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Tin Man Grand Prix fic #2: Thinker

Title: Thinker
Rating: PG
Summary: A distraction on the trip back from the Northern Island.



^^

I’m a thinker, not a hiker!

Cain could easily see that his travel companion was not joking when he made that statement, what must have been at least two days ago by how. He hated to drag them from the warmth and safety of DeMilo’s truck, but there was no choice. The axel was beyond repair and they had a princess to catch up to.

But every step from the Northern Island on the way to Azkadellia’s Tower was sheer agony, even for the Tin Man. Both men were exhausted beyond their limits, pushing their weary bodies to the brink of collapse.

If Cain felt like he was dragging his feet, he couldn’t imagine how Glitch must be feeling.

They had to keep going, despite the gradually slowing pace. Had to. There was no way of knowing what was happening to the young woman entrusted to their care. That they had lost.

The thought of it pushed Cain down the road, filled him with fury and fear and self-loathing. He had broken his promise to the Mystic Man; he had lost DG.

Ahead of him, Glitch stumbled to one knee and stayed there, unable to find the strength to stand. Cain reached down, offering a hand up but Glitch just shook his head, not finding breath enough to answer.

Cain knew he had to find something, some way to motivate Glitch to keep going. If the headcase...no, the Advisor, couldn’t stay focused on the task at hand, couldn’t remember what it was they were fighting to reach, then Cain knew he had to give Glitch another goal. A puzzle for the thinker, something attainable to keep his half-a-brain working while his feet went into automatic.

“Hey, Glitch,” Cain eyed the path in front of him. “9,482,755.”

Glitch looked up at him, his face a whirlpool of confusion and curiosity, eyes wide and mouth hanging open. “What?”

“That’s for you to figure out,” Cain told him, wrapping a strong hand around Glitch’s arm and pulling him to his tired feet. “You think about it while we’re walking.”

“I don’t understand,” Glitch shook his head with a deep, crooked frown even as he began walking again.

“I want you to figure out what that number means. 9,482,755,” the Tin Man recited the digits again.

Never one to pass up the opportunity to solve a riddle, Glitch was soon immersed in his own thoughts and for another dozen leagues down the road he was unusually silent. A few glitches here and there broke his concentration but whenever that happened, Cain just reminded him of that number. The one he was supposed to solve.

A few breaks to forage for food, some wild berries and a long drink from a cool stream put them back into a rhythm, their goal within sight.

Just outside the grounds surrounding the Tower, they crouched in a thicket of dense bushes and watched over the crest as dozens of soldiers and their equipment moved in seemingly random patterns around the dry, barren landscape.

Cain, concentrating on picking up some organization to the movement, was knocked from his contemplation by Glitch smacking his arm frantically. “Oh! OH! Cain, I’ve got it! That number – it’s, it’s something to do with the road, isn’t it?”

“Getting closer,” Cain nodded absently, attention drawn back to the crowds below.

“I knew it,” Glitch grinned proudly, scratching near the pull of his zipper to help him think. “Steps...spans...width, breadth...bricks! That’s it, isn’t it? It’s a number of bricks, measuring from one place to another?”

Stunned that Glitch had managed to figure that much of the puzzle out so far, Cain turned his attention to the Advisor. “You’ve almost got it,” he said admiringly. “But why that specific number? What might it mean to me?”

Glitch held his gaze steadily for a long moment, a frown slowly forming. “It’s a personal distance. Something you traveled frequently.”

“Yes.”

Looking away briefly, Glitch tugged at the frayed edges of his sleeve. “It’s the number of yellow stones along the brick route from your house to Central City.”

Cain cleared his throat and nodded, turning again to face the tall structure splitting the view of the sky in front of them. “You really are a thinker, Glitch, but look at where we are. We made it this far, now we’ve got a new problem to solve. How do we get in there?”

^^

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
lionille
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
I like that you show us here yet one more sacrifice that Glitch made for the cause. Also how Cain realizes that Glitch's situation might make him prone to losing motivation. And his solution to it. And not just any riddle, but a distinctly OZian one:
“It’s the number of yellow stones along the brick route from your house to Central City.”

surranndie
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks! :D Poor Glitch...good thing he's got a Cain looking out for him!
avari_maethor
Aug. 9th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
This one is my fave so far... given I've only read one other ^^;

But I loved it. I could so see Cain doing that. And it's so like him to count the bricks from his house to Central City.
surranndie
Aug. 9th, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
Hehee! Thanks muchly - I see you've found my crazy pile of stories already! :D
avari_maethor
Aug. 9th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
But of course!

I swear, if you ever take up writing fanfics for the movie "Labyrinth" you will prolly own 2/4 of my soul.
jeymien
Aug. 11th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Nice!
surranndie
Aug. 11th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )