, nodding in the direction of Victoria's Secret. Cain's eyes went wide – as he only had seen pink once that day – and he shot back around and reached for one of the packages.
She only looked at the package long enough to compare the size chart and the pants size and then immediately looked away. As DG piled the clothes onto the counter, Cain leaned over and said quietly: "You don't have to-" DG gave him a look and forced a smile to the girl behind the counter. Even if it hadn't been on sale, the whole experience was worth it simply to see Wyatt Cain wearing jeans. Even if it was only for a minute.
As she handed her debit card over to the girl, DG noticed Cain's boots. She looked up to him for a moment, then back down. "Are those the same shoes you were-" Cain leaned forward and looked down then nodded.
"No, DG. I like these," he said sternly. DG made a face and took the pen from the cashier, who smiled and handed over the receipt to be signed. She passed the pen and paper back and shook her head. She pushed the two bags into Cain's hands and turned him away from the counter. As they reached the store entrance, Cain stopped and looked down to DG.
"You're not gonna make me-" he trailed off, nodding to his right. DG smiled and fought back a laugh.
"No Cain. I'm not. I don't even go in there," she said as she grabbed his arm and pulled him back out into the open area. "I mean, I go... somewhere else-" She rolled her eyes at herself. "Oh, hey look! Pretzels..." she said, changing the subject as fast as she could.
They had taken a bus from the mall up to the junction from that morning and took the same train back north, where they switched trains as they had, also that morning, and arrived at the main station. Cain noticed that there was a different girl attending to the booth where they'd had coffee and he was certain that the girl who'd pushed passed him that morning had just done so again, still talking into her hand and going the other direction.
By the time they finally got off the train and Cain could see the building DG was currently living in, the sun was beginning to go down in the east. 'West,' he corrected himself for the second time. DG again apologized for the lack of food in her kitchen and asked Cain if he wanted to have another chili dog for dinner, or they could try someplace else.
He really wanted the chili dog and curly fries, however, so they walked back down the street as they had done the night before; they sat in the same seats and placed the same orders. "You're gonna be the best dressed ex-Tin Man in the Zone," DG said with a smile as Cain finished his drink. He raised an eyebrow and was about to respond when he heard an odd chirping noise and DG jumped, reaching for her pocket.
She pulled her phone out and flipped it open. "Hey, Sash," she said, still looking at Cain. "Uh huh... Yep... Yep... No, I uh..." DG turned back to the counter and looked at her plate. "I'm gonna bus it tomorrow. Yeah, I'm sure... Yep... See you tomorrow." She flipped the phone shut and looked back to Cain, who was slowly chewing on a curly fry.
"So, tomorrow I have to work." Cain said nothing, but nodded slowly and picked up another fry. "I would say you are more than welcome to sit on the couch and watch TV all day..."
"But?" Cain asked, knowing the word would follow by her tone.
"If something were to go wrong, I couldn't get back in time. And, if you decided you needed to get out and get some fresh air; go for a walk... well, much as I respect your master tracking skills," she said giving Cain a pointed stare. "I do not want you lost in this city." Cain nodded, as he didn't want to be lost in this city either. And good as he was at traversing the Zone, he was not currently in the Zone.
"I know you'll be bored out of your mind, but-" Cain straightened and turned to DG.
"I'd like to finish that book." DG turned away to hide the smile on her face and nodded to the waitress as she passed before looking back to Cain.
"Okay," she said a moment later, nodding and giving him a grin.
The next morning, after two buses and four blocks, Wyatt Cain found himself back at the Huntington. DG set him up in the library and picked out a few other books he might like, stopping by the desk and asking the head librarian to give her a call if Cain needed her. She told him she'd meet him in a few hours, when they'd have lunch and left him to peruse the collections while she went to do her daily rounds.
Cain was nearly done with the second book when DG arrived to collect him for lunch and the lady at the desk assured him she'd hold on to the books. DG took him across the grounds to the small café, where they had sandwiches and DG told Cain about what she did during the day. She told him that she was going to be in the children's area later on, if he wanted a good laugh.
After lunch, Cain returned to the library, finished his book and made his way to the Children's Garden. And he didn't laugh. But DG did, mainly because she'd never seen the man smile so much. Even if was because of the kids.
DG escorted Cain back to the library after the children dispersed with their parents and made sure he was settled before she headed back to the gallery to finish her day. After he finished the last book DG has picked, Cain asked the librarian for her suggestions. She pointed out a few of her favorites and mentioned that her son was preparing to start studying history at the local college and she would ask him if there were any must-reads.
When DG arrived at the library at the end of the day, she found Cain helping put books away as he and the woman discussed their sons. The place had a tendency to clear out about a half hour before closing, which DG assumed was why they were talking. Cain was looking at the titles of the books in his hands when the woman spotted DG. "You've got yourself an inquisitive young man, here." Cain raised an eyebrow, as he was most definitely older than the woman.
DG smiled and leaned against the table. "But he remembered his manners?" Cain shot her a glare and the woman nodded.
"I think he's living in the wrong time, though," she said, giving Cain a look. He froze and his eyes moved to DG, who was now smirking. "Seems to be stuck in the past."
"Well, we're working on bringing him into the now," DG said with a nod to Cain. He nodded slowly and turned to look at the woman, giving her a half-smile, half-shrug. She chuckled and reached for the books Cain was still holding.
"Clear out, you two. I can finish this up." She turned away and moved off to reshelve the last of the books. Cain took a deep breath and stuck his hands in his pockets. A moment later, he blinked and looked down to said pockets, then up to DG with a raised eyebrow. She laughed and tugged on his sleeve.
"See... in the now. Next thing you know, you'll be wearing a baseball hat." She stopped, turned to him and pointed. "Backwards." Smiling again, she turned and headed for the door, Cain following behind and giving the librarian a nod as he passed.
"I must say, I'm impressed," DG said as they moved down Oxford Street toward the bus stop.
"About?" Cain asked, wondering just what she was talking about.
"You cracked the shell." DG turned and looked back toward the museum and then back to Cain. "She doesn't ever let anyone help her put the books away." Cain shrugged and turned to watch a sleek black car pass by, giving the machine an approving nod. Catching the look on DG's face, his eyes rolled and he continued walking.
"You sick of chili dogs yet?" DG asked, trying to figure out what to do for dinner. Cain shrugged and turned back slightly.
"I liked whatever that was for lunch." DG smiled and nodded.
"That was a club sandwich. And it just so happens, they have one on the menu at the diner." She shrugged and added: "Unless you want to go somewhere else?" Cain shook his head and DG nodded again.
They actually got off the bus at the stop in front of the diner and Cain wanted to sit by the window since the sun was still up. Cain had a club sandwich – which he didn't like as much as the one at the Huntington café, but he'd never tell DG – and DG had salad, because she was in a mood for it. Cain actually made fun of her bowl of rabbit food, which made her laugh, as she didn't think he had it in him to make jokes.
"So you do this every day?" Cain asked as they moved down the street after dinner. DG nodded and sighed as she looked up as the streetlights turned on. "It's... interesting," he said slowly.
"No, it's boring," DG interjected with a grin, shoving her hands into her jacket pockets. "Get up, get dressed, go to work, go home to bed and do it all again the next day."
"And it's different from the Zone, how?" Cain asked. DG looked at the ground and bounced the toe of her shoe to the pavement. "Look, Kid," he said, reaching for DG as she turned away. "I'm not sayin' you're right or wrong." He shook his head and shrugged. "I'm just tryin' to understand."
DG spun on one heel and turned away from Cain as she considered her response. She knew this conversation was going to come up sooner or later, she was just hoping for later. Anyone who saw her from afar would probably laugh at the succession of facial expressions before she finally turned back to Cain and shrugged.
He nodded and shot a glance behind them to the diner. "Well, with food like that, I'd probably want to be here, too. Better than most kitchens in the Zone..."
"It's not that," DG said, shaking her head. "It's just... over here, I have a simple job. I do my job, and I'm done. I'm just another body, taking up space... I don't want people telling me what to do; I'm sure not gonna tell other people what to do." She sighed and turned away again and dropped her head. "I don't want to run a country, Cain." Cain frowned, but nodded.
"And I'm sorry, birthright or not, it's crap. How can I run a... country-" she dropped her voice to a whisper and nodded for them to start walking again. "When I don't even remember it? I've got nothing invested, Cain; I didn't grow up there. I might as well run for Queen over here, for all the good it would do! Am I supposed to go to the farmers of the Eastern Guilds and say: 'Hey! Sorry for the crappy fifteen years. I don't know what you grow or why you grow it, but-'" She threw her hands up and gave Cain a double thumbs up. "'Keep up the good work.'" She gave Cain a look and shook her head.
"And if some faction from the north shows up with a complaint about the south, who's side do I take? I don't know who's right or wrong. Maybe it's actually the north's fault, but no one took the time to look into it and then there's the south, ess-oh-ell, because the north got there first." Cain was impressed, as not only did he follow that logic, but he'd never thought of it from that point of view.
"But, that's why you need to give it a shot, Kid," he said calmly. "Like you said: You didn't grow up over there. You don't know how the place works and for just that reason," he said, pointing to her. "You are the perfect choice because you will see the angle that no one else does."
"I can't," DG said, shaking her head and backing away. Cain didn't want her to run again; he was only partly sure of where he was. He caught her arms again and held her still.
"Okay. Forget the Zone," he said with a shake of his head. "Forget the Guilds. Forget the people." He kept eye contact with her for a moment and quietly said: "What about your parents? Your sister? Your friends?" DG looked away and frowned. "Why didn't you tell them how you felt? They could have cut back on your lessons or sent you to-"
DG pulled out of Cain's grasp and laughed. "Yeah, because shipping me off to Finaqua would've solved everything. Look, Glitch got his brain back and needed to be him. Raw stayed because he didn't want to go back to is people. Why would he?" she asked with a shrug, now talking more to herself, Cain figured. "They treated him like a leper and Az asked him to stay with us. Besides, he and Glitch are buddies, and Raw can tell when Glitch is about to misfire, so it was a win-win. And you had Jeb," she said with a smile and a nod.
"I made sure everyone was fine before I left. Especially Az. Really, Cain... I screwed up the Zone enough as it is. The fact that the people didn't kick us all out on our butts is shocking," she said with a laugh. Now, it was her turn to grab his arms. "I've got nothing against the Zone, Cain. Please believe that." She took a deep breath and shrugged. "But it's not me." Glancing left and right, she never looked away from him. "This is." She let go of him and added: "I'm sorry they made you come after me." She turned and moved down the sidewalk, and was three steps away when she heard Cain.
"No one made me," he said simply. DG stopped, but didn't turn.
"When Glitch called the storm, I could have changed my mind. I could have said 'No' when Emily took my hat," Cain said with a heavy sigh. "I could have thrown the letter from your mother into the fire and gone back to listening to stories in the camp, DG." He took a step closer and frowned, as DG still hadn't turned to face him.
"When I found out you were gone, I-" DG turned around and Cain sighed. "Why didn't you want them to tell me?" he asked, shaking his head. DG closed her eyes and looked away. Opening her eyes, she looked at the display in the shop window beside them and shrugged before turning back to Cain.
"It wasn't your place to worry about me, Cain. You helped me save my sister and the Zone and I'm grateful. But I didn't want to hold you back. You had your life back and you deserved a chance to have that life. You didn't need to be babysitting me." Cain gave her a look and shook his head.
"I'm gonna worry, Kid. It's who I am," Cain said with a shrug. "And I'm gonna worry about you," he said stepping close enough to catch her shoulder. "Because you are my friend." DG didn't care about his feelings on the matter as she leaned into him and threw her arms around him.
"I'm really sorry," she mumbled into his new shirt. Cain rested his chin on her head and sighed. The things he let her get away with. 'And only her,' he realized. DG laughed slightly and leaned back, wiping at the tears that had formers in her eyes. "Some memorable vacation," she breathed and pulled away from him.
"Could be worse, Kid," Cain said with a shrug, wanting to cheer her up. DG gave him a look and he turned his head slightly. "Could be bein' chased by Papay runners." DG rolled her eyes and turned away, laughing as they started walking again.
Cain watched as DG moved into the front room with a trunk similar to his. She set it on the floor and dropped down as she flipped the latched. As she opened the lid, Cain leaned forward to look over the small table between them. DG pushed some of the items aside and smiled as she lifted a book out. Cain noticed that she pulled something from the book with one hand as the other held the book up to him.
"I thought you might be able to use this," she said, giving the yellow book a shake. Cain took it from her and raised an eyebrow after reading the title. She made a face and shrugged. "I mean, it's not gonna cover Papay runners or possessed princesses, but I'm sure you can relate to most of it." Cain set the book down on the table and nodded to the box.
"What is all that?" DG reached for another item.
"Stuff I've collected for you guys. And some stuff of mine and Mom and Pops-" She stopped short and shook her head. "Before Gulch went on a rampage of the house, Evie went over and collected up all the photos and valuables. I figured she was just holding out hope, but it seems that my mom told her almost everything. Specifically that, if we were to disappear in the middle of the night, not to worry." DG made a face and Cain frowned.
"So she played dumb for Gulch and kept our stuff in the attic. Anyway, I told her keep or sell most of the valuables, but I figured my parents would get a kick out of the photos and stuff," she said with a wave to the box. DG glanced back to the box and laughed as she pulled out a shirt. Giving it a shake, she held it up for Cain to see.
"It just screamed 'Ambrose!'," she said with a grin. The screenprint stated that 'CHICKS DIG BRAINY GUYS' and, while Cain never heard that particular phrase, he was quite sure what it meant. "And this ought to keep him busy," she noted, holding up a Rubik's cube. Seeing Cain's eyebrows raise slightly, she nodded to the cube. "The point it to get all the same colors on one side. Joke always was that the best way to solve it is just pull off the stickers," she shrugged before putting the toy back into the trunk.
"Oh! Picked this up in Kansas," she said, holding up a clear tube full of water. "Hopefully he won't try to take it apart," she mused, giving the thing a good shake and watching the miniature cyclone for a second before dropping it back into the pile. "I wanted to get Raw a copy of The Lion King, but there was no way to send over enough batteries for a portable DVD player," she shrugged again. Holding up a stack of books, she nodded: "They're pretty much written for five-year-olds, but I figured: keep it simple. What else?" she said, digging into the box again.
"Oh, some magazines for Az; for clothes and hair; I figure she'd enjoy that. And we were at the mall one day and I saw this green eyeshadow," DG said with a grin and a nod. "Figured it would do her if she's having a wicked-day. And a pink, for a girly-day." DG looked back down and sighed. "Oh, and I found you a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook," she added with a smirk. Cain let a grumble slip as DG pushed some items aside and pulled out a large book.
Cain noticed a set of envelopes, the same color as the paper he'd seen DG hide moments before. He made out Az's name on the top one as DG stood up and moved around the table with the book. "Ready for a good laugh?" she asked with a smile as she sat down next to him. He didn't respond but took the large book she placed in his hands. Looking down, Cain saw a set of pictures of DG at different stages of her life. She was telling him about the different images, but he didn't hear her. It took him all of a minute to make the connection.
She had no intention of going back.
Sure, she could sit there and have a story for every item in the box, but she wouldn't be delivering them personally. That's what the letters were for. Cain swallowed and glanced back down to the photos. DG, assuming Cain was remembering something from Jeb's childhood, quieted and focused on a photo of Popsicle and herself. She knew Mom had taken the photo, but she couldn't remember the occasion.
Cain closed the book and looked at DG. She turned away, finding the bookshelf interesting, but could feel his eyes on her. Turning back, she reached for the yellow book and tried to play dumb. "Let's find you a scenario," she stated, stopping as Cain pulled the book from her hands. She breathed and clenched her jaw before giving him a sideways glance.
"How long," he asked, just as she had done the day before. DG blinked and frowned.
"What?" Shaking her head, DG stood up and moved back around the table to the trunk, taking the photo album with her. Cain looked at the floor for a moment and pushed himself up from the couch then moved around to stand next to DG. He stopped right next to her, fully intending to intimidate her into talking. He saw her flinch, but knew her well enough to know that she wouldn't back down. Not from him.
"How long would you have waited?" DG looked up at him, feigning confusion with her expression. Cain knew what she was doing, but ignored it. "One annual? Seven?" Cain leaned toward DG. "When were you coming back?" he asked slowly and sharply. DG stared at the buttons on Cain's new shirt and tried to not let her lip tremble. When she didn't answer, Cain grabbed her arms and gave her a shake. He knew he'd scared her, but he didn't care.
"I may have spent eight annuals in the dark, Princess, but I am not stupid." DG shrugged out of his hold and pushed around him so that her back was to the open area – she knew Cain would never hurt her, but she had issues with anyone backing her into anything, even a coffee table. She closed her eyes and bit back the anger before looking up to Cain.
"I really don't want to have this fight with you, Cain." Cain threw his arms up and shook his head.
"When do you want to have it, then? I've got nothing but time," he said with a shrug. "It doesn't change the fact that you left," he said, pointing to her. DG glared at him and leaned against the counter.
"What do you care, Cain? Really? You aren't the boss of me. I don't need your permission to do a damn thing!" She pushed off the counter and paced back and forth a few times, trying to calm her nerves. She could usually ignore a person but, for whatever reason, Cain had a knack for sneaking in and throwing her off completely.
"Look, I appreciate that you are concerned about me, Cain," she said calmly. "But you don't need to keep protecting me. I am a big girl and I can take care of myself."
"I can see that," he snapped back, with a wave to the room.
"So you can go just back to the Zone and-" she waved to him.
"Maybe I will," Cain said with a sharp nod
"Good," DG nodded, her voice getting a bit louder.
"Fine!" Cain snapped back
"Great!" DG shouted and threw her arms up again and bolted for her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Cain let his head fall and breathed deeply before moving over to the counter and leaning against it. He turned slightly and pressed his back to the wall. As he dropped slowly to the floor, Cain told himself: 'That really could have gone better, you know.' But, he realized, scenes like this were precisely why he didn't argue with DG. Their discussions always seemed to become a fight and he didn't understand why. He breathed a laugh at the realization that, no matter which side he was on, the situation would never change.
And they still hadn't solved anything.
Wyatt Cain was about as home in the Zone after getting out of that damn suit as he was here. Why couldn't her just tell her that the reason he cared so much was because she was all he had? She and Glitch and Raw were his family now. Yes, Jeb was his son; Cain loved him dearly and nothing would change that, but Jeb didn't need him. He'd grown up without Cain and had his place in the Zone. Every time he looked at Jeb, Cain only saw the mistakes he made in the past; ignoring the consequences to do what he thought was right.
And he knew – even if Jeb didn't say it – all Jeb saw was the man who wasn't there. He couldn't make up for lost time, no matter how hard he tried. Cain was a Tin Man, badge or not, and he needed a mission; a task. Glitch and Raw could keep each other in check, for the most part. But DG was the wild card. She was unpredictable and it was best for the Outer Zone to make sure she was safe.
Of course, she seemed to be in more trouble when she was around the three of them, rather than on her own. And, while he'd made the Mystic Man a promise to keep her safe, even Cain knew that after everything they'd been through on their adventure – good and bad – once Azkadellia was free and DG was with her family, his vow was complete.
So why couldn't he just let her go?
On the other side of the closed door, DG was slumped against the same wall. Closing her eyes, she cursed herself and thumped her head against the hard surface.
'That could have gone better,' she thought. Once again, she'd just screwed everything up.
She wanted to go back out there and apologize. Really, she did. But she also did not want to let Cain win. Especially not when she had the home-court advantage. This was her life and he had no business telling her how to live it. 'He's just trying to be a friend,' her brain supplied. 'So... what? I'm just supposed to drop everything because he's here and he's worried about me and- What did he think I would do? Jump for joy and announce that I was ever so stupid for thinking I needed to be here and thank you for charging down the hill and returning my common sense...'
Yeah, it even sounded stupid in her head.
DG pushed herself up from the floor and moved over to the bed and flopped down. As she looked up at the ceiling, she decided not to apologize. After three years, he should know what to expect from her and if he didn't like it then tough. Nodding once with her decision, DG hauled herself up and moved into the bathroom, pushing the second door shut as she went.
Cain glanced up at the sound of the door closing and looked back down at the trunk. Rubbing a hand across his jaw and back to his neck, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. There was no way he was getting any sleep tonight.
'You could apologize,' his brain offered. Cain made a face and fought back a snort. 'If she wants to act like a child, I'll treat her like one. I have nothing to apologize for.' He dropped to the couch with a huff and punched at the pillow before shifting his weight to lie down. He lay there for nearly five minutes before realizing he would have to get up to turn off the light. But he didn't.
Wyatt Cain could be just as stubborn as Princess DG.
DG had tossed and turned most of the night, cursing Wyatt Cain; not to mention the Zone, the Witch, prophecies and – for good measure – Elmer Gulch. Around two, she threw the covers back with a huff, sat up and stared at the door. She climbed out of bed and moved over to the door, assuming Cain would hear her turn the knob, but pulled it open as quietly as she could.
She stopped short and peeked around the corner where she saw Cain laid out, jaw clenched in his sleep. She realized he could be faking it again, but saw him twitch slightly and she wondered when he'd last had a full night's sleep. She moved across the room and flicked the lightswitch off and leaned down to the still-open trunk. Lifting it slightly, she reached underneath and caught the edge of the envelope that had been inside the book for Cain.
She shot another glance to him and stood up, setting the envelope down on the table so she could pick up the blanket that was now piled on the floor. She gave it a shake and laid it across Cain before looking away with a frown. She turned and picked up the envelope, taking it with her as she moved back into her room.
DG never had considered how annoying the ringer on her phone was until that very moment. Squeezing her eyes shut, she rolled over and reached blindly for the stupid phone and opened one eye to see Sasha's name on the screen. Sighing heavily, she flipped the phone open and leaned up enough to look at the clock on the nightstand.
"Hey! Just wanted you to know that I'm running about five minutes behind schedule, but I'm on my way," Sasha chirped into the phone. DG blinked and looked at the clock again and her eyes went wide. Throwing herself up and out of the bed, she had to stop for a second as she was hit with a dizzy spell.
"Yeah, cool. No problem. I'll be ready," DG rambled out, as her vision returned to a single view of her room. She heard the click of Sasha ending the call and flipped the phone shut before tossing it onto the bed. 'Damn,' she thought as she moved to the closet and reached for the closest blouse she could find.
She'd spent half the night going over the argument with Cain and, by the time she'd fallen asleep, it was time to get up. Less than five minutes later, she was dressed, had run a brush through her hair and pulled it up, simply because she didn't feel like trying to do anything with it.
She breezed out of the bathroom and glanced to her right as she cleared the corner and saw Cain sitting on the couch, reading the book she'd given him the night before. "Hey," she said quickly, before remembering that her phone was on her bed and turning to go back for it.
She reappeared a moment later and took a deep breath as she glanced around, trying to remember what she needed. "I have to go to work," she said as she pulled her wallet out of her inner pocket. "There's a little bakery across the street," she said with a nod in that direction. "Missus Lowry runs the place; she has a little deli-type thing in the back... in case you get hungry. Good turkey sandwich," DG said with a nod as she held up a twenty for him to see then set it on the counter behind her. She moved over to the television and lifted the lid off the small wooden box sitting next to it. She held up a key for Cain to see and moved back to the counter, setting it down on top of the bill.
"I'll try and get out early today," she said, avoiding Cain's eye. Pointing to the table, she added: "Black one turns the tee-vee on, just press the red button." Her phone beeped again; Sasha was downstairs. DG finally looked up to Cain and gave him a blank look that could be taken in any way and then reached for the doorknob. As she opened the door, DG stopped and took a deep breath.
'Say it,' she told herself. Closing her eyes, she shook her head and bit back the apology that was right there, ready to be offered. She pulled the door shut and was two steps away when she turned back, opened the door and stuck her head in.
"See ya later, Cain."
Cain made it about an hour before setting down the book. He looked at the trunk and let out a deep breath before pushing himself up from the couch and moving around to the trunk. Kneeling down, he poked at the items on top, seeing the cube DG had held up the night before, as well as the shirt and the books. He picked up the stack of envelopes and flipped through them, seeing one for everyone but him.
Not that he cared.
He saw a stack of papers tucked against the side of the box and reached for them, seeing a card with DG's name on it, numbers on the back and a note that stated: 'Mom and Popsicle will know what to do with this'; a map similar to the one she'd given him at the museum; and a plain white page, folded in half. He opened it up and saw what looked like a copy of an image from a newspaper. It was an article about a couple who had been found in their home, victims of a gas leak - whatever that was, he didn't know.
They are survived by their son, who is traveling the world.
Cain frowned as his gaze moved to the note added to the bottom of the page, in DG's handwriting, realizing that the couple were Ahamo's parents.
Went to the cemetery. Brought flowers, introduced myself. Told them about Az and that you were well.
Cain refolded the page and placed it back with the others in the stack, shifting some of items so that he could close the lid. He stood up, rested his hands on his hips and glanced around the room for a moment before turning to the counter and the twenty. Maybe some fresh air would help clear his head.
Cain ended up spending a good five minutes at the door, intrigued by the lock and key of the door, before finally remembering why he was going outside. He made it down the stairs and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Looking both ways, he noticed the bakery that DG had mentioned. He checked the road again before stepping off the curb and crossing the street.
As he moved into the shop, Cain smiled at the similarities to the pastry shops of the Zone, even though this one was much brighter; not to mention, crowded with items. "Mornin' to ya, young man," he heard from somewhere in front of him. He had to laugh at being referred to as 'young' for the second time in a week and finally spotted the owner of the voice: a short, older woman. He nodded to her and stepped toward the counter.
"Good morning." She gave him a once-over and looked back down to the notepad in front of her. "Missus Lowry?" She glanced up again and smiled.
"Anythin' in particular I can help ya find?" she asked, marking something off the list. Cain sighed and glanced around the shop.
"No, ma'am. Just need to get outside; some fresh air," he said with a nod to the door. "And the turkey sandwich was recommended." She smiled up to him and pulled her glasses from her nose.
"'s a bit early for lunch," she half-stated, half-asked. Cain nodded and leaned forward slightly, as if to share a secret with her.
"I have to admit," he said with a tight smile. "I'm a bit out of my... zone... here." Missus Lowry nodded and leaned forward herself, her arms resting on the countertop.
"You an eastern boy?" Cain opened his mouth to respond, but blinked when he realized what she'd said. Puffing his cheeks, he could only nod and smile.
"Those time zones can be a pesky thing for the tourists," she said as she pushed up from the counter and moved around to stand next to Cain. "Don't take this the wrong way but... you look like Hell." Cain laughed and tried to not smile at the woman. "Coffee?" she asked, motioning to the counter on the opposite wall.
"Please," he answered as she moved behind the counter and pulled a cup from the stack.
"So," she began, glancing up at him as she poured the dark liquid into the cup. "What brings you to our little corner of California?" Cain took a deep breath and glanced to the window.
"Just checking in on a friend," he said with a nod as she passed the cup over.
"Did you get to do any sightseeing?" she asked, pouring a second cup of coffee for herself. Cain nodded as he swallowed a mouthful of coffee.
"Mm, the Pacific... the Gap and the Huntington," he listed. He took another sip and then asked: "Do you know where I might find a map?"
"A map? Of any place in particular?" Missus Lowry asked, moving back around the corner and directing him to follow her back to the other counter.
"There's a park... that... way?" Cain said, motioning in the direction he was fairly certain the park he'd come to after his trek down the mountain was. She nodded to him and pulled out a street map that looked like it had seen better days.
"Do you know which park it is?" she asked as she unfolded the map. Cain shook his head and closed his eyes as he retraced his steps.
"I went straight south and turned," he said, shifting to his right. "-and was at the Huntington." Missus Lowry smiled and looked back to the map. Placing a finger on the page, she used her other finger to trace a path east, then followed the lines north.
"Eaton Canyon?" she asked, straightening to let Cain look at the map. He followed the lines from the place she suggested and nodded, fairly certain it was the right place.
"How long would it take to get there?" he asked, giving her a look. She sighed and looked back at the map.
"From here?" She nodded a few times and looked back to him. "Half hour?" she guessed with a shrug. Cain's brow furrowed. It took him nearly an hour to get from the park to the Huntington, and it took nearly an hour to get to the Huntington. Noticing his reaction, she added: "Of course, that's assuming you hit all the green lights and-" She squinted slightly at the look on his face and shook her head.
"And you don't have a car..." Cain frowned and shook his head. "Well," she sighed. "By bus, I'd give it two hours. Of course, you could always take the train up to the last station, but you'd still have to get up the road," she stated with a nod toward the tracks outside.
"And walking?" he asked, knowing that he wasn't going to like her answer. Missus Lowry laughed and tilted her head when she realized he wasn't kidding.
"Oh, honey... No..." she trailed, shaking her head.
Half an hour later, Cain was sitting at one of the tables between the door and the far counter. Missus Lowry came back around the corner with a plate in her hand and set the sandwich down in front of Cain before sitting in the chair opposite him.
"Tell you what," she began, watching Cain not touch the sandwich. "Promise me you won't go walking to that park; and eat up," she said with a nod to the sandwich. "And soon as Simon gets back, I'll have him drive you up there."
"Simon?" Cain asked.
"My husband," she said, nodding to the sandwich again. "He's dropping off a cake up at the college." Cain blinked and reached for the sandwich but didn't take a bite.
"Much obliged, but... you don't even know me," Cain said, baffled at the woman's offer. She smiled and reached across the table to swat his hand then stood up
"Honey, if you were gonna rob the place, you wouldn't have used my name. Nor mentioned the turkey sandwich." Cain nodded, as she had a point. "'sides, any friend of that girl is a friend of mine," she said with a nod to the window. Cain blinked and looked up to Missus Lowry with a blank stare, then frowned slightly.
"I- How..." Missus Lowry laughed and adjusted the boxes on the end shelf.
"Only one person 'round here works at the Huntington and orders the turkey sandwich." She gave him a nod and pointed to the sandwich in front of him before walking back to the counter and her list.
Cain stared at the sandwich for a moment and breathed a laugh.
Cain found himself roped into helping Missus Lowry – who insisted twice he call her Jeanie – move some boxes from the supply closet to the kitchen. About an hour later, Simon returned from his delivery and Jeanie told him she'd offered his services as a chauffer. Simon agreed, but wanted to go upstairs, shower and change first. Cain was fine with waiting, as he still had to go back to DG's and secure the trunk for a trip through the travel storm, not to mention go over the instructions from Azkadellia on how to go about calling the cyclone.
Returning to the apartment, DG checked the desk for some paper and a pencil, but only found a pen. It took him a few moments to figure out how to get the thing to work and sat down to think about what he wanted to say in the note. It seemed his lack of words wasn't just vocal, but also with the written. Instead, he decided to check the trunk and, five minutes later, still had no idea what to write.
Cain found himself staring at the drawing of himself, Glitch and Raw and he finally knew what he wanted to say.
...some fantastic things... can't force... friend... understand... safe...
Sitting back, Cain sighed heavily and set down the pen, then took a second to reread his note. Satisfied that it said everything he wanted to say, Cain folded the page and pushed himself up from the desk. Taking a last look around the apartment, Cain moved over to the truck, secured the latches again and heaved the thing up from the floor.
Ten minutes later, Cain met Simon at the truck. "Y'know, I could probably find you a pack for that," he said with a nod to the truck. "Might be easier to haul around the mountains if your gear is on your back instead of in a box."
"Not to worry. I've moved heavier a lot further," Cain said with a nod, thinking back to some of the training sessions before he became a Tin Man. Simon shrugged and motioned for Cain to hop into the truck, and Jeanie stepped out from the shop to give them a wave. Cain had one foot in the cab when he pulled back and moved around to Jeanie.
"Thank you for keeping an eye on DG." Jeanie gave him a look and smiled before patting him on the arm.
"Happy to do it. She's a great girl and it's like having the kids back at home." Cain nodded and gave her a tight smile before moving back around the truck and finally getting into the cab. Jeanie gave them another wave as they pulled away and stayed at the door until the truck cleared the corner.
DG had been in a mood most of the morning, which Stella had asked her about on the drive to work. DG had simply stated she hadn't slept well and changed the subject. The day moved along fairly quickly for everyone at the Huntington – everyone but DG, of course.
She was in the children's area at ten, when two boys were arguing over whether or not one of them was a 'fraidy-cat.' At eleven thirty, an elderly man and his wife were discussing the fact that he couldn't remember the name of the man they were supposed to be meeting later on, nor why they had the appointment in the first place. At twelve, she overheard a group of girls from one of the high schools discussing the fact that their teacher must be possessed because they were miserable and only a witch would think art was interesting.
But it was the college student at one forty-five that made DG worry. He'd been looking at the paintings in the gallery as she'd passed by, and he asked if she could help him decipher the meaning behind the piece of art. DG glanced at the grey and blue strokes and gave the young man a smile, telling him that the whole point of the painting was for him to see whatever he saw. There was no right or wrong answer.
He sighed and looked at the painting again, then turned back to her. "Looks like the inside of a twister, y'ask me," he trailed before giving her a shrug, thanking her and moving on. DG looked at the painting again and frowned, suddenly have a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Jeanie was just closing out the register when the phone rang. "Lowry's Bakery."
"Missus Lowry, it's DG."
"Hello dear," Jeanie smiled as she made a note on the slip of register tape in front of her.
"I know you're probably closing up, but... Well, I was just wondering if-" Jeanie smiled into the phone a nodded.
"If a blue-eyed devil stopped by for lunch?" DG laughed and looked down to her desk.
"He did. Charming young man, he was, too."
"Glad to hear it. I just wanted to make sure he didn't stay cooped up in the apartment all day. I had to rush out this morning; sorta left him high and dry," DG breathed, still not sure why there was a knot in her stomach.
Actually, she knew exactly why she had a knot, but she wasn't going to admit it.
Jeanie smiled again and set down her pen. "Not to worry, sweetheart. Simon gave him a ride." DG's breath hitched and she blinked as the knot tightened.
"A ride?" she asked quietly.
Jeanie nodded as she moved over to the door and flipped the lock, then the Closed sign. "Yes. The crazy fool had me believing he was gonna walk," she said with a laugh. DG straightened in her chair and took a deep breath.
"Do you know where they went?" As much as DG tried to hide it, Jeanie could hear the tension in the girl's voice.
"Yes, dear. Up to Eaton Canyon. Just north of you." At the silence on he other end of the phone, Jeanie frowned. "Are you all right, dear?"
"Uh... yeah," DG stammered as she closed her eyes and let her head drop slightly. "When did the leave?"
"Oh," Jeanie started, glancing at the clock on the register. "Maybe... fifteen minutes ago." DG's breath hitched again, but she bit it back.
"Okay, uh... I've gotta go; work, and all. I'll stop by later," she mumbled quickly and added: "Thanks," before handing up the phone. DG's hands clapped across her mouth and nose and her eyes went wide. Snapping out of it, DG pushed back from her desk and bolted for the door.
It took DG five minutes to find Sasha – she was coming back across the grounds with the new grounds rental applications when DG ran up to her. "I need to borrow your car," DG said quickly and out of breath.
"Are you okay?" Sasha asked, worried at DG's appearance. DG shook her head and tried to slow her breathing.
"Please, Sash. I'll explain later." She caught Sasha's wrists and squeezed. "Please," she begged, trying to keep the tears at bay. Sasha nodded to the visitors center and hitched a thumb over her shoulder as DG let go of her hands.
"They're in my bag. Are you-" she began to ask, but DG nodded and stepped around her.
"Thanks, Sash." She took off for the main building and Sasha could only watch in confusion.
DG headed up to California Boulevard, knowing she had to go east a few blocks before she got to Altadena. She wondered if it was a fluke of the travel storm that it spit Cain out in the park, or if there was some sort of logic to it. She'd come through in the mountains north of the park, as well.
As she sat at the various traffic lights, DG watched the clock and fought back the tears as she wondering if she could control the lights with magic. But she never actually tried. How could he seriously believe she meant for him to go back? They'd had plenty of spats and, after a few hours, were both over it and soon fighting about something new.
She pulled into the parking lot and looked for Simon's truck, but didn't see it. Locking up the car, DG shoved the keys in her pocket as she bolted for the trail up the into the canyon, praying she could remember which fork would lead her up to the touchdown point.
As she climbed up the mountain, DG was not only thankful she'd worn pants and boots, but cursed Cain for pulling this crap. How dare he leave like this! What was she supposed to think when she got home from work and found him gone? He could be kidnapped or dead in a ditch or...
DG lost her footing and slipped as she realized the true meaning of the phrase 'Payback is a bitch.' This was how her parents must have felt when they'd realized she was gone. Not to mention Glitch, Raw, Az... and Cain. She sat on the ground for a moment, fighting back the urge to throw up as her brain and stomach both threw up a B.S. flag at the same time.
She was starting to wish she'd not caught the edge of the balcony during the eclipse.
She could hear the sound of the storm and, while she couldn't see the funnel cloud itself, she could she the dark clouds forming in the sky. Forcing herself up from the ground, DG continued up the side of the mountain, wondering is anyone else could see the storm forming.
Cain watched as the funnel cloud formed in front of him, both rather impressed with Glitch's instructions and slightly afraid of the force of nature. Taking a moment to glance over his shoulder, Cain frowned and sighed heavily before turning back and giving the trunk a shove into the swirling cloud.
DG scrambled to the clearing as the cloud began to dissipate. "No... nonononono," she mumbled as the tear began to fall. He legs finally gave out – she'd been ignoring the tingly feeling the last hundred yards – and she planted her hands and took a few deep breaths, cursing herself silently.
And now she had to live with the fact that Cain had left thinking she was mad at him. She knew she'd have to go back now, but she also knew that Wyatt Cain wouldn't be there to greet her upon return. She'd probably never see him again and that thought killed her.
Glitch was sitting in his lab, reading over a large book when about a dozen bells and alarms began going off. He jerked around at the small orchestra and had to think about why so many little noises would be going off at once, not to mention who had turned on all this alarms. His eyes moved up to the window and he noticed the clouds outside beginning to shift and darken and his head snapped up.
He shot up from the chair and ran for the door, sliding on the floor as he turned the first corner and nearly tumbling down the stairs. He made it outside the eastern entrance of the palace just as the funnel cloud touched down in the field surrounding the back side of Central City.
He hurried out to the field and watched as the funnel zig-zagged through the tall grass but stayed fairly stationary. There was an odd sound and a flash of light, which made him flinch and throw a hand up to shield his eyes as the light flashed again.
Glitch was relieved that he didn't have to send Hank and Emily through to the Other Side, simply because he knew that if they went, no one else could follow. Well, he or Raw could follow, but he didn't want to deal with an angry Wyatt Cain if either of them showed up.
Besides, Cain had said that Glitch and Raw would not blend in – as if they blended in the Zone – and would most likely be captured upon arrival. And Glitch didn't like the sound of that. Neither did Raw. Hank, Emily and Ahamo had also told Glitch he should go, and while Glitch didn't remember why, exactly, he understood their warning.
But the travel storm was here and that meant that Cain had found DG and was bringing her home. And that was good. Unless DG was coming home on her own and didn't know Cain was on the Other Side and that would mean that Cain was stuck and someone would have to go back for him and-
Another flash of light, coupled with a crackling sound, snapped Glitch out of his glitch and he remembered why he was out in the field watching the storm dance around in front of him.
Cain was bringing DG home.
Why had they waited seven cycles before going to find her again? Glitch remembered that Raw was upset that morning, but he didn't know why. And then Azkadellia came into the dining room with a frown because she couldn't find DG. And then Ahamo had arrived and passed a piece of paper to the Queen.
Glitch did remember than she went pale, and Raw made a sound that concerned him, but he didn't know why. And then the Queen told them all that DG had left. Glitch didn't realize that she had left for the Other Side until much later, because he assumed she'd gone to see Cain. None of them had seen Cain for nearly a cycle and, as fun as Central City was, it was more fun when the four of them were together.
He didn't know why, of course; just that it was.
But, very soon – he hoped – Cain and DG would appear in the cloud and everyone would be happy. And DG would tell him about everything she'd seen on the Other Side. Glitch loved to hear stories about the Other Side, especially the ones about the inventions DG had seen.
Glitch forgot he was watching the cloud and turned back around to look at the palace, where he saw Raw standing. He didn't know why Raw looked the way he did, but Glitch didn't think it was a very good look for the Viewer. In fact, he didn't look happy at all.
There was another cracking noise and Glitch turned to see what had made the noise, jumping when he saw the large black funnel cloud skipping around the field. A moment later, his synapses fired and he remembered: Cain and DG were coming home.
There was another flash of light and Glitch stared at the ground. His head cocked to one side and he wondered why he was standing in front of a funnel cloud, out in the middle of a field, when there was a perfectly safe palace behind him.
Then he saw the trunk.
He didn't remember seeing there before, but Glitch stepped toward it and leaned over. He was aware of the cloud still spinning mere yards from him, but he didn't remember to be intimidated. His head titled to one side as he considered the box and then glanced up to the cloud, watching as the thing moved away slowly.
He knew that wasn't a good sign, but he didn't know why.
DG pushed up from the ground and wiped away the tears streaming down her face, thankful there was no one around to see her in this state. She took a few deep breaths and cleared her throat then glanced up to where the cloud had just been.
"This book you gave me didn't cover this particular scenario." DG's eyes went wide as she straightened. She turned slowly, sure she was hearing things and her breath caught when she saw Cain standing there, just off to the side behind her. He was holding up the yellow book, but his eyes were locked on her. "This one," he said, holding up the other book with his other hand. "-says 'Be prepared'," he stated, giving her the slightest shrug.
DG screwed up her face, not wanting to cry, but she didn't care anymore. She lunged for Cain and threw her arms around him, hugging him as tight as she could. He hugged her back and pressed his cheek into the top of her head as she apologized over and over into his jacket.
"You think you're gettin' rid of me with a silly argument, Kid? You've got a lot to learn," he said with a laugh, realizing that he was actually crying, too. DG pulled back from him and wiped at her eyes.
"I didn't mean to-" She shook her head and groaned. "Can we just call a truce? Because, trust me: you made your point," she said with a wave to where the cyclone had just been.
"Sounds good," he said with a laugh as she hugged him again.
Glitch carried the trunk back to the steps of the palace and set it down next to Raw, who was still frowning. Glitch popped the latches open and smiled at the collection of stuff and noticed a folded piece of paper with his name on it. He picked it up and unfolded the page.
I thought I'd seen some fantastic things since getting out of that suit, but I was wrong.
This place is... well, I don't know the words.
I found DG. She's safe.
No need to send Hank and Emily.
I can't force her to leave. She needs to decide for herself.
I don't think she knows it, but she needs a friend right now.
I'm going to stay until I can get her to understand that.
Tell her parents I will keep her safe.
Glitch looked up to Raw and frowned as he passed the note up to his friend. Looking back down to the contents of the trunk, Glitch saw the stack of envelopes; one for the Queen and Ahamo and one for Jeb, in Cain's hand; the rest in DG's. He glanced back up to Raw and noticed that the Viewer was smiling.
Two hours later – after explaining part her emergency to Sasha and requesting a few vacation days – DG and Cain stepped off the bus, as they had done twice before, and crossed the tracks. DG spotted Simon pulling a box out of the back of his truck and Jeanie standing on the sidewalk, giving him instructions. When she saw DG and Cain, Jeanie shushed Simon and waved them over.
She gave DG a hug and raised an eyebrow at Cain, who simply nodded. "Get where you needed to be?" she asked with a glare toward Simon. DG smirked, seeing the box he was pulling from the back of the truck. She wouldn't tell Jeanie that she'd helped Simon pick the grill the week before. Cain shot the quickest glance to DG and then nodded to Jeanie.
"I did." He gave her another nod and turned to help Simon unload the box as Jeanie pulled DG aside.
"Are you all right? You didn't sound well," she asked with a frown.
"Yes, I'm fine," DG said with a nod and a smile.
"So..." Jeanie trailed with a look to Cain and her husband. "Will your friend be staying in town a while longer?" DG tried to fight the grin and nodded. "Good," Jeanie said with a nod of her own, then dropped her voice and added: "It'll be nice to see him around." DG snorted and turned away as Cain and Simon looked up at the both of them.
It wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't said it the way she did, DG thought. Especially since Jeanie Lowry was married.
And probably old enough to be Cain's mother.