The memories flooded into her mind the same way, she imagined, ocean water overcame the baracades surrounding New Orleans in 2006. She felt every neron in her brain spasm with the onslaught of information and memories that weren't hers but that she'd need. Knowledge that would save the lives of many men, women, and children.
As her mind started to sort through the information being forced into it, DG began to feel the splitting headache that Thia had promised. She whimpered as she felt the information taper off until no more was shoved into her abused brain.
"Owie," she moaned as her hands came up to cradle her cranium.
"Don't worry, Doll," Glitch said cheerfully, "It'll go away soon. And now you know all sorts of fun stuff that you didn't know before."
She gave him a weak smile for his attempt at humor. "Thanks, Glitch. Maybe after things settle down here we can go have Az put your brain back together for you."
Glitch smiled and patted her hand, "Let's worry about keeping the country together, Doll. We can worry about my brain later. Brain later. Brain -- Oh, hello. Name's Glitch. Have we met?" It was a hard thump on the back from Cain that brought Glitch out of his glitching cycle, and a glare that stopped the advisor from speaking again.
DG's smile widened a little at the humorous episode that played out before her eyes. A glass of something that looked like water was thrust into her vision by an unknown hand.
She took the cup and looked up into Raw's kind face. "Drink. Will dull pain."
"Thanks," she replied, finding the clear liquid tasted like regular water, but as soon as it touched her lips it did ease the ache in her head to a bearable level. With a sigh she looked at the men surrounding her before turning to look at Thia, only to find that their visitors had disappeared.
"Where'd they go?" DG asked, her heart thumping loudly in her chest as she searched in vain for the couple and their three goblin guards.
Cain looked around, having been too concerned with DG that he had lost track of the other couple for a moment. Apparently that was all it took, "They must have gone back to their own reality."
"So, that's it?" DG asked with a frown of confusion. "She dumps her memories in me and gets to go home? Just like that?"
Cain shrugged, "That was all she was asked to do."
Her frown deepened as she thought about the logic of it as she sorted through her new memories. There was one that particularly stood out from the others. Not because it was the answer to their problem of King Jackson's invasion, but because it was a particularly odd memory to associate with magick. "Remember the Alamo?" she said in a confused tone to no one particular.
Cain frowned at her, "Don't you mean the Palamo?"
DG's confusion increased at his words. "The Palamo? What's that?"
Glitch's eyebrows rose as he stared at her as if she had two heads, "Doll, the Palamo was the last battle of resistance when the O.Z. was first formed. Seventy-five men were killed after holing up in a castle just north of her for three hundred days."
She shook her head, "The Alamo is different. It's something that happened on the Other Side. I don't know why she brought it up. Maybe Ahamo will have an idea."
"You feel up to goin' to find them?" Cain was clearly worried about her after finding out how much pain she was in.
DG nodded, unsure she should, but knowing there was no other way, "Whether or not, Jackson's coming and we can't wait for me to get better before we start planning."
Thia held on tightly to her husband's arm as she felt the pull of inter-dimensional travel. One second she was pouring her memories of magick class and late nights memorizing spells into DG, and the next she felt her body being pulled back into her own reality.
"Mom? Dad?" she heard a rather familiar voice call out hesitantly as her body settled into their original reality once again.
She opened her eyes, unsure what she was going to find, but what her eyes rested upon was definitely not it. Her husband tensed beside her and she felt herself torn between a glare and a laugh at the sight of a clearly frightened Jeb and Lya in a rather ... compromising position.
"Jeb Cain!" Thia said at the same time as her husband.
"We taught you better than that!" Wyatt finished, making it clear that they were together on this stand.
Lya blushed and sat up, smoothing down her skirt as she moved away from a very guilty looking Jeb. "I'll just ..."
"Stay right there, young lady," Thia replied, pointing to the other side of the sofa the two had been canoodling on. She got up from the chair the Metatron had been kind enough to deposit her on, one hand on her stomach (which was protruding a little more than it had a week before) to emphasize her point as she sighed exasperatedly. "What a sight to come home to, Jeb! I just finish making sure that another reality won't dissolve into a million pieces and you're here ..." she waved her hand vaguely to encompass the whole situation, "Doing this. Why aren't you helping your uncle or aunt with their duties and the children?"
Jeb looked down at his lap as he mumbled, "Uncle Jareth banned me from helping him while you guys were gone. And Az started getting nervous with me around all the time."
"And your studies?" Wyatt asked, crossing his arms across his chest and looking more fierce than was completely necessary. "You're leaving in two months for school. Have you been keeping up with your reading and practicing?"
The goblin prince shrugged as he scuffed his feet on the floor. His parents certainly seemed to have a way of making him feel like a child sometimes.
Thia felt tears come into her eyes unbidden as she watched her step-son, "I've been gone for almost a week and you haven't even given me a hug yet."
Jeb immediately bolted out of his seat and launched himself at his step-mother, giving her as tight a hug as he dared given her pregnant belly. "I missed you, Mom," he whispered into her ear. "And then when Dad left -- I wasn't sure what to do. I was so scared that you'd never come back."
Thia held on just as tightly, "We're here now, Jeb. It's okay. We're not really mad." They released each other and Jeb went to hug his father as Thia looked at the contrite looking redhead who was trying to disappear into the sofa. "If you're going to be messing around in such a manner, make sure that your birth charms are active so you don't wind up with a bun in the oven before you're ready."
Lya launched herself off the sofa and hugged the princess tightly. "I'll be careful, Thia. I've missed you."
"I've missed you too, Lya. Things over there were just so different. I could hardly stand it." Thia released her son's girlfriend and smiled at how happy the smiling girl made her. She was finally home.
"Let us out! Let us out!" a voice squealed from the floor by their feet.
The four of them looked down and came face to ... well, blanket. There on the floor was the blanket Wyatt's mother had made for them when they had gotten married. And it was moving. Wyatt took a step back from his son and toward the blanket, picking it up to reveal the three goblins that had gone with Thia to the other reality.
"Thank you, Prince-man!" Ding said as the three got up from where the blanket had caused them to fall. "Gotta run now so you can't bog us!" and with that they were gone, running toward the shadows and out into the rest of the castle.
Wyatt's eyes twinkled as he watched them run for their hides. "It's good to be home."
"Were there a lot of differences with their reality?" Adrian asked at supper that night after everyone had a chance to hug Thia and Wyatt and tell them how good it was that they were back.
Thia nodded, "Too many to tell you about." She glanced at her sister and the baby that was at her side. Peanut was eating with her father in his private chambers for some reason that Thia didn't really care about. "I'm not even sure I should tell you some of the things that are different there."
Az smiled at her sister, "It can't be that bad, Thia."
Wyatt cleared his throat as he put down his fork, "Actually, Az, it can." He wasn't sure how to explain what they'd found out in the Other Reality. With a sigh he shook his head and took another bite of the filet in front of him. "Just be glad we're in this reality."
"The Metatron seemed to insinuate that their reality wasn't very different from ours," Nesa commented before taking a bite from her own dinner. "What are some of the changes you saw?"
Thia was tired and unsure how to put her words kindly. So she didn't try, "Az spent the past fifteen annuals possessed with the Great Witch that they failed to destroy in the cave we were exploring. She killed DG, and their Mother, had to bring her back to life. The Witch, through Az, took over the O.Z. and locked the Queen in a small, magickal prison for thirteen annuals. Ahamo spent that time living in the Realm of the Unwanted, and DG was stuck in a little farmhouse on the Other Side, oblivious to the war going on in her name." She looked down at her hands as she decided whether or not to continue.
It was Az who made the decision for her as she got up from her seat and hugged her sister tightly. "I'm sorry you had to see all of that, Deeg. It must've been hard for you."
She hugged back fiercely as she couldn't help but let out a snort, "I'm not sure I could have done it without that Easy Button you sent me."
Az leaned back on her heels and grinned at her little sister, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"It was perfect," Thia agreed, unable to hold back her laughter at the thought of the little red button.
"Hey," Jeb's head shot up as he asked, "Can we have a Shrek marathon after supper's done? Lya hasn't seen them yet and I'm sure Peanut would like them."
"That sounds great, son," Wyatt replied with a nod. "The humor would do us all good."
Just then, the servants came in with the flaming chocolate mouse that was to be their dessert.
Thia's eyes sparkled with anticipation as Az returned to her seat, "Now that's the O.Z. I remember."
Seven Months Later
DG was signing papers at her "new" desk, unsure if she just thought the desk was overcompensating for something, or if it just seemed so big because of her small frame. Either way it was too big and the only reason she put up with it was because Glitch told her it was an heirloom passed down from the fist queen of the O.Z. If she didn't use it, it would be just as good as demanding she have a new crown.
Being queen when there wasn't a war or major economic crisis to deal with was, quite frankly, about as boring as staring at a field of wheat all day without any paper or charcoals. It was about as fun as getting a root canal. And, of course, she had to explain almost every other word that came out of her mouth. It wasn't fair!
She hadn't even been able to really prepare for being queen. All she had was the memories Thia pushed into her brain right before disappearing into thin air, the lessons she had learned from history class, and what Cain and Glitch and Raw helped her with. She'd really be lost without them.
DG sighed as she looked down at the paper she was signing. Apparently they were going to have to use the spare copy because she had stopped signing her name half way through and started drawing a picture of Momster and Popsicle. Gods she missed them.
She thought about the last few months and what had brought her to where she was today: sitting at her massive desk in a massive gown that made her waist look two inches big thanks to all the yards of fabric an the corset -- that she had no say in picking out -- signing papers that had to do with the allocation of food stuffs, the reopening of universities and primary schools, and medical supplies.
After kicking the ass of King Jackson into the week before he was born, DG had learned quickly that her magick would suggest that she do the oddest things if she didn't keep it under a firm hand. One of the many past times her magick enjoyed was tormenting the Tin Man. She often found herself bored in meetings and would send his beloved hat twirling through the air without a second thought. Or magickally bring up the seat of his pants just a few more inches.
She grinned at the thought of her torment of him. True, it seemed like every other month there was another enemy to take care of who thought she would be a push over of a queen without a Prince Consort yet and no heir to speak of, but that didn't mean that there weren't good times as well.
One of her favorites was when one of the orphanages she had opened put on a little skit in her honor of her journey through the O.Z. to save them all. The little girl who had the honor of playing the leading role had nearly fainted when Cain told her she was as pretty as her character.
Her thoughts drifted to when she was told that her nurture units were broken beyond repair. She had cried the whole night through from the safety of Cain's supportive arms. That brought a smile to her face as she remembered the day they had decided to get married ... well ... that's not exactly what happened ...
DG had just found out that her advisors were inviting some potential suitors to the palace at Central City from around the realm and she wanted nothing more than to cry. They didn't think a queen hastily crowned in war could find a suitable mate to help her in ruling her country.
Cain walked toward where she was swinging on the swing in the gazebo at Finaqua. He stood next to her as she rocked back and forth, "You okay, kid?"
Her head shook of its own accord, "Not really." Her eyes flickered up to his, "I thought queens were supposed to know what was going on around them. But now people are telling me I have to get married to some guy I don't even know. For the kingdom."
"That's not totally true, DG," he responded, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he gazed at her from under the brim of his hat. "I actually came out here to ask you if you wanted to get married in Central City, Finaqua, or the Northern Palace?"
She frowned up at him, "Get married to who?"
"Me, of course. Who else?" They hadn't talked about what had happened at her coronation. No one else had talked about it, either. Her advisors knew that the O.Z. would honor her choice of consort unless the man she chose was a fiend, and without knowing that the O.Z. and it's Queen had already chosen, they had set about finding her a suitable companion.
DG shook her head as she shot up from the swing to stand at her full height, "No, no, no. No way, Tin Man. I'm not letting you do this just because the O.Z. thinks you're a good match for me. That's not good enough. I won't --"
Wyatt cut her off with his lips on hers in an action that not only made her stop talking, but solidified their bond as mates for all eternity. When he broke apart for breath he continued to hold onto her arms tightly, afraid that she would whisk away on the wind if he let go. "It's not about the damn kingdom, DG. It's about you and it's about me. I love you, gods damn it, and I'm not letting you screw this up for the both of us!"
Her heart was beating faster and faster as she digested his words. He loved her? Really loved her? He wasn't just saying that? Her heart soared as she leaned into his embrace once more, wrapping her arms around his waist as she rested her head on his shoulder. There really was only one appropriate response. "I love you too."
He sighed in relief and stroked her back with one of his hands as the other came up to cradle the back of her head. "And where do you want to marry me?"
A knock on the door caused DG to look up. She smiled when she saw Az standing there in all her pregnant glory. "What are you doing signing papers, Deeg?" her older sister asked irately. "You're getting married in five minutes and you don't even have your shoes on yet!"
DG grinned as she ran out from behind her desk and went to join her sister in the search for her shoes. Her wedding shoes. Because in five minutes she was marrying Wyatt Freakin' Cain.
A/N: My new mantra is: Just say no to sequels. If you're at all into Leverage go check out my new cross over with Stargate SG-1. ... Or just stay tuned for me to get back to writing something that's more your style. I love all my reviewers and readers. Thank you.