Title: After His World Stopped
Characters/Pairings: DG/Cain, rest of the cast, O/Cs
Warnings/Spoilers: Adult content. Smut
Summary: Cain and DG come to terms with their new lives after the eclipse. A/N: Thanks for the reviews I have received. This was my first time posting in . I didn't realize that the length of chapters would be a problem so I am reposting using more bite-size pieces. Nothing new except the format and this note.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything, anyone or anyplace.
His world stopped.
Cain wondered how long he had been staring. No, it was okay. Glitch and Raw were just standing back up from dumping the Longcoat's body on the other side of the room. It had just been a few seconds … not the eternity his brain had registered. He started talking. He had no idea what he was saying.
"Do you think Zero is going to wait?"
DG's question made him stop. Right! They were here for a reason. Finally his sluggish brain slammed into gear. He was thinking again. DG had to get the information. Cain had to get them all out of Central City.
DG and the Mystic Man were talking about her blue eyes.
"But your mother had lavender," the Mystic Man pronounced.
Cain's heart flipped over. He stared at Glitch. The Zipperhead's startled expression must have mirrored his own. How the hell did he get himself into this situation?
Cain was silent as he drove Demilo's truck north. DG had changed her clothes the first time they had stopped the wagon-like vehicle. She was now sitting quietly beside him, in her Othersider clothes, looking out the window. Sluggishly his mind began to go over what had happened back in the Mystic Man's room.
He gave DG a quick sideways glance. She was beautiful. She was a princess. And she was not a kid. That dress had left no doubt in his mind about that. He let out an angst-ridden sigh. Oh, yeah, he was going to be calling her 'kiddo' all the time – just to keep everything straight in his own mind.
He spun to attack the people who had struck Glitch only to find himself staring at Raw and DG. She threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. He forced down his feeling of joy at finding her. Zero had said Adora was alive. It took all of his will power, but his arms stayed down at his side. He ordered his mind to remember he had a wife and this girl was only a traveling companion he had known a few short days. He ignored the twinge he felt as he saw the uncertainty in her eyes, the way she refused to look at his face as she backed away from him.
Jeb and Adora were alive! Ralph and Lorraine had seen them just a few months earlier. The sight of the white elm made his heart race. It seemed like it was beating for the first time since he had been released from the suit. He was running across the meadow like a school boy. Suddenly everything stopped … including his heart. The sight of the iron suit literally made him stop breathing. The idea of his son being forced into one of those things made him go cold all over. He forced himself to do the hardest thing he had ever done in his life. He opened the suit. No one – it was empty. He began to feel better. He turned.
Then he saw the grave.
He had no idea how long he had been kneeling there. Not long he thought. He felt someone's gentle touch. He knew it was DG without looking around. He could feel her concern fall over him like a warm blanket. He said goodbye to the wife he had been mourning for so many years, stood up and walked away.
Later, he knew he had been rude to Raw when the viewer tried to tell him Jeb was still alive. But he never wanted to feel anything again. Certainly not hope. He just wanted this adventure over so he could go back into his shell. He needed to decide how he was going to be able to go on breathing – he was sure he was done living.
The net dropped. DG was lost. The ice that had been surrounding his heart burst into flame as he called out to her. Suddenly he realized that the girl had brought a permanent change into his life. He wasn't sure what it was she had done to him but he knew he would never be the same.
How many more shocks could he take before he was completely undone? Jeb. Alive. Rescuing him from the Longcoats. The leader of a resistance cell. Cain was so proud. But how in Ozma's Name was he going to establish a relationship with this hardened combatant that his little boy had become?
They had not seen eye-to-eye over how to deal with Zero. But Jeb and his people had hurriedly volunteered to help finish the witch. He had only questioned Cain's determination to go in search of DG.
He and Jeb said goodbye before going their separate ways. Each understood they had to complete their portion of the upcoming mission if the enterprise was going to be successful. He hoped he and his son would get another chance to talk about all the things they hadn't discussed during the only night they had spent together in over eight years.
He stared at the hand DG extended to tell him goodbye. He was not going to miss another chance to start letting her know what she meant to him. He grabbed her and hugged her close for a long moment. Then, with a jerk of his head, he let her lead the way back to the others, to start the attack on the tower. He knew, full well, that if anything happened to her before the day was out he might as well be locked back in that iron suit.
The royal family turned from the sun drenched O.Z. to see DG's friends as they stood in a row. Ahamo came forward and extended his hand to Cain. Seeing the damage to Cain's right shoulder, he lowered his hand with a grin and a nod. Even though Raw had healed the gunshot, Ahamo knew it would still be stiff for a while.
"You were with DG in the Realm," Ahamo stated, referring to the Realm of the Unwanted where the quartet had come looking for him.
Cain's left hand moved to his hat. He removed it as a gesture of respect. He bowed his head as Lavender came to stand beside her husband.
"DG, will you introduce your companions?" the Queen asked.
"Well, you know Glitch," DG started.
Glitch made a deep court bow.
"Ambrose, it is good to see you again," Lavender took both of his hands in hers. "I honestly never …" There was a breathy little sigh, then she smiled. "I am so glad you survived."
"Raw," DG motioned her hand to the viewer who also bowed.
"I am sure you have been a great help to our daughter," Lavender committed before turning her eyes towards Cain.
"Have we met?" she asked.
"No, Your Majesty, but I was with the Mystic Man's Protection Detail during some of his visits to the Central City Palace. Wyatt Cain."
"Of course, that's why you look familiar. Thank you for your help, Mr. Cain." She turned to her daughters. She held out a hand to Azkadellia. "You need to issue commands to any Longcoats left in the tower to surrender immediately to the Resistance Fighters." She looked at DG. "I assume you know someone with the resistance we can put in charge of the prisoners until there is time to sort everything out."
"My son is the leader of the resistance cell that attacked the tower," Cain spoke up. "I'll bring him here for you." He gave a brief nod of his head and left.
As DG watched him go she pulled gently on her lower lip with her teeth.
"When I carried you away from your friends," Ahamo said, "it was his name you were calling."
DG turned wide blue eyes thoughtfully to her father. "He's the reason I made it through the O.Z. and back to the tower in time."
"A Tin Man?" Lavender questioned.
"A good, brave man," DG replied.
Raw had gone with Glitch to release the viewers being held in the prison cells. When Jeb arrived, he had been put in charge by the Queen. He immediately sent his people into the cells to sort out Resistance Fighters from any actual criminals. Once the cells were cleaned out, he stuffed Longcoats into the emptied chambers. There were way too many people in each cell, but no one seemed overly upset that the sorceress' people might be uncomfortable for a day or two.
Late in the evening, Jeb joined the royals, his father, Glitch and Raw in a large hall that had been turned into a temporary mess. As he approached the group, his second-in-command, Lucas McCalhan, arrived at his side.
"Wounded?" Jeb asked.
"The released viewers are helping our healers. Everyone's taking shifts getting a good meal since they haven't eaten hot food for two days."
Jeb nodded. "I'd like to rest with my father for a few minutes," he said dropping into a chair beside Cain. "I'll make the rounds as soon as I've had something."
McCalhan saluted and walked away. Cain smiled at his son.
"You did a great job today. Your mother would've been very proud of you," he said softly.
Jeb colored slightly as he ducked his head in acknowledgement of his father's praise. The idea of getting him a big brimmed hat flashed through DG's mind. She smiled to herself.
It was decided that Jeb's people would secure the tower for the night while everyone around the table would try to get some rest.
"We will make plans tomorrow," Lavender stated as she rose from the table, "about how to notify the O.Z. of the demise of the witch and the restoration of the Throne. Come girls."
DG looked back at her friends as her parents led her away.
Wyatt Cain lay on his bed in the room given to him in the witch's tower. His mind had been going over his life since he first heard someone knocking on the outside of his iron suit. Had so much truly happened in just a few days? After years in stasis with only his eyes and mind active, being forced to watch that projection over and over, he was having trouble digesting all of the activity that had occurred between the suit and the eclipse yesterday.
He had slept for several hours from sheer exhaustion. But long before the two suns had started to rise, he had awakened. He lay staring at the ceiling as light pushed the shadows away. His mind replayed various scenes from the past week. He sighed. He had gone from feeling completely numb to such an onslaught of emotions that he couldn't sort through them all. He wondered if this was how Glitch's mind worked; if too many thoughts were what caused him to hang-up periodically.
Just as the first full rays of the suns flooded through his window, he heard a soft knock on his door.
The door opened and Jeb stepped inside the room. "I wasn't sure if you'd be awake yet," he stated.
Cain set up. "Yeah. For a while now. Too much going through my head, I guess."
Jeb nodded as he sat down on a chair in front of the small desk. The two men looked at each other.
They both chuckled and Cain waved his hand at his son.
"I'm still a bit shocked about you being alive after all this time," Jeb admitted. He hung his head. "And I still feel bad that I never …"
"No!" Cain's voice caused the younger man to look up into his father's eyes. "Don't you ever regret what took place. You thought I was dead. I was behind enemy lines. You had no way of knowing what had happened."
The younger man swallowed hard before he gave a quick nod of his head. Cain's eyes softened when he smiled at his son.
"Good. There's been way too much guilt and too many regrets. I've been laying here trying to decide how to start getting rid of some of them and moving on."
Cain reached for his pants and shirt as he rose from the bed.
"How about finding some food to start with?" Jeb suggested as he stood up.
"Sounds good. Then I need to find Raw and Glitch."
Jeb glanced sideways at his father. "And the princess?"
Cain's hands froze as he was buttoning his shirt. Jeb gave his father a pat on his shoulder.
"Speaking of moving on, I think there are a couple of things you and I need to talk about."
When they entered the mess hall, Cain could see DG sitting at a table in the front of the room with her family. He felt his heart constrict as he looked at her.
"Go on and sit with DG if you want to," Jeb said.
Cain shook his head. He saw Glitch and Raw sitting at the table with the royals but couldn't bring himself to go up there. He indicated a couple of empty seats with his head. Jeb nodded and they sat down. Suddenly, eating seemed to require a great deal of effort. After a while he noticed Jeb staring at him.
"Father, we need to talk."
Cain nodded. "Are you finished with first meal?"
"Yeah. Let's go for a walk."
The two men walked away from the tower, up the hill, into the line of trees. They finally sat down on a fallen log. They sat just staring back at the tower in silence. Jeb studied his father. Cain looked up and saw Jeb's scrutiny.
"What?" he asked.
Jeb looked down at his feet. He knew he had information he had to tell his father but he honestly didn't know how to begin. He took a deep breath, looked back at Cain and decided to avoid it for the time being.
"I was in the iron suit for about a week … maybe two … we figured," he started instead. "I was locked in there while they killed mother. Then they left that damn holographic loop for me to watch. When some members of the Resistance found me, I wondered for a while if I would ever be sane again." He took a deep sigh. "I swear I don't know why you aren't crazy."
Cain took a deep breath staring out at the tower for a long time. Jeb began to think his father would not answer. He had just opened his mouth to say something when he heard Cain speak very softly.
"Once you've been in the suit for a while … a year or two, I guess … something happens. You see things. You recognize the imagines. You kind of remember what you felt when it happened originally. But somehow, you aren't connected to it any more. You could almost be watching strangers. For me, I thought you and your mother were dead. Once the … agony … the horror … of what I'd seen all day, every day … I guess you could say I started to grieve. I actually began to look forward to the night. Without the sunlight, the projector didn't work. I began to like the nothingness."
He looked at Jeb. The young man had tears running down his cheeks.
"Why aren't you crazy?" Jeb whispered.
A sad smile played at the corners of Cain's mouth. "DG … I think."
Jeb nodded. He looked away as he wiped his cheeks. When he looked back at his father, he knew he had to tell Cain the rest.
"We went to that cabin because we were meeting someone in the resistance. We'd run across him several times in the previous two years." He looked at his father a long moment before adding softly, "He and Mother were going to get married."
"What happened to him?"
"He was there – dead – when we got there. Zero was waiting for us."
There was a long pause.
"Was he good to Adora?"
"Yeah. He was a good man."
A shorter pause.
"I'm glad. I hope she was happy for a while."
Jeb nodded but didn't speak.
They sat for a long time. They watched the activity below as the Northern Woods Guild sent out couriers. They knew from the one meeting held the previous night that the Guild was going to try to get as many resistance cells as they could reach to come to the tower as soon as possible. When they had enough people, the plan was to take back the royal palace in Central City.
"How long do you think this will last?" Jeb asked.
Cain shook his head. "I'm not sure. At least a few cycles. If we get a break, maybe it will all be over in less than an annual."
Jeb sighed. His lips twisted.
"What?" Cain asked.
"In the stories you and Mother always told me … they all just ended. There was never any talk about the clean up afterwards."
Cain chuckled. "You should talk to DG. I think she may have been thinking something like that yesterday, based on what I could see."
"When are you going to talk to her?"
"Why did you say you weren't crazy?" Jeb looked hard at Cain as he stood up. "Don't screw this up. You light up when you talk about her. Let her know."
Cain swore as he rose to his feet. "She's a kid! Don't be daft."
Jeb chuckled. "I thought you were a good Tin Man."
"What's that mean?"
Still chuckling, Jeb started back along the trail towards the tower. "Obviously you haven't noticed how she looks at you," he shot back over his shoulder.
Cain stood staring after Jeb for a long time. Eventually he followed Jeb back to the tower.
DG had seen Cain and Jeb enter the large chamber that had been set up to serve as a mess hall. She saw them look over to where she sat but then sit in the back of the room. She kept a smile on her face although suddenly she was no longer interested in breakfast … no, first meal. She signed. So many things she had to learn.
DG and the royal family left the mess hall with Glitch and Raw following. They all sat in a room that DG could only call a parlor, it was so formal. Yesterday they had been busy getting things under control after she and Azkadellia had managed to get rid of the witch. Now they just sat staring at each other. Then they all chuckled nervously.
"It seems so strange being together like this, after all this time," Queen Lavender stated. She smiled at her daughters. "We have much to do."
"Yes," Ahamo agreed. "We need to get information out to the people immediately."
Lavender nodded slowly. "We must try to locate any Ministers and official advisors that have survived."
"And Glitch. What about Glitch?" DG asked. "Can we put his brain back?"
Azkadellia looked uncomfortable. Lavender shook her head slowly.
"Raw can help," the viewer stated. "Can connect the two. Glitch can learn from Ambrose."
Glitch smiled. "That would be wonderful! That would be wonderful! That would be wonderful!"
DG tapped his forearm to stop his glitching.
"We must get the Palace Guards reorganized immediately." Ahamo continued. "I think Jeb Cain would be a good choice. He was very efficient yesterday."
Lavender nodded. "Then he shall become Commander of our Palace Guard for now."
"I've sent out messages to all of the Longcoat garrisons telling them they are to surrender to the resistance cells closest to their location," Azkadellia informed them.
The Queen nodded. "Yes, perhaps we can get the majority of them under control that way."
"You don't think they will all surrender?" Az questioned.
"I'm sure they won't," Ahamo stated.
"We will be fighting another guerrilla war," Lavender assured her, "only this time we are going to be the government and the former Longcoats will be the rebels."
They were all silent for a few moments. Then Ahamo stood up. He walked over to his daughters.
"I will get each of you body guards. We will not be able to stay shut away but I want each of you as safe as possible."
"I don't want some stranger," DG insisted. "I'll only have a body guard if it's Cain."
Ahamo raised his eyebrow. Lavender nodded her head. "Your father and I will discuss it. But there is a more immediate problem we must solve." She turned to Glitch. "I assume we have access to a T.D.E.S.P.H.T.L. We need to create projections that we can send all over the O.Z. That way we can let the people know that the witch is dead, that Azkadellia is free and that DG has returned home."
"Yes, of course," he looked puzzled. "But what are we going to record? What are we going to record? What are we going to record?"
Jeb and Cain stood inside the temporary Palace Guard office discussing strategy with McCalhan. A messenger snapped to attention as he approached the three men. He handed one envelope to Cain and an identical one to Jeb. The two men looked at the departing messenger before opening the envelopes.
"The Queen wants to see me," Jeb stated.
"I've got Ahamo," Cain told him.
They quickly finished their work and headed to answer their summonses.
"Mr. Cain, DG has told us how you helped her find the emerald so she could save the O.Z.," Ahamo started once he and Cain were seated in a comfortable office.
Cain gave a slight shrug. "Did she also tell you how she saved me? I owe her my life."
"No, she just mentioned that she met you along the way."
Cain quickly told Ahamo how DG had charged at the holographic projection thinking his family was in danger, how she had released him from the iron suit and how she had helped him realize that he could continue to live after everything that had happened.
Ahamo looked surprised. "I … I had no idea. I was extremely impressed with her when she went to get the emerald but …" He paused a moment then looked Cain straight in the eye. "You've been through a great deal. I don't know what you plan to do now. But DG needs a body guard. She says that you are the only man she will consider."
Cain cocked his head slightly, never breaking eye contact. The two men stared at each other intently.
"The Queen and I have decided that if you'd like to stay on at the palace, we would be pleased to offer you the post of DG's primary body guard. In fact, we'd like you to be in charge of security for the entire family."
Cain took a deep breath. "I am honored. However, I think it's only proper to tell you that DG and I have developed a deep friendship during our trek across the Zone. I don't want to presume … I don't even know what DG may … we haven't really …" He stopped, looking uncomfortable. At Ahamo's questioning glance Cain added, "If we stay together, I honestly don't know where our friendship may lead."
"The Queen and I have discussed that possibility. While we are concerned, we're also aware that DG was raised very differently than she would've been had she remained in the O.Z. You'd probably be shocked to know just how much freedom young women are allowed on the Otherside. I'm sure she's capable of making her own decision in this regard."
Cain looked uneasy. "I am so much older than she is," he muttered almost to himself.
"I don't think you can count the years you were in stasis," Ahamo stated softly.
Cain's head jerked up to look into the Consort's eyes again; embarrassed he had spoken out loud. Ahamo smiled softly.
"Do not misunderstand," Ahamo continued sternly, "we would not condone anything improper between you and our daughter. Having said that: we trust DG's judgment; we trust your integrity as a Tin Man. We believe you two will be able to work out whether this … appointment … will be to your advantages. I should tell you, as you and I talk, my wife is offering your son command of the Palace Guard. I believe the Queen is considering the rank of Colonel for you. Perhaps that will help you make your choice." He stood up and extended his hand. "Think about it."
Cain shook the proffered hand. "I'll let you know as soon as I've made a decision."
Jeb and Cain met in the hallway leading to the main entrance. Cain beamed.
"Commander of the Palace Guard!" He pulled Jeb into a hug. "I'm so proud of you."
"You think I should take it?"
"Of course. Don't you want it?"
"I'm just not sure if I can adjust to formal troops after being a rebel."
"I think you'd be wonderful at it. But you have to make the decision for yourself."
"What about you?"
Cain hesitated and then said rather quickly, "I've been offered the job of DG's body guard."
Jeb stopped walking. When Cain turned back to Jeb he saw his son staring at him open-mouthed.
"Do they … are you … should she … "
Jeb quit stammering and blushed.
"Do they know that they may need a body guard to keep the body guard in line?" Cain asked.
"Well … yeah."
Cain chuckled. "I think I was just told that'd be okay with the royal couple."
"No, shit!" Jeb exclaimed.
Cain cocked an eyebrow. "Language," he admonished, the corner of his mouth twitching. "Try not to get yourself court-martialed on your first day."
"So we're both staying with the royals?" Jeb questioned.
"I need to talk to DG first. But, yeah, I think I'm staying."