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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 10 – Brain Room


Glitch picked up the thrown hat with an air of veneration, dusting it off gently then handing it back to its owner. Stepping back, he reached up and gave Cain a helping hand in climbing down from the upper decking.

Two Longcoats guarded the open doorway leading to the Brain Room’s hallway. Glitch impulsively charged forward, fixated on attack them from behind as his mind told them they were easy targets. But there on the floor in front of them, out of nowhere, was Toto, barking at the guards.

Frozen with his hand hovering above one man’s throat, Glitch could only stand by and watch as Toto became Tutor once again. Tutor took advantage of his moment of surprise and knocked out the two Longcoats. Looking past their fallen bodies, he grinned at Glitch. “Go.”

Glitch nodded and with a look over his shoulder to make sure Cain and Raw were still behind him, led the way to their goal.

The sight that greeted him was so astounding that he stumbled to a halt just inside the massive double doors. Never having expected to see his missing brain again, let alone to find it on display and effectively running the device that would destroy the world, Glitch couldn’t help but stop and stare at it as it hung suspended in the oversized vat of unidentifiable liquid.

A hysterical giggle escaped. “I’d recognized myself anywhere,” he joked absently. Shaking himself from his stupor, Glitch forced his feet to bring him to the edge of the tank. He raised trembling fingers to touch the glass; he was shocked to feel its warmth. For some reason, he had expected nothing but cold.

“Are you ready to get reacquainted with yourself, Glitch?” Cain’s voice at his side was at the same time terrifying and reassuring.

Glitch only had time to nod before Raw’s hands touched first the green glass then Glitch’s temple. There was a burst of light, a flash that sent his mind racing and tumbling into chaos. He had expected a feeling of completeness, of becoming whole again, of being able to think clearly for the first time in what seemed like forever.

Instead, he felt as if he had been pushed aside and someone completely separate from himself had taken over his body. There was nothing he could do but listen from somewhere inside himself as his own voice, low and quick and confident, tumbled from his own lips.

He heard Cain call him Glitch, could see the frustration on Cain’s face when he was corrected. There was reluctance and grief in Cain’s voice when he addressed the new speaker as Ambrose.

Numbers swirled around him and emerged from Ambrose’s mouth while Cain punched them in to the keyboard nearby.

Glitch wanted to tell them he was here, wanted so badly to let Cain know that this wasn’t him, that it wasn’t him anymore, but he had no way of regaining control of his body. But he tried anyway; yelling and hoping someone would hear him. And out of the corner of his eye, Glitch could see Raw’s lips moving – but not matching the shapes of the words Ambrose was saying, but what Glitch was trying to say. He knew then at least one person understood what was happening and that would have to be enough.

It was a shocking disappointment to say the least. Ever since he had learned that his brain still existed and functioned, he had some hope at getting it back. But it didn’t look as though that was a possibility anymore. They were two separate beings now, having been cut apart and set on their own paths for far too long.

Cain’s laugh caught Glitch off-guard and he wished he could turn his head to gape at the other man. That was one thing he had yet to witness. Cain had gifted him with the rare smile that sent Glitch’s heart racing, but this was the first time he had heard that breathy chuckle.

But his momentary joy was shattered by shouting and disarray. Raw’s hand was torn away abruptly and Glitch had to grab onto the edge of the tank’s pedestal to keep from falling over from the disorientation. To his left, Raw was taken down by one of the Longcoats. In the short time it took Glitch to realize he was back in control of his own body, Cain had jumped in to defend him and there was an impossibly loud gunshot.

Glitch cried out in horror as he saw Cain fall, slamming into a side door and hitting the floor unmoving.

There was an arm around his throat and the hot metal of a recently discharged gun barrel pressed to the side of his neck. Glitch couldn’t take his eyes off of Cain’s body. Then another set of hands, this time much smaller, connected him to the intruder in the glass tank. Numbers emerged from the child’s mouth but this time, the connection was not so complete. Glitch still had control over his body; it was as if the child were simply reading the information.

Glitch, no matter what happens, you keep fighting.

Glitch knew he was surrounded, there were too many soldiers and people with weapons. If he was to survive this, to get the others out safely, he had to stall the process the only way he knew how. So he drew a deep breath and fought his own mind, shouting out numbers at random and drowning out the small voice next to him.

There was a fat, smoke-scented hand pressed to his mouth and his only method of defiance was once again cut off. He struggled against the man holding him, but he simply couldn’t match the other’s strength.

After the last of the code numbers was entered, there was nothing left to do but wait.

Glitch never heard movement to his right and was as shocked as anyone else when the razor came flying out of nowhere and stuck right into the back of the man holding the gun against Glitch’s skin.

Taking advantage of the surprise attack, Glitch ducked out from under the arm holding him and with great satisfaction, kicked the crap out of the Longcoat who had been restraining him.

Turning to find someone else to take down, Glitch was caught in the chest by a powerful electrical shock and sent to the ground, unconscious.

~~

Cain was still struggling to his feet when he heard Raw’s impressive roar. He sat up in time to see the livid Viewer tear the shockstaff from the hands of the man who had taken Glitch’s brain in the first place. Raw appeared to take great pleasure in electrocuting the vile alchemist to death.

Looking around quickly, Cain saw their captors were all on the floor and so was Glitch. For a long, horrible moment, Cain feared he had been too late and Glitch was dead.

Stumbling to his feet, Cain staggered in a pathetic hunch over to Glitch and fell uncontrolled to his knees. He pressed one hand to Glitch’s chest, overcome with relief when he felt the fast but steady heartbeat against his palm. Once again able to breathe, Cain focused on what had to be done.

“Glitch,” he called, giving Glitch a little shake. “Glitch, come on.” Left with little choice (the world was about to end, after all), Cain drew up his hand and gave Glitch a solid slap across the cheek.

Glitch sputtered and looked up at him with a warm, welcoming expression. “Hello,” he said in that seductive voice of his; Cain knew then that Glitch thought he was back in the ‘Rotu. Then Glitch reached up and touched his cheek, glaring at Cain in annoyance. “Do I know you?”

Cain sighed in relief and grinned at the change. “Good morning, sweetheart,” he said earnestly.

“Cain!” Synapses fired in the right direction again and Glitch took hold of Cain’s proffered hand readily. He couldn’t think of a more welcome sight at that moment than waking up to Cain.

“Come on, we’ve got to shut it down,” Cain told him, helping him to his feet.

Raw let go of the young Viewer child and returned to his place at Glitch’s side, reestablishing the connection with the brain.

Fully expecting to be pushed aside again, Glitch was stunned to find himself still controlling his body. He opened his eyes again when he heard Cain asking him for the last code number.

“I can’t – I can’t think,” Glitch faltered, bringing one hand up to touch his lips. As if he expected them to be moving on their own accord once again.

“We don’t have time for this,” Cain stepped back and Glitch turned only to see Cain drawing his weapon. “I know what to do.”

Glitch watched in horror as Cain held up his gun, pointing it at the brain floating in the tank. It may not be a part of him any longer, but that was Ambrose in there, a living person. But Glitch knew that Cain had no way of knowing that. “Wait – no, just – “ Glitch closed his eyes and thought, searching for those elusive numbers in his own remaining brain matter.

Finally, finally, he found it and threw his head back, shouting the answer with profound relief. “1208! The Queen’s birthday, of course!” Cain released the breath he had been holding and dropped his arm. Glitch could see how much that threat had cost him, but he settled for pointing to the keyboard and giving the order. “Commence the reverse pulsing!”

Cain did so, with great satisfaction.

~~

The three of them made their clumsy way down the hall and halfway around the curve of the tower to Azkadellia’s main chambers, led there by Raw. As they walked, Raw pressed his hand to the wound on Cain’s shoulder and took away the dull ache easily, once again healing damaged flesh with great skill.

Pushing the door open, Cain gave Raw a grateful look. They entered quietly but were not quite stealthy enough to avoid DG catching them.

DG ran over and embraced each of them, laughing breathlessly when Raw picked her up mid-hug. Cain gave her his one-armed hug again, trying to avoid getting blood on the Princess.

They all watched the eclipse, dreading that it would never end. And when it did, everyone breathed freely. The royal family turned away from the balcony and came back into the room after ensuring that their kingdom was safe.

And when Cain saw who it was standing next to Azkadellia, the tall blonde man from the ‘Rotu, everything fell into place with a nearly audible click. “You’re Ahamo,” he gaped. “You lied to us. You’re DG’s father.”

Ahamo smiled secretively. “I’m sorry for the deception. I had to make sure DG completed her objective. We couldn’t risk losing her to the Longcoats, not before she could get to the emerald.”

Glitch squinted at Ahamo. “All those annuals ago, you’re the one who bought my freedom and took me to the Mystic Man. Why?”

“Ambrose,” Ahamo stepped closer as he spoke. “You have to realize by now how very essential you are to the security of the O.Z. When I found you there, I was appalled at what had happened you. I had to get you out of there and put you somewhere safe where I knew where you were. The Mystic Man knew you, too, of course. He knew when DG arrived that it was time to send you on your way, to help her and to help us all.”

“I’m not Ambrose,” Glitch said firmly, drawing shocked looks from everyone but Raw. “Ambrose is still in that aquarium down the hall. The name’s Glitch.”

Ahamo gave a sad chuckle. “I don’t suppose you remember that it was me who gave you that name, do you?”

“Did you?” Glitch blinked. “Imagine that.”

“Listen – we’ve still got to shut down that machine for good,” Ahamo straightened, still addressing Glitch. “You’re the only one who holds the key to doing that.”

Glitch took a step back, flustered, stepping behind Cain. “I don’t know how,” he said uncertainly. “And the last time Raw tried to...to attach me to that thing that used to be my brain, it didn’t work. I can’t go through that again.”

“You don’t have to,” Ahamo told him gently. “May I?” He held out a hand toward Glitch.

Cain glared at Ahamo. “What do you want from him?”

But Glitch had already come forward, curiosity outweighing his fear. He flinched slightly when Ahamo reached up and very lightly touched Glitch’s chains, drawing one of them around for Glitch to see. Ahamo was holding one of the flat disks between his fingers. “Don’t you know what these are?”

“They’re pretty,” Glitch shrugged and grinned irreverently.

“Azkadellia?” Ahamo suddenly turned toward his daughter.

Azkadellia took a couple of hesitant steps forward and Glitch couldn’t help but flinch slightly in her presence. She ignored him in favor of studying the thing Ahamo was holding. “It’s a video disk,” she answered, her tone soft and puzzled.

~~

End Chapter 10

On to Chapter 11 - Final Chapter

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lionille
Jan. 18th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
But he tried anyway; yelling and hoping someone would hear him. And out of the corner of his eye, Glitch could see Raw’s lips moving – but not matching the shapes of the words Ambrose was saying, but what Glitch was trying to say. He knew then at least one person understood what was happening and that would have to be enough.

This was a most fascinating premise, I loved it!

And Cain's hand on Glitch's chest because he was making sure his heart was still beating was lovely.

Ahamo coming forward and explaining about the disks was great... whew, I was relieved Glitch wasn't going to have to go through any more mental stress!

And your description of Ambrose being in an aquarium totally cracked me up! *is still laughing over it*

Another fab installment, m'dear!
surranndie
Jan. 18th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
*GRIN!* You know I always have to mess with everything! Raw's mouth was totally not saying the same things as Ambrose was there. *sage nod*

Thank you so much! The final chapter will be up momentarily! \o/
avari_maethor
Jan. 18th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
But he tried anyway; yelling and hoping someone would hear him. And out of the corner of his eye, Glitch could see Raw’s lips moving – but not matching the shapes of the words Ambrose was saying, but what Glitch was trying to say.

I always wondered about that! It fits so well! I'm so glad you addressed it.

Oh my goodness! What a fantablous twist! Good thing Glitch never traded one of the video disk necklaces accidentally. I hope you do go into detail about what's on the disks. I'm so curious now!
surranndie
Jan. 18th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad it fit - you know how I always have to make things not what they seem! :)

*nodnod* I think Glitch knew he had to keep them, on some level, if only because they were one of the few things that were actually *his* to start with.

Thank you kindly! The last chapter will be up in a moment! *happy dance!*
amedia
Jan. 23rd, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
EEeeeee! The way you've done the brain room scene, I love it! *reads it over and over* Poor Glitch, having Ambrose just take over - but it fits with the way he talks when they're connected, low and quick and confident, . And you have Cain's laugh in there, but Glitch can't respond - oh, that hurts so good!

The sweetheart moment is especially wonderful because it resonates with Glitch saying it back in DeMilo's wagon (with his hand on Cain's tummy, yum, and no I didn't have to look that up, it's stuck in my mind).

And the video disks! I was waiting for those to be recognized!!!!
surranndie
Jan. 23rd, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
*swoons happily* I'm so glad! There are so many ways to read that scene, how Glitch/Ambrose change back and forth, they don't seem like a "person made whole" so much as a "hostile takeover."

Mmm, yes - all that filler just to get to the callback. That "sweetheart" couldn't have just come from nowhere, not the way Glitch reacted! :D

Yay! Your patience was rewarded! \o/

Thank you again!
witchywanda666
Jan. 24th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
That is an awesome way to explain why Raw was moving his mouth...! Sneaky and awesome!! YAY MOAR *runs off to last chapter*
surranndie
Jan. 24th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
You are so damn cute, you know that? *giggles helplessly*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )