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Title: Wallpaper of Broadway
Characters/Pairings: Glitch/Cain, everyone else in the series.
Rating: R for implied adult situations
Summary: What if Cain, DG, and Raw had first encountered Glitch working as a bartender in the Mystic Man's club? This story is an AU that parallels the series using this scenario.
Notes: This could not have been completed without the awesome beta work by kseda. Whenever I shouted “LINE!” – she came through and I love her endlessly for it!


Chapter 6 – Finaqua


When Cain’s feet touched the ground on the other side of the crack that cut a swath across the O.Z., the first thing he did was drop the dog. He still found the thought of this shapeshifting man disconcerting.

Glitch was rubbing his nose as they started off again. Falling into step with him once again, Cain gave him a curious look. “You allergic to something?”

“No,” Glitch glanced at him with an embarrassed smile. “I smacked face-first into the tree at the end of the line.”

“Ouch,” Cain winced in sympathy. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Glitch said as he dropped his hand, automatically taking Cain’s hand in his own and squeezing it once. It was an unconscious gesture of reassurance, but Cain hadn’t expected it. He looked down at their hands and back up to Glitch’s face.

Glitch seemed as startled by what he’d done as Cain was and he let go quickly. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Cain said quietly. Because it was. And that scared him.

Glitch seemed to pick up on something in his voice and met his gaze, studying him. He must have seen something he hadn’t anticipated because his eyes went wide and he turned away, swallowing hard. “Cain – “

“We’re not talking about this, Glitch,” Cain stopped him before they got themselves any deeper into trouble. “Not now. Maybe not ever.”

At first Glitch looked like he was going to argue but he suddenly stopped, his head dropping down and his hand searching out the chains once again. “I understand.”

“No, you don’t,” Cain snarled, half to himself. “Hell, I don’t understand it, not even a little bit. But please – don’t think that it’s you that’s the problem. Got that? It’s not. I’m just...confused and...”

“Cain,” Glitch cut him off before he could make a complete fool of himself. “Just let it go, all right?”

Cain rubbed his face with one hand. “We’ll see.”

They fell into silence again, both of them now feeling awkward and exposed.

As they crested the next hill, Cain saw something in the distance and his heart leapt into his throat, choking him. “That’s the tree,” he said, disbelief coloring his tone. He took off in a full-out run, his jacket flapping. “Adora!

The rest of the group watched him go, a mixture of hope and anticipation on their faces. But Glitch was torn, completely and utterly, in light of what he had seen in Cain’s eyes when Cain had looked at him. Maybe it was that Cain had been secluded for so long and the rarity of human touch had thrown him for a loop, making him think he felt something he really didn’t.

Or maybe there was something there. After what they had shared, the closeness of their last few days bringing something new and terrifying to the surface and Cain was scared to death of what it meant. Because Cain had to know, had to by now, that Glitch was not a whore – not anymore, at least. Glitch didn’t reach out and touch just anyone; only Cain.

“We don’t have time for this,” Tutor grumbled, disrupting Glitch’s inner turmoil.

“He’s always made time for us,” DG pointed out as she, too, jogged toward the white elm.

Glitch forced a smile and followed them, though he had no real desire to find out what lay at the end of this particular path.

But when they reached the broken down cabin and made their way around the back, what they saw stopped them in their tracks. Cain was kneeling in front of a worn, weathered grave marker. His fingers traced over the front.

Glitch watched him, deeply distressed for the grieving man, as Cain pulled something from his pocket and set it on the ground in front of the wooden plank. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to the marker, then stood, eyes still locked to the small grave at his feet.

Uncertain of his welcome, Glitch nevertheless made his way over to stand at Cain’s side, taking in the silver Tin Man’s badge and the name on the grave. He was a cop, Glitch thought, somehow not surprised by this new knowledge. And his wife... Glitch looked up and glanced around, finally spotting the tall, rusted tin suit standing crookedly nearly, watching them. “You said you had a son...” Glitch spoke softly, touching Cain’s arm gently before approaching the suit.

Cain came up behind him and reached out to pull the unlatched door open. He sighed in relief to find it empty and Glitch found himself slumping in sympathy. “He’s not here,” Cain said needlessly, though maybe he simply had to say the words out loud. “Come on. There’s nothing more we can do here.”

With that, Cain led the way out of the cabin’s yard, his footsteps somehow falling heavier in the mud than before. Glitch matched his step but stayed behind him, giving the heartbroken man some semblance of privacy to grieve.

They stopped at the rocky bank of the river sometime later that afternoon, taking the opportunity to drink to cool water and wash some of the mud from their faces and hands.

Glitch kept his distance, letting Raw be the one to approach Cain. Instead, Glitch took off his jacket and went to work on cleaning his arms in the river.

~~

Cain picked at the leaves on a bush, the sounds of his travel companions splashing in the river muffled slightly by the short distance he kept himself from them. He heard the unmistakable sound of someone approaching but didn’t bother to look up.

A hand, now familiar and not the one he craved, landed on his shoulder and a low voice spoke from behind. “Your son, Jeb, lives. He lives to honor you. I feel it.”

It was too much, too soon and Cain stood abruptly, pulling out of arm’s reach. “You feel too much,” he growled. He knew it was harsh, that Raw couldn’t help but try to give him some kind of hope. But there was too much going on in his mind right now – his wife was dead, his son was missing and Glitch...Glitch was there. Alive and warm and so very much a part of Cain’s life already. And that was almost more than he could handle at the moment.

~~

No one felt much like talking as they trudged through the woods. Glitch rubbed at his stomach ruefully, thinking longingly of the bright red apples that used to grow on the occasional tree in these woods. Then he recalled the one he found before they reached the kind family’s cabin, the rotten remains of once abundant fruit. He wrinkled his nose in memory.

Lost in thought, he nearly ran into Raw’s back when the others stopped. Glitch looked up, taking in the fork in the road. “Which way now?”

DG turned one way, then the other, thinking out loud. As she started down one path, Glitch followed automatically, still distractedly searching the woods for hints of something edible.

“Glitch!” Raw’s voice behind him made him turn and he realized he was alone, the others moving off in the other direction.

With a smile, he jogged after Raw’s retreating form but something on the ground caught his eye. “What’s that?” He knelt down, recognizing the round, flat blue-green disk. It was just like the ones he had clipped to his chains – perhaps one of his had fallen out unnoticed.

As he reached to retrieve it, there was a terrible and familiar screech and he shot to his feet, horrified to see one of the Witch’s mobats coming directly for him. He was frozen in fear, flashing back to the feel of their claws and teeth and hands all over him, pulling at his hair and his chains.

There was a loud shot, then another and suddenly the nightmarish creature was gone. Glitch released the breath he had been holding, his heart racing.

“Glitch, are you all right?” Cain came running up beside him, touching his arms and his face in a panic.

Glitch nodded, wrapping his hands around Cain’s arms to still them. “I’m fine,” he assured Cain, extremely touched at the real concern he saw in Cain’s face. “Little beastie came out of nowhere!”

“And once Azkadellia realized this one’s dead, she’ll come looking for it and us,” Tutor pointed out.

Cain glared at the man but conceded the truth to his words. Keeping one hand on Glitch, telling himself it was to keep the wandering headcase close by, Cain jerked his head sharply. “Let’s get out of here.”

The shining disk forgotten, Glitch let Cain lead him down the road. It wasn’t much and they hadn’t talked since they left the abandoned cabin, but it was something.

~~

It was all Cain could to do keep up with Glitch as they wove their way through the hedge maze after DG had taken off into it. Cain was still trying to wrap his brain around the fact that Glitch was navigating the bewildering twists and turns so effortlessly, as if he had done this a thousand times before.

Then Cain remembered Glitch’s former position and it occurred to him that Glitch probably had walked these same paths before, in the pursuit of young, laughing girls. It was a humbling thought, to consider all Glitch had lost.

Emerging on the other side, they all stopped together as they spotted DG sitting on a wide, flat board suspended from thick ropes tied to the high branches of a massive tree. She swung listlessly, the very picture of disappointment.

“You were right about one thing,” Glitch spoke quietly, reverently. “Finaqua means ‘magical waters’ in the Ancient’s language.”

“This whole region was one of the first places Azkadellia destroyed,” Cain told her.

But DG had stopped listening, her eyes closed and her head tilted in concentration. Suddenly she jumped down, lost in memory and following an invisible trail that only she could see. The guys followed her, Cain shouting for her to slow down. They all clumsily hopped over fallen logs and staggered between the moss-covered trees trying to keep up.

When the found her, she was standing at the mouth of a cave, guarded by the picture of a mobat permanently carved into the stone.

Tutor tried to stall them but Cain couldn’t let her go in alone, not for long. They all went in after Cain led the way, where they found her studying the disturbing remains of a deeper part of the cave. She looked so lost, her face filled with despair as she was flooded with memories, of what had happened within these walls when she was only a child.

Finally, she looked back at them with tears streaming down her face. “It’s all my fault,” she sobbed. “Azkadellia didn’t want me to go and I did anyway. The Witch was here, she was trapped right in this cave and I was so scared. Az told me not to let go. I should have listened. Everything that’s happened – it’s my fault.”

It was Glitch who moved forward first, offering silent comfort as he wrapped the distraught girl into his long arms. But no one offered words – no one could. Because she was right. It may have been the unintended actions of a five annual old girl, but DG had been to blame for delivering the kingdom into the hands of evil.

Cain had lost his family; Raw had lost his as well. Glitch had lost so much – his brain, his dignity, his life. There was nothing any of them could say without exposing their own inner resentment. So they let DG cry, let Glitch hold her, and didn’t say a word.

~~

DG walked around the forest for a few moments in an aimless wander then dropped down and started to dig in a random pile of rocks. She surfaced with a flat heart-shaped stone and stood, ignoring the stares of those around her.

Cain watched as she threw it and rather than stirring up the dead leaves as he expected, the stone skipped along the ground as if on the surface of a lake. All around them, the forest seemed to simply drop through the ground and disappear. A field of tall grass appeared around them, a small lake stretching out in front of them and an impressive, pale mansion in the distance. But it was the white gazebo that suddenly stood in front of them that got their attention.

DG walked up the steps as the ghostly figure of the Queen rose from the center of the structure, not looking at anyone in particular and beginning to speak.

Only half listening, Cain glanced over at the others next to him. Glitch was staring, transfixed, at the image of his former employer while Tutor appeared unsurprised. Cain pursed his lips and looked back at DG, who was looking even more confused. “Who’s Ahamo?”

Next to Cain, Glitch gave a little start and Cain knew he recognized the name. But it was Tutor who answered her question. “Ahamo is your father.”

DG looked ready to scream in frustration, no doubt tired of being sent in a dozen different directions and simply wanting to complete this endless search. She stormed off into the hip-high grass.

But it was Glitch who Cain was worried about. When he turned to make sure Glitch would follow, he was confronted with a sickly pale Glitch. Not wanting to fall behind, Cain took his arm and got them moving. “Glitch? What’s wrong?”

Glitch stumbled then caught himself, his hand shaking as he reached up once again to wrap one of his chains around his fingers. “Realm of the Unwanted,” he said faintly.

Cain frowned. “That’s where this Ahamo guy is, yeah. You know how to get there?”

There was a humorless laugh and that alone made Cain’s stomach turn. “Oh, yes,” Glitch answered, tucking his arms tightly around his chest. “I’m quite familiar with it. You could say it’s where I learned some of my more...colorful talents.”

Cain felt nauseous. “You told me you worked somewhere before the Twister Club. It was down in the ‘Rotu, wasn’t it? That’s where you learned to mix drinks?”

But Glitch shattered his illusions. “I didn’t learn to bartend until after someone bought my freedom and brought me to Central.”

“Who?”

“I don’t remember,” Glitch shrugged. “But if I recognize him, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“Don’t,” Cain tightened his hold on Glitch’s arm. “The last thing we need is someone laying claim to you. You’re with us now, you got that? You stay close to me.”

Glitch smiled weakly and nodded. “Don’t worry. The last thing I want is to lose track of you now, especially there.”

~~

End Chapter 6

On to Chapter 7

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
avari_maethor
Jan. 12th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
-squee- Protective Cain = LOVE!

It amazes me how much you can pack into a single chapter.

All the emotion at the end has gotten me in a tizzy and I need to go to bed. O.O It's 3am... jeez I'm bad. Oh well at least this will give me good dreams!
surranndie
Jan. 13th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
*squee with you* You know how much I love Protective!Cain!!! :D The chapters are getting longer and it's getting harder to keep track of the important "plot points," especially as the series gets closer to the end! Now the trick will be to work Cain and Glitch to where they need to be! :D

Thank you so much, that's such an awesome compliment! \o/
kirasha
Jan. 12th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
I absolutely adore this! I had to stop commenting and copying quotes because my lunch hour ended, but I am enthralled. I love how everything flows along with the original, despite the twists and tweaks to make the premise of the AU work.

The graveside scene always hits me. I'm a total Cain-girl all the way and he's so darned lost! I can sit comfortably in Glitch's POV the way you wrote it and understand *completely* how that scene is affecting him to live through it.

Well done! Can't wait for more. :-D
surranndie
Jan. 13th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)
*EEEEeeeee!!!* Thank you so much!!! This story is totally self-indulgent and I'm so glad to hear that it's working so far! (Considering I'm writing each chapter and posting it the day it's done, I have to try and keep track of what I'm doing! :D)

Oh yes - the graveside scene. Sad blonde panda! It just seemed right to have Glitch come over, as they grow closer. I'm thrilled to hear that it felt right, too! :D

Next chapter is up, lots more to come! \o/
witchywanda666
Jan. 12th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Their starting to get cloooose <3


FAVE PART:
“Glitch, are you all right?” Cain came running up beside him, touching his arms and his face in a panic.

Glitch nodded, wrapping his hands around Cain’s arms to still them. “I’m fine,” he assured Cain, extremely touched at the real concern he saw in Cain’s face. “Little beastie came out of nowhere!”


TOUCHING <3 Cain's already like the wife Glitch never had.
surranndie
Jan. 13th, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
THEY ARE! :D And they're just gonna get closer and closer...

Awww, boys touching! Doesn't get much better than that! Poor Cain was so worried for his Glitch!

Thanks for following along as I totally make it up as I go! :D
eleanor_ariail
Jan. 13th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC)
It was just like the ones he had clipped to his chains
Ooh verrrrry interesting!!

Also, 'Rotu! I love it, cause I have a screenshot folder named Trotu, so that's what I call it in my head. Plus, I always love to see natural, canon-sounding slang in fic!
surranndie
Jan. 13th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Mwah...indeed!

Oh, that's too funny! I just did that spontaniously, 'cause it's just too much work to type the full name over and over. And I can't imagine anyone calling it that in casual conversation, it's just too long. I'm glad the slang works - they seem to use a lot of it, especially Wyatt since he's got that street-wise city cop aura about him. :D

Thanks so much!
lionille
Jan. 18th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
!!!!! All the awkwardness and the little touches and uncertainty and concern and saving from mobats!!!!!!
More wonderful fumbling down the road to love...

I would give you cookies just for acknowledging poor Glitch smacked into that tree, and that Cain noticed and asked if he was OK.

And oh, oh, when I realized why Glitch was upset about not wanting to go to the realm I just ached for him!

You’re with us now, you got that? You stay close to me.

I love Cain for this, in this moment, truly I do...

And I grow increasingly intrigued by discs....

surranndie
Jan. 18th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC)
Yay awkward fumbling toward something vague and uncertain! Isn't that what love is? :)

*noms the virtual cookies* Poor Glitch and his poor nose! Cain would kiss it better!

Mwah! *evil laugh* Soon, dearie...soooooon.....
amedia
Jan. 23rd, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
After the conflict you've set up - and extended here! - it's so good that Glitch isn't happy or relieved when Cain finds the grave. And you know, I had no fear that he would be; this is the kind of story where I know I can sit back and enjoy the ride because I have confidence that I'll enjoy it.

Tutor's reaction to the mobat makes a whole lot more sense IIRC than what he said in the mini.

And Glitch's reaction to the mention of the Realm - and oh, CAIN's reaction to Glitch! Protective!Cain, squee!
surranndie
Jan. 23rd, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
Whoo! Such a lovely compliment, your confidence! :D

I'm glad that worked! I had to gloss over the "real" version and have them ignore the disks for now. For plot reasons. *grin*
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )