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LAST ONE!! :D

Title: Take the Long Way Home
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: about 3,600
Summary: Cain is sent on a mission to keep Glitch out of the Palace for a few days. Simple enough, right?



**

When the Queen pulled Cain aside and asked him to take a walk with her, he was unaccountably nervous. While in the months he had been head of the Royal Guard had kept him at the Palace and in close quarters with not only the Queen herself and the rest of the family, he still could not get past his proper upbringing. More often than not he had to quell the internal struggle against the urge to kneel before the woman.

The light breeze tugged at the length of his jacket as they slowly ambled their way through the newly blossoming garden that wound its way around the side of the imposing building he now called home.

“Mr. Cain, I have a favor to ask of you,” she said, her voice carrying an oddly hesitant tone not befitting a woman of her station. “There is...a very special event approaching in the coming days and it would be best for everyone if Amb...that is, if Glitch were not present for the preparations.”

Cain frowned, letting the name slip-up go in favor of the vaguely insulted feeling creeping into his gut on behalf of his friend. “You’re worried he would mess things up?”

Lavender smiled warmly and gave a small shake of her head, the tightly bound curls not moving with the motion. “Not at all. It is difficult to explain, but suffice it to say his presence would hinder the most important element to the occasion. I cannot say more,” she said with a touch of melancholy, stopping their stroll and resting a hand lightly on his arm. “All that I ask of you is that you take Glitch on a short leave and return no earlier than the setting of the suns in two days time.”

His curiosity over the topic she was clearly avoiding was out-weighted by the nauseating impression that Glitch was being swept under the rug while the stuck-up society busybodies had the run of the Palace. If that was how they treated a man whom for all intents and purposes had sacrificed his life for them, Cain was glad to take his friend away from all of that for even a few short days.

Forcing a tight smile, Cain nodded briskly. “We’ll be packed and ready to go within the hour,” he told her.

The bright, relieved smile given to him in return did nothing to settle the uneasy feeling in his stomach.

**

“Where are we going?” Glitch asked again, watching as Cain bustled around his room and packed a bag for the former Advisor. “Oh, don’t take those, take the ones next to – yes, those, the brown ones.”

“Just taking a few days off to get out of the house...castle,” Cain answered for the third time, his patience with his forgetful friend surprisingly strong. “The Queen said something about...construction, that the dust would be hell on your allergies,” he improvised, tucking the last few bits of clothing into the small bag and quickly buckling the straps closed.

“Oh? You would think I would remember something like that. Though I suppose it’s not really interesting enough to stick in my half a brain,” Glitch shrugged and hopped to his feet, slipping into the clean, new jacket Cain handed him. “Always best to choose my battles rather than have them choose themselves, right?”

Cain swallowed thickly, not wanting to tell Glitch that choosing battles was exactly what he was doing for the unwitting headcase. “Right,” he said simply, handing Glitch the packed bag then picking up his own that he had readied before coming to Glitch’s room. “Come on, there’s a car waiting for us downstairs we can use.”

“Really?” Glitch grinned brightly, his steps bouncing as he walked. “Can I drive?”

“No.”

**

Several dust-filled hours on the road later, complete with a sneezing Glitch and Cain’s constant reminders to leave the window up so the dirt stays outside, they pulled up next to a cozy looking inn that lay on the outskirts of a small town. “Stay here, I’ll go see if they’ve got a vacancy,” Cain told him as he opened his door.

Glitch settled into his seat with a sigh and looked out the window at their surroundings. Most of these places inspired a flicker of recognition but not enough to know if he was truly remembering having visited this exact town at some point in his travels.

His absentminded thoughts were cut off by Cain returning and pulling open the back door. “They’ve got one room we can use, if one of us doesn’t mind sleeping on a cot they can pull in for us.”

“I don’t mind if you don’t,” Glitch picked up the hat he’d brought along and settled it firmly on his head, tugging his unruly hair into place and making sure to cover the front of the zipper. That accomplished to his satisfaction, he climbed out and walked around to the other side to retrieve his own pack. “Want to wrestle for it?”

Cain coughed roughly to cover the sudden rush of heat to his face at that image. It was one thing to quash the constant flashes of affection he had for Glitch; it was quite another to be put on the spot by what Glitch probably thought was innocent flirting. “No, that’s all right. I spent fifteen annuals sleeping on my feet, I think I can handle one night on a folding bed.”

“Your loss,” Glitch shrugged easily, shouldering his bag and leading the way inside.

Blowing out a long, tense breath, Cain locked up the car and followed behind.

Dinner proved to be quite the pleasant affair, especially after their kindly hostess gave Glitch a knowing smile and tapped the brim of his hat gently. “There’s no need for that around this house, honey,” she said, casting a glance toward the kitchen, where a man was bent over the sink washing dishes quietly. When he turned his head to set aside a large serving dish to dry, there was an unmistakable glint of metal.

Glitch wordlessly removed his hat before sitting down for the meal.

**

Wyatt was awakened in the middle of the night by a firm and insistent tugging on his leg and he looked down, half-expecting to find Glitch trying to get his attention. Instead, he saw a small, angry-looking dog with his pant leg clenched between its teeth and for a brief moment, Cain wondered if he was dreaming it.

“Is that...Cain, why is Tutor trying to eat your pants?” Glitch’s sleepy voice shattered his hopes that this was not really happening.

“It’s not Tutor, it’s probably just some pet of the owners,” Cain grumbled, jerking his leg up in an attempt to jar the animal loose.

Only to be stuck with his leg in the air and the determined dog dangling from the ripped fabric.

Glitch’s snickers were muffled by his pillow and Cain shot a glare at him, though it was too dark for the other man to see it. “Laugh it up, zipperhead. They probably forgot to mention which member of the family usually sleeps on this cot.” He reached down and grabbed the dog firmly, ignoring the frantic growls and managing to work himself loose. Leaving the blanket crumpled in the middle of the short bed, he stumbled in the dark over to the room’s only real bed. “Move over.”

“Hey! What makes you think I’m willing to share now?” Glitch protested even while he made room for his travel companion.

“Because if you want me to stay awake at the wheel tomorrow, you’re going to let me get a few good hours of sleep,” Cain pointed out, stealing the pillow and turning his back to Glitch.

“I could drive, you know.”

“No, you couldn’t.”

**

Glitch clutched the steaming mug of coffee in his hands like it was the only thing keeping him alive. His eyes were only half-open and his hair was even more disastrous than usual. Most of the buttons on his shirt were in the wrong holes and one of his socks was missing.

Cain suspected the dog had eaten it.

Despite all of that, Cain still thought Glitch was freakishly adorable.

Shoving the last bit of toast into his mouth, Cain stood and grabbed his hat from the seat of the empty chair next to him at the dining table. He gave a quick nod to their hostess and pushed in his own vacated chair. “Much obliged for the excellent food and company, ma’am.”

Waving him off, the older lady set about gathering their breakfast dishes. She wisely chose to let Glitch keep the cup until the end, lest she lose a finger in the ensuing struggle. “Think nothing of it, young man,” she told him modestly. “It was our pleasure to have you. You be safe, now. Take good care of your friend here, you can never be too cautious on these roads.”

“He’s always done a fine job taking care of me,” Cain smiled and was rewarded by Glitch blushing into the last of his coffee, clearly touched by the words. “Glitch, as soon as you’re done licking the bottom of the cup, I’ll be waiting in the car.”

**

“There’s a beautiful lake very close to here, I’m sure of it,” Glitch was practically bouncing in his seat; head half out the window and hair blowing wildly in the passing wind.

“You looking to go for a swim?” Cain asked, focusing on the road ahead to keep his mind from providing the unhelpful visuals of Glitch and water and skin.

Glitch grinned at him, the breeze sweeping long curls over his eyes. “It’s our vacation; we should get as many things in as we can before we have to go back. We could find a lovely sandy beach. A lovely sandy beach. A lov-“

“Glitch,” Cain reached over and thumped the other man’s leg.

“Thanks,” Glitch rubbed his temple ruefully and sat down in his seat, letting his head rest against the back, always mindful of the zipper pull. “You know, I think I’ve always enjoyed swimming. I must have spent quite a bit of time with the family in Finaqua. Can you just imagine me with those two little girls out in the lake?”

“I can’t imagine you getting a day of sun in your life,” Wyatt shot back with a smirk. “You haven’t really convinced me of being the outdoor type.”

Glitch snickered and rolled his head to the side to look at the driver. “I’ll have you know I survived living off of the land for a great many annuals.”

“True enough,” Cain conceded with a thoughtful nod. He searched the vast expanse of land stretched out before them until he spotted the unmistakable bright flash of sunlight reflecting off of a large body of water. At the next fork in the road he turned the car in the direction of the lake. “Hope you brought a towel.”

**

The mid-afternoon sun burned down on the car, heating it considerably. Which was a very good thing, as Glitch was huddled shivering in the passenger seat in a blanket and soaking wet underpants, glaring at the man driving. “You didn’t have to pull my arm out of its socket, you know. I would have left willingly given the proper warning.”

Cain shifted uncomfortably, his own clothes damp from hastily throwing them on when he first spotted the bear approaching the lakeshore they had been using. “If I’d started yelling at you to get out of the water, I’m pretty sure our friend would have noticed.”

Glitch hrmphed and pulled the blanket tighter. “You could have at least let me get dressed.”

“I picked up your clothes, you can put them back on when you’re dried off,” Cain assured him. “At least you won’t get a rash from sitting around in wet clothes like me.”

“Cain?”

“Yes, Glitch?”

“Why am I naked and wet?”

Cain sighed and gripped the wheel harder.

**

That night they slept in the car.

Since the front seats were still slightly damp from their earlier dash from the lake and there was more room in the back, they silently agreed to share the larger space.

Wyatt was sitting up on the back driver’s side, knees pressed up against the seat in front of him and head leaning back comfortably. To his secret delight, Glitch had chosen to sprawl over the rest of the long seat, resting his head on Cain’s lap as he looked up through the window at the night sky.

Letting his arm drape over Glitch’s torso for lack of another place to put it, Cain let the soft drone of his companion’s voice drifted over him.

“That one is the Mage’s Journey,” Glitch was saying, one arm coming up to point in the vague direction of the stars. “The story goes that an ancient magician became locked in an evil spell that keeps him wandering through the realms on an endless quest for his lost love.”

Cain patted Glitch’s chest lightly. “How is it you remember so much about the constellations yet your sense of direction...well, you don’t really have one.”

“Just another of those things that got stuck in the part of my brain they left,” Glitch shrugged against Cain’s hip. “The path of the stars means nothing, but the stories behind them are still there.”

“Hmm,” Cain replied noncommittally. He fell asleep to the sound of Glitch’s voice.

Sometime in the middle of the night he came awake, finding his leg asleep under the heavy weight of a mostly-empty head and a damp patch where Glitch was drooling, having turned onto his side at some point. Cain sighed, giving in to the impulse to tenderly stroke the surprisingly soft hair under his hand. Resting his hand on Glitch’s shoulder, he drifted back to sleep with the warm, rhythmic breaths against his leg.

**

Leaning his hip against the hood of the car, Cain studied the map by the late afternoon light the next day. “Are you sure that compass is working right? We should have seen the city as soon as we crossed over the foothills.”

“I’m going to go ask for directions,” Glitch informed him, wandering off toward a small, secluded cabin they had just passed before pulling over.

Cain never heard him, focused on the crinkled papers in his hand.

It was when something flew by his ear and landed with a solid thud in the soft dirt in front of him that he realized things were not right.

Raising his head and opening his mouth, it dawned on him that he was alone. “Crap,” he murmured, shoving the map through the open window. “Glitch!

“Get in! Get in get in get in the car NOW!” Glitch got louder as he got closer, running at full speed down around the curve in the road and followed by a torrent of flaming arrows close on his heels.

Cain, being a smart man, did as he was told and jerked his head around in time to see Glitch crawl in through the window on the other side, feet still dangling outside even as he screamed in Cain’s ear to drive like you’ve never driven before!

The sound of shattering glass and the unmistakable smell of burning upholstery was enough to get Cain’s foot pressed down hard on the accelerator.

“What in the hell did you do?” Wyatt yelled back. “Didn’t I tell you not to wander off?”

“No, you didn’t, or if you did I don’t remember it!” Glitch shot back, still struggling to pull himself the rest of the way into the fast moving vehicle. “I was just going to ask for directions to Central but apparently the owner of the house wasn’t in the mood for company.”

“So he started shooting flaming arrows at you?!?”

Glitch flashed him a sheepish grin then whirled around to look behind them, eyes going impossibly wide. “Um – how much further do you think it is?”

“Well, while you were off causing trouble I did some calculations and figured out we just needed to go up over the next hill and we’ll see the backside of the Palace,” Cain glared at the other man.

“Oh,” Glitch replied faintly. “So, not really a long walk, then?”

“Walk? What – “ Cain twisted around and noticed that the back half of their car was pouring smoke out the broken back window. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?

“I wanted us to get out of firing range?” Glitch answered glibly.

The car shuddered violently and Cain slammed his foot down on the brake when they got to the top of the hill. “Jump,” he ordered sharply, pushing his own door open and pausing long enough to make sure Glitch was running ahead before following after him.

The massive pulse of the car’s explosion pushed them forward and Cain threw himself on top of his friend, covering Glitch’s head protectively with his arms and doing his best to shield the other man’s body from falling debris.

When the world around them stopped shaking and the last few pieces of their trusty automobile had fallen, Cain finally raised himself up just enough to push awkwardly at Glitch, rolling him over. He quickly ran his hands over Glitch’s body, searching for injuries. Finding only a jacket full of burnt holes and a few tendrils of slightly singed hair, he brought his eyes back up to see Glitch watching him silently.

Taking Glitch’s face in both of his hands, he pressed a firm kiss to his friend’s lips, shocking them both.

Glitch stared up at him, dazed, when Wyatt pulled back. “What was that for?”

“Because one of these days you’re going to get us both killed and I don’t want to regret never having told you that I love you.”

Oh,,” Glitch breathed, a delighted smile slowly forming on his lips. “That’s good, because I thought I wasn’t making myself clear enough.”

Cain gave him another peck on the lips before climbing to his feet and offering Glitch a hand up. “Hey, Glitch?”

“Yeah, Wyatt?”

“You can drive now.”

Glitch doubled over laughing with Cain’s hand resting comfortably on his back.

**

They scaled the steps with as much dignity they could salvage. Cain had a suspicion that his own coat was still smoking.

When they reached the top of the massive staircase, just as the last glimmer of the setting suns was disappearing over the horizon, the doors were opened and they were greeted with a thunderous roar of “Happy birthday, Glitch!

Frozen in the doorway, both men stared in shock at the large crowd gathered in the main foyer of the Palace, a massive, glittering banner hanging from the balustrade that proclaimed that Glitch was indeed celebrating the anniversary of his birth that very day.

Everything came rushing in and clicking into place all at once for Cain, everything the Queen had said about them needing Glitch out of the place while they decorated for a very special occasion. It was not that they wanted Glitch out of the way, it was that they wanted to surprise him.

Cain turned his head slowly to stare at the other man, who was as white as fresh snow. “Glitch?”

The advisor visibly swallowed and slowly, so slowly, spun to face him and slid his arms around Cain’s neck, burying his face. Cain embraced him in return, confused but ready to provide anything Glitch needed at that moment.

Looking up to see the Queen, DG, Azkadellia, Raw...everyone looking at them in various forms of concern and bewilderment, Cain just shrugged and held on. He felt Glitch start to shake and he was worried that this was the last straw, the final thing that would at last throw Glitch over the edge.

“Glitch? It’s okay,” Wyatt said softly, stroking his hands over Glitch’s back. The trembling didn’t ease, if anything it got worse until Cain finally realized that Glitch wasn’t crying, as he had thought, but laughing. Hysterically.

Cain snorted, understanding what Glitch must have found so very amusing. They must have looked like they had been through a war zone and here they were, arriving right on time for Glitch’s surprise birthday party.

The two men stood there, laughing brokenly together for a long moment while the party hosts hurried to distract from the obvious raving lunatic that was their guest of honor.

After giving them a few minutes to collect themselves, DG came up with a grin. “All right, you clearly have quite the story to tell, but first – cake!”

“Oh, cake!” Glitch pulled himself from Cain hastily but kept a firm grip on one of his hands, dragging Wyatt along toward the large table set up on the far end of the room.

Glitch stopped short and stared at the gorgeously decorated pastry. A few dozen candles that he didn’t dare count flickered at him, mesmerizing in their splendor. He looked up to see the Queen and her daughters watching him expectantly. “It’s...beautiful,” he said with wonder.

“Go ahead, make a wish and blow out your candles,” DG nudged him.

“You know, I think I’ve had enough flaming sticks for one day,” Glitch snickered and pressed his body back against Cain, standing very close behind him. “Be a doll and blow them out for me, Deeg. I already got the one thing I would wish for,” he tilted his head back and almost as if reading his mind, Cain leaned down and kissed him lovingly, right there in front of everyone.

Glitch couldn’t have asked for a better forgotten birthday.

**

End

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
lionille
Aug. 5th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
MWAH! Your description of Glitch running for his life in front of flaming arrows while exhorting Cain to get the car going was PRICELESS!

Cain fighting the dog for the cot!

Cain’s constant reminders to leave the window up so the dirt stays outside
rofl!

Glitch before coffee - oh, my! Cain better be sure to never run out of the magic beans.

The bear! Even the wildlife ships Glitch/Cain. ;)

surranndie
Aug. 5th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
Hehehe!! Well, the category for this one was "comedy" so I'm glad it filled the bill! :D A road trip with Glitch isn't complete unless there are flaming arrows! Bwahahha!!!
aisarete
Aug. 7th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC)
That was just so cute! The ending- so sweet, I nearly cried. And I love it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GLITCH!!!
surranndie
Aug. 7th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
Eeee! *hugs!* Thanks! :D
avari_maethor
Aug. 9th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
What a perfect ending for the Grand Prix fics. I giggled through the majority of this.
surranndie
Aug. 9th, 2008 04:55 am (UTC)
*tackles and hugs tight* That's good to hear, considering the challenge category for this last one was "comedy!" :D

Feels like I've been chasing you down the line as you've read these! *lol* Thanks for reading all of these! Have fun catching up on everything else, too! You've got a busy weekend ahead of you!
avari_maethor
Aug. 9th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC)
I've noticed! I'm reading your drabbles now. I hope to finish them tonight, I'm not tired XD
surranndie
Aug. 9th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)
*GRINS!*

~whispers: there were also two more fics, one was totally Lionille's fault, posted last weekend - Prodigy and A. Rob Ems' Mechanical Toys~

I'M SUCH A WHORE!!!! :D
avari_maethor
Aug. 9th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
Now those I will prolly do tomorrow. I still have to read Part 4 of "Lost and Found".
jeymien
Aug. 11th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Romance, humor, drama, action! I loved it! Thank you again!
surranndie
Aug. 11th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
*bows gracefully* You're too kind! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! I look forward to seeing you around our awesome little fandom! :D
jeymien
Aug. 11th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
I'm a comment monster today! :) Feedback makes more for me to read. So feed the bunnies.
ciara__mist
Jan. 30th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
this is great! Going to keep me amused for the rest of the day. I had to stop reading after the car exploded and waited for my roomie to get out of the shower so I could tell her about it. lol "Glitch, you can drive now" HAHAHA awesome! Fighting for the cot was adorable, and them cracking up at the surprise party was hilarious! And a wonderfully adorable ending to a fantastic fic!

Also reminds me, I need coffee...lol
surranndie
Jan. 30th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Hehheheh!! Thank you so much! This was an especially fun one to write, as it was the last story in a 10-week challenge - so it got a little crazy! :D I'm so glad you liked it! *ROFL* - I *LOVE* that you had to tell your roommie about that scene!!! *GRIN!!*

broadwaybabyjo
May. 13th, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
And here I was worried they were getting rid of the other half of Glitch's brain. lol Loved it!

One little note:

conceited -- stuck on one's self

conceded -- acknowledged truth

;)
surranndie
May. 13th, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
Hehehe! Thanks!

*facepalm* Thanks for that - I have a tendency to write fic directly into an LJ entry and don't bother to edit in my rush to get the story down. I'll fix that!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )