Title: Such a Beautiful Mask

Author: Kathea

Rating: PG

Pairing: AZ/Jeb; Cain/DG

Disclaimer: I've yet to figure out a way to own any of this.

AN: I've got a general idea of where this is going but no idea of when we'll get there. Enjoy the ride.

AN: Wow, I'm delinquent aren't I? The story kind of abandoned me for a while after that cliffhanger. I know I left people thinking WTH. Sorry about that. I had great plans to get writing done during a trip but that just didn't happen. Instead I'm writing this in the hospital as my mom is recovering from a stroke. If you look back, you'll see that about a year ago I was writing just about the same thing.

Summary: And one day all that would be left was a shell of a woman and a beautiful mask.

Chapter 17

DG was on her feet and out the door before Wyatt could comprehend what had happened. Barefeet slapped against cold marble as DG hurtled towards her mother's suite of rooms. She would never be sure if it was her magic the opened the doors before her but they parted before her face impacted the sturdy oak.

"Moth…" DG shouted as she careened through another doorway. She stopped short at the sight of her mother disheveled in the arms of her father. Ahamo's sharp glare halted her progress. Sinking to her nees as her mother's side, she looked at her mother's distraught face. DG felt a soft hand smooth over her tangled hair in short strokes, "Mother." DG began again in an almost whisper. "Did you feel that?"

"Yes, my dear one, I did." Lavender's soft voice was laced with fear.

"It was the witch, wasn't it? She wasn't really gone?" DG's voiced wavered as she vocalized the source of her panic.

Ahamo spoke quickly. "No. It wasn't the witch. She is well and truly vanquished. That wave of power was generated from Azkadelia."

"What?" DG asked confused.

"The possession changed your sister, fundamentally. Something must have reminded her of her years spent as the vessel of the witch and she went back to that dark place."

"I knew a man like that." Wyatt said quietly from the door. DG rose from her knees and hurried to Wyatt, tucking herself into his embrace. That his arms wrapped around her quickly and in front of her parents was doubly reassuring. "Some men, for some reason, didn't handle some parts of being a Tin Man well. Something traumatic would happen and then in the future all it was take would be a sound or even a smell and they were back to that moment. Some got quiet, some were violent but the worst just weren't themselves anymore." Ahamo nodded in agreement.

"Right, no I've heard of that. PTSD." At the blank looks, she continued. "Post-traumatic stress disorder." She shrugged. "I heard about it on the news, back before." She paused again. "So, we do we do? I don't know anything about fixing this."

"I don't know." The Queen mumbled. "But we must ensure that Jeb is well. That wave of power rocked us despite the distance." Wyatt stiffened with concern for his son.

"I'll go prepare horses." Wyatt began and started to pull away.

"No. There is a faster way." Lavender replied, her voice firming with purpose.

"A travel storm?" DG asked

"No, that is not our only method of travel. There is another way that is less destructive."

"Tell me." DG urged moving back to kneel at her mother's feet. She gripped her mother's hands tightly, squeezing for her to continue.

"It is in essence very simple. Focus on the flare of light that is your sister and draw yourself to her." At DG's blank face, the Queen chuckled. "You will know your sister when you reach out for the light. She won't be able to hide from you now. My dear, why do you think Azkadelia always won when you played hide and seek. You were never very good at hiding your light."

"And I can pull this off?" DG replied doubtfully.

"If you believe strongly enough." Lavender replied giving her daughter's hands encouraging pressure.

"Come on Princess", Wyatt called from the door. "We can't go anywhere dressed like this."

"You will be fine, my child. Just believe in the light, your light. It will not fail you." Lavender said as DG kissed her mother's cheek and then hurriedly hugged her father. She reached for Wyatt's hand and made for her rooms quickly.

~~!~~

DG was slipping on her scuffed tennis shoes as Wyatt buckled on his gun belt. Her hands shook as she tied the laces for a third time. Standing up with a sigh, she looked to Wyatt.

"I'm stalling." DG murmured. She broke eye contact as his warm, familiar arms circled around her.

"How come?" Wyatt's voice rumbled above her head.

"Scared, I guess. What if I don't do it right?"

"Darlin?" Wyatt said forcing her to look up at him. His lips slanted over hers, moving slowly. The heat between them building only to a simmer. Desire was banked in favor of tenderness. When he pulled away, DG caught his gaze again. "Darlin', I love you. And there isn't anything you can't do. You'll believe enough for this to work. And if you can't, I will." DG rose up on her toes to seal her lips to his again.

When DG stepped back, he recognized that determined look on her face. He'd seen it before when she charged in on a holographic fight and countless other times on their race to save the OZ. She reached for his hands, lacing her fingers tight with his and shut her eyes. Not knowing what else to do, Wyatt closed his eyes as well and prayed to whoever was listening that he would end up with his son.

DG slowed her breathing like Tutor had instructed. That process was becoming easier and easier. Finding that calm place inside where the Light dwelt was almost instantaneous now. Like before she reached out toward the ocean, where she knew her sister to be. It was faint but there, pulsing slowly in the dark was the glimmer of her sister. Mentally wrapping herself around the presence of Wyatt, DG threw herself headlong towards the sparkle of light by the sea. The wind….space….time flew hard against her face until suddenly the light that was so far away was beneath her. All she had to do was reach out and grab it. Surely it wasn't that simple? Opening her eyes, DG gasped in surprise as she stood in the yard of a small cottage by the sea. Tugging on Wyatt's hand, she watch him crack open his eyes to see the sight.

"I did it!" DG said in breathless awe. Reaching up, DG kissed him hard, her emotions tumbling over in pride and relief. The wind still whipped from the passing storm and DG huddled into her jacket. The little cottage was dark and far too quiet. Stepping back, DG let Wyatt move first towards the wooden door. It opened smoothly under his hand and then they stepped from the damp air into the dark kitchen.

The small space was empty and DG moved unerringly towards the back bedroom. The door was shut and she hesitated before reaching for the knob. It turned but the door did not budge from the frame. She leaned a shoulder against it but it still was stuck. Wyatt nudged her out of the way and pushed hard until the old door popped loose from the frame.

It was shock that stopped them there at the edge of the room. Just an instant of disbelief that what their eyes said had happened really did. Then the tableau broke and Wyatt moved to scoop his son into his arms. DG raced across the bed to her sister curled into a ball.

"Jeb? Jeb?" Wyatt urged, a knowledgeable hand feeling the shallow breathing of his son. There were no marks on his skin but the wall behind him was darkened from the blast and plaster was cracked on the floor showing his impact. "Jeb!" Wyatt called again with more force, shaking him gently. It seemed forever before his eyes opened and he squinted in the dim light.

"Dad?" His voice was faint and confused but Wyatt pulled his son in close to his chest, sighing in relief. "Dad." He said again after a few minutes, his voice gaining strength. "I'm okay. I think." Sitting up he leaned against his father's comforting strength, momentarily that small boy again. "Az? Is she okay?" He asked pushing further upright to see the occupant of the bed.

The both watched as DG reached out a tentative hand toward her sister's curled figure. The pressure of her hand on Azkadelia's shoulder produced no response. Bowing her head, DG focused inward on her light, no knowing why but only that it was the only way to reach out to her sister.

**Az? Az! Wake up**

The pulse of Light that was her sister glowed faintly.

**Azkaelia!**

And the Light glittered brightly once and then once again. Then ever so faintly she felt her sister respond.

**DG? Whatareyou**

**You need to wake up!**

DG pulled back away from the light until she could see her sister with physical eyes. She reached again for her sister with her hand. The flesh beneath it still cold to the touch. "Az." She called again aloud, shaking her sister's shoulder. She didn't move for a moment but then moaned as her body unconsciously uncurled.

Opening her eyes, Azkadalia could only see Jeb propped against his father on the far side of the room, his face pale. "What happened?" Azkadelia asked, rising up on one elbow. "Where am I?"

TBC

AN: Okay, so yes. Az is exhibiting some signs of PTSD. Bonus points to those who assumed that. We'll keep moving forward as quickly as possible. Thanks for the continued reading and reviewing. I'm much happier with this chapter than some of the previous ones. Although the next chapter is bubbling away in my head and I'm really excited for it.