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Tin Man fic: Perceptible - Chapter 6/10

Title: Perceptible - 6 of 10
Author: Surreal
Rating: Overall NC-17, just to be safe.
Characters/Pairing: Raw/Jeb, Glitch/Cain, plus lots of other characters
Word count this chapter: ~2020
Disclaimer: The characters and settings belong to L. Frank Baum and the creative minds behind Tin Man. I do not claim to own anything.
Summary: Jeb Cain has found someone who sees him for who he is, for what he needs, for the first time in his life. He can’t quite believe that it’s that easy.
A/N: Entire story uses magic4mula 40-word prompt table, 4 prompts per chapter. This chapter: "plant…palm…horses…rampant." This story is everything that happens between the two drabbles “Unfamiliar” and “Spring Fever.”

Previously...




~~

Wyatt’s return trip from finding the restroom took longer than necessary, as he was constantly stopped by someone he was sure he would be related to in some way soon. Despite the overwhelming ambiance of the whole day, the knowledge that his son would have such a vast, welcoming family warmed him greatly, as none of them had been able to find out what had become of any other Cains.

Finally spotting the flickering light of the fireplace where he had left Glitch, who had taken over the long, strange couch, Wyatt wove his way through the last few clusters of Viewers.

And stopped dead in his tracks with a stupid grin on his face at what he saw.

Glitch had sprawled over most of the couch, one leg awkwardly bent under him while the other stretched out with only his foot hanging over the edge. His head was tilted back against one curved arm of the lounge, high enough so his zipper wasn’t pressed painfully into the back of his scalp. Eyes closed, mouth slightly open, he was obviously no longer awake. The remaining portion was occupied by a curled-up Jeb, whose his head was resting on Glitch’s outstretched leg and was clearly fast asleep along with Glitch.

Someone’s hand landed on Wyatt’s shoulder and he reluctantly looked away from the two sleeping men and found Raw next to him wearing his own affectionate smile. “Cute.”

Muffling his shocked laugh behind one hand, Wyatt shook his head. “Don’t tell them that.”

Raw chuckled and looked at Wyatt, pausing with a curious look on his face.

“What?” Cain asked him.

Reaching up to Cain’s face, Raw touched the spot that Glitch had marked with ash earlier. “Glitch?” His voice was rough with sentiment.

“Asked me to marry him,” Wyatt answered the unspoken question.

Raw’s smile grew soft and he lowered his hand to rest on Wyatt’s shoulder. He leaned forward until their foreheads touched. “Happy for you.”

Wyatt blamed the strong alcohol level for his emotions running rampant and making his chin tremble at the soft, simple, heartfelt words. He cleared his throat, lifting a hand to grip Raw’s arm tightly. “I’m happy for you and Jeb. You’re good for him. Good for each other.”

“Yeah,” Raw agreed.

~~

They were still a half hour’s ride north of Mill Town when the first echo of gunfire reached their ears. Pulling up short, Wyatt looked sharp as he put his gun in his hand, the heavy weight of it familiar against his palm. “Jeb, you’ve got your weapon?”

“Yes, sir,” Jeb answered, slipping his hand under where he had draped his coat behind him, finding his gun.

“Good. You and Glitch head into town,” Wyatt ordered abruptly. “Raw and I are taking the long way around, see if we can find out where that came from. We’ll be no more than an hour behind you.”

Jeb thought about arguing but he caught the manner his father glanced his way, then over to Glitch, and decided against it. Instead, he gave a curt nod and brought his horse over next to Glitch’s. “Let’s go.”

Glitch hesitated, casting a long stare at Wyatt. “Don’t be a hero, Tin Man.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Wyatt quirked a grin and tugged on the reins in his hand, changing direction. “Be safe.”

“You, too,” Glitch nodded thoughtfully. He gave Jeb a resigned look then jerked his chin. “Come on. Oh, and before I forget, DG’s parents...well, nurture units, they live in Mill Town. That’s who we’ll look for when we get there. Remind me. Or, you know, you can remember for me.”

“Right,” Jeb replied with a hidden smile, giving his horse a light nudge to lead them on their way.

Not even a full five minutes had passed before their horses suddenly stalled restlessly. They both felt and heard a low vibrating coming from below and before either could question the source, a massive explosion nearby sent them both to toppling ground as their horses threw them off in panic.

Glitch tumbled over and rolled with the fall, ending up on his back then turned over quickly when a shower of dirt and debris began to pour over him. Sheltering his head with his arms, he kept his eyes closed, burying his nose and mouth as best he could with his vest; his coat had been tucked behind him on the saddle.

When a complete, abrupt silence descended, Glitch raised his head and shook it to displace the forest rubble. He scanned the area and was disheartened to find their horses had been scared off. “Traitorous animals,” he grumbled as he sat up stiffly.

“Glitch?”

Twisting around at the almost inaudibly soft voice, Glitch remembered he wasn’t alone. He shoved himself to his feet quickly and took the few staggering steps over to where Jeb was lying. “Jeb, are you all right?”

Jeb looked up at him, one trembling hand brushing the dirt from his own face. “I’m not...sure,” he answered haltingly, grimacing when he shifted a little. “Something...hurts.”

Glitch knelt down and did a quick scan of Jeb’s form. “Okay, just stay calm. Where does it hurt?”

“Back,” Jeb grunted, then hissed when Glitch started to carefully look for damage. “Ow.”

“Just, give me a second,” Glitch winced sympathetically, rocking back to sit on his feet. “You need to...yes, can you roll to your left? Slowly, let me help,” Glitch guided him as gently as he could manage until Jeb was panting from exertion and pain. “That’s it, just...oh,” he stopped short, finally finding the problem.

“What?” Jeb looked back over his shoulder, eyes wide and skin too pale.

“There’s...you must have landed...Jeb, there’s a branch stuck in your lower back,” Glitch told him in a rush as he inspected the damage. “I can’t imagine how much this must hurt.”

Jeb groaned and spoke through clenched teeth “Glitch, can you pull it out?”

Glitch’s stomach turned at the prospect but he knew he had no choice. The limb was too thick to break with his hands and too much of it was sticking out to safely leave in until they could reach help. But not knowing how much was inside made Glitch hesitate.

“Glitch?”

“Just...I need a minute,” Glitch waved his hand near his head, eyes still on the bloody piece of wood. He drew a breath and strained to think of what his options were. “Okay, first thing. No, wait...second thing first. Bandages. To...stop the bleeding, because there’s going to be a lot of it when I pull this out.” He scratched his arm then looked at it. “Oh.”

Unbuttoning his white shirt quickly, he scrambled to get it off along with the vest. The vest went back on over the striped shirt he had on underneath and he rolled up the shirt, laying it across his lap.

“Jeb, listen, we’re going to have to move you a bit to make this work,” Glitch said, getting his hands in place at Jeb’s waist. “I need to slide my shirt under you really quick so it’s ready for me to tie around your waist. Got it?”

Jeb coughed, sending a little cloud of dust up next to his face. “Yeah,” he answered, dragging one elbow closer to help brace his body. “Just say the word.”

“All right, on three,” Glitch shuffled a little bit closer, grabbing one end of the shirt. “Three!” He pushed up Jeb’s midsection and pushed the shirt under, cringing at the strangled cry Jeb made. “Sorry, sorry.”

“You said on three,” Jeb shot back as he let himself sink back to the ground. “I...always assumed that meant you’d count to three.”

“Huh,” Glitch sat back thoughtfully then shook his head to refocus. “We’ll have to check on that. Anyway,” he said cheerfully, reaching down and wrapping his long fingers around the branch. “Let’s just take care of this first. Ready?”

“Don’t count this time,” Jeb buried his head against one crooked elbow and tensed. “Go.”

Glitch took a deep breath and checked the angle, then pulled, removing it smoothly.

Jeb’s scream was muffled by his arm and he curled up tighter as if he could escape from the agonizing burn tearing through his body.

“Almost done,” Glitch kept his voice low and calm, though inside he was shaking badly. He made quick work of his shirt bandage, tucking the thickest part of the material next to the bleeding wound and knotting the sleeves as tight as he could against Jeb’s stomach. “Breathe,” he reminded Jeb, rubbing circles on the tightly bunched muscles of Jeb’s back.

“Ugh.”

“That’s the spirit,” Glitch forced a smile and shifted so he could slip one arm under Jeb’s neck. “It’s not much further to town. Do you think you can walk?”

Jeb didn’t answer, letting Glitch help him into a sitting position. He looked light-headed but remained upright. “Not much choice.”

“I could carry you,” Glitch pointed out, wrapping an arm around Jeb’s back to support him while he stood. “That’s it, nice and slow. I’ve got you.”

“Thanks,” Jeb chose to ignore the offer and instead started to walk with Glitch taking most of his weight. Glitch studied him worriedly from the side when Jeb raised a trembling hand to swipe the sweat from his face.

~~

It was all Jeb could do to plant one foot in front of the other and Glitch could tell the young man was getting weaker. He could already feel the heat of fever after less than an hour and the hiss Jeb gave when Glitch’s arm brushed somewhere above the injury told him an infection had already started.

So, Glitch was ready when Jeb’s legs finally gave out and he collapsed.

Hauling the limp body across his arms and settling the weight against his chest, Glitch straightened his back and continued on as if nothing had changed. He kept talking to his unconscious companion, informing him that he was not much lighter than his father had been.

When the edge of the forest came into sight and beyond it the broken down structures that made up Mill Town could be seen, Glitch breathed a sigh of relief. He shifted Jeb slightly and lengthened his stride. He reached the first building and caught sight of movement. “Help,” he called. “I need some help, please!”

Figures moved into view, no one coming closer but suddenly a door flew open down the street, followed by familiar yells.

Glitch sagged gratefully when he spotted Wyatt and Raw, followed closely by DG’s pseudo-parents, flying down the battered dirt road to meet them. In a heartbeat, Raw had taken Jeb from him and together with Emily and Hank, hurried back to the house.

Finding himself enveloped in a crushing hug, Glitch sighed and clung to Wyatt briefly before they drew back long enough to share a kiss. “Glitch, you two scared the life out of us,” Wyatt told him in a flurry of words, hands fluttering over Glitch like butterflies. “When we got here no one had seen either of you and we were just getting together a search party...”

“Wyatt,” Glitch cut in, his voice not nearly as steady as he would have liked. “Where...Jeb?”

Wyatt turned, his hand on Glitch’s back almost possessive. “Raw took him inside with Em and Hank,” Wyatt said, propelling them along swiftly. “What happened?”

“He...” Glitch started to answer, his mind buzzing with words but none of them would come out. He blinked slowly, drifting to a stop short of the steps leading up to the house the others had gone in only moments before. “I think I need to throw up now.”

Glitch staggered to the bushes and doubled over, losing the little he had in his stomach.

When he was done, he stood and ran a badly shaking hand over his mouth, grimacing. “I’m okay.”

“You sure?” Wyatt asked fretfully. “Let’s at least head inside, see how Raw’s doing with Jeb. Get you some water.”

“Yeah, okay,” Glitch nodded vaguely, letting Wyatt direct him up the steps on unsteady legs.

~~

End Chapter 6

Continue to Chapter 7

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
andrealyn
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
Mmm but the hurt part hurts so good. I loved the little Cain and Raw scene and just the Glitch and Jeb interaction (and HA! to the three joke. So very HA) LOVE IT AS ALWAYS!
surranndie
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
*grins* Thanks so much for the love!!!
lionille
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
OOoooooh, poor guys! Glitch trying to collect his wits, and having to carry jr Cain and saying he's not much lighter than sr Cain, and oh!
The misunderstanding over the countdown... HAHA!! There's an instance where Cain Sr could have told Cain Jr a thing or two about Glitch's idiosyncracies! ^^
Another wonderful chapter!
surranndie
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
You know I couldn't let them get through a story intact! :D Don't worry, the comfort part is coming next. Poor Glitch, he needs a hug...or for someone to notice how deeply he's pushed himself into shock...*ponders and pokes the next chapter*

I could never let the opportunity for a counting joke pass by! \o/

Thank you!! *HUGS*
annehiro
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
D:
surranndie
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)
*hugs*
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )