Tin Man: Dragons and Ninjas

Chapter Eleven

The morning sunshine dimmed slightly by the canvas invigorated Cain. It had the opposite reaction on his new wife. DG burrowed under the blankets muttering something about eternal darkness not such a bad idea. He lifted the blankets, "DG?"

Her hand jerked the blankets out of his grasp. "Sleep. Leave message after beep."

Part of that made sense. He prodded the lump he figured was her hip. "We have to move out this morning."

"Married a workaholic." Her body curled up in a ball, tightening the blankets around her.

"It was your idea." He couldn't resist smirking at her, even if she couldn't see it.

"Leaving the tent is not my idea. Shoot the damn suns."

"You have to leave the tent. Jeb needs it back. I want you dressed before they start knocking it down." He tried to pull her out of the bed, but he only ended up with a sheet.

"I'm suing Disney. They lied to me my whole childhood. Let the Princess sleep!"

"DG, you're not making any sense. And if you don't get up, you're gonna miss breakfast." The bulge on the bed didn't move. "Will you get dressed for coffee?" A hand came out and pointed the thumb up. He hoped that meant yes, and left.

By the time he returned with two mugs full of coffee, DG had on her pants and something that only covered her breasts and brushed her hair. She dropped the brush on the bed and held out her hands for her mug with a whine. "I guess this is progress," he said.

She gestured for him to halt as she swallowed. She let out a contented sigh. "Okay, now I can talk."

Cain felt his lips twitch. "We were talking before."

"You said something before coffee?"

"It wasn't much of a conversation. You wanted me to shoot the suns and you said something about suing Disney, whatever that means." She had that look on her face that usually proceeded a never mind. "Explain it to me." He sat on the edge of the bed.

"I say that when I'm fed up with the princess gig. Disney is a company that filmed a bunch of fairy tales and made being a princess the best idea in the world."

"Filmed?"

"Um, it's like putting a play on a viewdisk to watch over and over. Anyways, I think I should sue them for false advertising." Cain nodded. "Are you going to drink that?" She pointed to his mug.

"I am drinking this. You can get more at breakfast." She huffed, handed him her empty mug, and went back to brushing her hair. He took a sip of coffee. "DG, I want to know about the Other Side, or at least, what you're talking about. Don't shut up because I have to ask."

She put her hair into a ponytail. "Okay, as long as you ask and don't look at me all irritated." She pulled her shirt over her head. "And conversations before coffee don't work. I never remember what I said."

"I hadn't noticed that about you."

She shrugged as she looked under the bed. "Maybe it's a sleep deprivation thing. I wasn't kidding when I said I sleep best on your duster." She fished out her boots and sat back on her heels. She must not have liked his expression because she scrambled to her feet. "No regrets about this, Wyatt. No guilt or being pissed off at yourself." She cupped his face in her hands. "The last few days have been hell, for both of us. But they got me you and you can't guess at the hell I would go through to have you." Her blue eyes blazed as she kissed him.

He dropped her empty mug and caught the back of her head, pressing her tighter before releasing her. He squeezed her shoulder. "We're in this together, DG. We can make camp a little early tonight."

She shoved on her boots and they headed to the mess hall tent. DG sat next to Az. "I don't think your new Slipper friend likes me," the older woman confided. "He ends up muttering 'I'm so glad I only have one' a lot."

"I remind him of his sister. Where is he?"

"He went with Captain Cain to teach him how to make a cocktail. Though why a captain in the Royal Army needs bartending skills, I don't know."

Cain chuckled as he buttered his toast. "You don't drink those cocktails, Princess. They're an Other Side way of blowing things up."

Az raised her eyebrows. "No, I don't know anything about Molotov cocktails. I was a speed demon, not an arsonist." DG huffed and attacked her eggs.

Glitch looked up from across the table from Az. "So it's not common knowledge on the Other Side?"

"It more depends on where you're from. Kansas didn't have any civil uprisings while I was there."

"And New York City did?"

"There were some terrorist attacks that made the news a few years ago, but I didn't pay attention. I didn't live there. Zack might have picked up his mad ninja skills then." Az opened her mouth and DG pointed her fork at her. "Don't you dare say anything about Father letting me go."

"I wasn't going to say that." Her huff was similar to DG's. "I was going to say that your violent tendencies make more sense." DG glared at her sister who daintily wiped her mouth.

Raw chuckled as he left the table. "DG only violent for those she loves."

"Thank you, Raw," she called after the leaving Viewer. She turned back to Az. "You can't teleport back to Central City and drain yourself."

"Actually, I need to go to Finaqua. That's where I sent Thaddeus to cover for me."

Cain frowned, "Thaddeus?"

DG finished off her coffee. "Remember the Longcoat who surrendered and then acted like a butler at the Tower after the Eclipse?"

"The one who knew where everything was and sang like a stoolie? Why is he working for the Royal Family?"

"He's working for me, Wyatt." Az shook her head. "That will take some getting used to. Raw vouched for him. And he has qualifications that he would rather employ for the House of Gale."

"He survived as the witch's Vy-Sor for seven years, annuals, without getting his soul sucked out or getting shot by Longcoats," DG said. "That's an impressive résumé skill in the O.Z."

"But you're okay with it?" Cain asked.

Az smiled. "He's not giving me traumatic flashbacks. And he's sneaky. That comes in handy."

Glitch grinned. "I'm okay with it, Tin Man. He bats for the other side, to use DG's vernacular."

"So how are you going to get back to Finaqua?" DG asked to change the subject.

Az raised her eyebrows again. "You're going to send me."

"I don't know how to do that."

"What is Tutor teaching you?" DG pushed her plate away and laid her head down on the table with a groan. "What did I say now?"

"That's not your fault, Azkadee. Tutor has dropped the ball on DG's magic lessons. The Slipper knows more about magic than she does."

Az patted DG's shoulder. "It's okay. Why didn't you ask me for help?"

DG twisted her head to look at her. "You didn't react well the last time I asked you."

"Deeg, that was four months ago. I'm better now."

A soldier cleared his throat at the door and Cain nodded. "Come on, we've lingered long enough." Az walked next to him. "Thank you for your wedding present."

She blushed. "Nothing is too good for DG. And you make her happy." She sighed as she looked at DG's back. "I didn't realize how unhappy she was."

"She hid it from everyone."

Az hugged him. "Take care of her and Ambrose."

"Of course." He awkwardly patted her back. She was his sister-in-law now, and she was right. It was going to take some getting used to. She embraced Glitch before taking DG's hand and disappearing into the tent. Glitch turned away, swinging his arms. "Zipperhead?"

"I'm alright, I'm alright, I'm alright." He shook himself out of the misfire. "It's too dangerous for her. I know that. I don't like it, but," he shrugged, "there we are."

"You two shouldn't put what you want last all the time." Cain stopped. He wasn't any good at these types of heart-to-hearts, why did he keep getting stuck with them?

"I wouldn't have pegged you for the type of wanting to see all your friends get hitched too."

Cain's lip twitched. "What's the plan now? Should DG and I pretend not to be married?"

Glitch frowned while thinking. "It would probably be safest not to advertise it, if you don't find that kind of subterfuge distasteful."

"I'm stuck with it now."

"There is something to be said for your direct approach. Lord Gillikin has been married for years and his children are younger than DG, so there is no need to use her status as a weapon. But Lord Quelala is near DG's age and last reported to be unwed."

Cain snorted.

DG came out of the tent with a far-away expression while trying to put her pack on. Glitch responded first. "Doll?"

She woke up with a near stumble. "Az made it."

Cain moved close enough to catch her. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, other than my magic actually doing what I tell it to."

"Magic is supposed to work that way," Glitch said.

DG shrugged, and didn't explain. "When are we leaving?"

It took a few more minutes than Cain had estimated. Raw and Glitch had to pack their stuff, and finding Jeb and Zack in the headquarters tent, the last place anyone had looked for them. Zack and Jeb were trading explosion stories, and he regretted having to put a stop to their enjoyment. Jeb hadn't had many chances to just relax. He ignored the fact that they were trading war stories with such gusto.

DG pulled the others away, so he could say good-bye to his son. "I sent a messenger to the Second Division with the information DG found. We're going to find the rendezvous at Gillikin River."

Cain grasped Jeb's shoulder, looking into his hazel eyes. "Be careful."

"You too. We got the easier assignment, though. The worst that can happen to us is getting shot." Jeb wrapped his arms around him. "Give me that any day over not knowing who to trust in the middle of court intrigues."

"I only trust who I got with me." Cain squeezed and released him. He felt Jeb's eyes on them while they moved into the pine forest.