Cain awakened without moving. Zero had him and DG and there was no prostitute. The right side of his gut hurt as did his right arm, but his back was lying on a mattress in a semi-darkened room. He heard beeping and two people quietly talking.
"Now I know how to call a travel storm without being pissed to hell." That was DG. The tightness in Cain's chest eased. "But I don't want to try until Cain's cleared for travel. They're going to be worried out of their skulls back at the Palace, but there's no way to tell them."
"You're a Princess?" an unfamiliar male voice asked. Cain tensed again.
"You would be fixated on that." Amusement laced DG's voice.
"I just can't believe I topped a princess."
"Yes, 'cause it's all about you."
"Forgive me, your Highness. Am I supposed to be shocked that you've moved to a green Tatooine or that wormholes disguise themselves as tornadoes?" He chuckled and DG joined him. "You've had a few bad days. I'm sure your regal airs are better without that."
"Not really. My father is better than me and he's a carnie from Nebraska."
Why was DG telling this man these things? Cain clenched his left fist.
"So your Tin Man."
DG sighed, "He's not my Tin Man."
"Right. He knows your darkest secrets, but he's just a friend."
"I haven't told anyone." The furniture creaked. "Zero saw my scars, guessed, and kept calling me a 'gutterdoxy.' Cain didn't know it was me." Cain remembered the crisscross mass of scars where someone had tried to skin his Princess with a whip. Why did this unknown man know about it?
"So it's vanilla then?"
"Your one-track mind is set on horny."
"I want to make sure you're happy." Someone jumped out of their seat and stood over Cain. Without opening his eyes, he knew it was DG. The man understood not to crowd her because he didn't move. "DG?"
"How's John?" she asked.
"Moved to Vegas."
"Good. He always talked about it."
DG knew these people, and trusted them with details of her life Cain didn't even know. He opened his eyes to ignore how realizing that made it harder to breathe.
Her wan face leaned over the bed. "Wyatt." Her blue eyes glittered as her hand cupped his cheek. "How do you feel?"
"Why does my arm hurt?" He saw a tangle of clear wires going into needles inserted into his skin and fastened down.
DG caught his reaching left hand and pressed it against his chest. "Leave those alone. They're giving you medicine."
He watched her fingers twine with his. He had taken what she had not given because it was easier than fighting; why was she holding his hand? "Funny way to do medicine. Where are we? Where are the Longcoats?"
"We're in Kansas." She shrugged as Cain stared. "It must be my default setting for safe."
Cain had never heard of anyone calling a travel storm while indoors. "Tutor better be impressed, Princess." The twinge in his side brought up another memory: Zero's savage face behind a gun. "Zero shot me." His hand tightened around hers.
She rubbed his bicep. "Zero's dead, Wyatt. He was the only one who slipped with us." A brown-haired man dressed in a uniform Cain didn't recognize hovered at the foot of the bed. DG tilted her head at him. "Elmer Gulch, Wyatt Cain."
Gulch nodded. "I'll tell the nurse he's awake." He stepped into the bright hall.
DG leaned closer. "Elmer told the hospital we're married, so they'd let me stay in the room with you."
That's why she wasn't pitching the fit she was entitled to pitch. She wanted to make sure he got medical care and knew what was going on. Nothing would stop her from taking care of everyone else first. "Okay. Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine." She smiled at his disbelieving glare. "Elmer made them check me over."
Gulch returned with a woman wearing a matching set of loose shirt and pants. "And how are you feeling?" she asked Cain.
"Like I got shot."
"You're going to be a fun one, aren't you?" The woman went through her questions, and told him what buttons to press for painkilling medication and to call for her or another nurse before leaving.
Gulch picked a hat off the windowsill. "I'll be back tomorrow. Please avoid all tornadoes for now, alright?"
DG nodded with an indulgent smile; Cain nodded with suspicion. Then Gulch was gone, leaving the two of them alone. She had released Cain's hand during the nurse's inquisition, but hadn't left his bedside. Her shoulders sagged with exhaustion. "DG? Why did you tell him about the Zone?"
He never knew what to expect with DG, but he didn't think a simple question of why she trusted Elmer Gulch would make her eyes blaze. "You… you sneaky Tin Man! How long have you been awake?"
"Heard him tease you 'bout being a Princess."
Her hands flew to her hair. "How could you do that? I've been so scared, waiting. People don't always wake up! And you just wanted to eavesdrop on Elmer asking me inane questions."
"The last thing I remembered was being captured by Longcoats and I sure the hell wasn't letting them know I was awake."
She recoiled as if he had slapped her. "I… I drained all my magic." Tears welled up in her bright blue eyes. "I don't know what I'm saying."
Cain caught her arm and she didn't move, staring at the needles in his arm. "I didn't mean to worry you, darlin'. I was trying to find you."
Her hand rested on top of his. "We both need to rest. We'll talk after we wake up."
"Can you at least tell me who it is safe to talk about the Zone with?"
DG set his arm back on the bed. "Only Gulch. He knew me before I left, we dropped out of the travel storm right in front of him, and then I did magic. So I told him the truth."
Cain sighed. "Where are you sleeping?"
"The chair folds into a cot." He glanced at the large, squarish armchair holding a blanket and a pillow. It was between him and the window so he was between her and the door, good. "Anything else?" she asked.
"What happened to your back?" He blurted without thinking, but didn't miss her wince.
"Motorcycle accident. Good-night."
She had stretched out on the folded-out chair before Cain recovered from the blatant lie. "Do you think I'm stupid, DG? You must, if you think I can't recognize whip scars."
"You just got out of surgery. I'm fine, so don't worry about it."
That Gulch fellow knows. "I want to know who did it."
"Do I have to order you to go to sleep?"
That stung. DG hated giving orders, to the point where the servants asked if they had displeased her. "Of course not, your Highness. Forgive me for worrying about your well-being." Cain may have gone a little far judging by how she stomped to his bedside.
"See that?" She pointed to the box hanging next to the bed and displaying moving colored lines and numbers. "That monitors you. So if your blood pressure acts funny, the medical people can save your life." She shoved her black hair off her face. "I can't deal with the drama of you getting pissed off will cause right now. I will give you all the sordid details tomorrow." Her blue eyes, nearly sunk into her head, stared at him for an answer.
He shouldn't have pushed. Gods know he didn't like explaining his scars. "Fine, kiddo, but you don't need to lie to me."
"DG doesn't need to lie, but her Royal Highness Princess Dorothy Gale of the House of Gale has many reasons to." She smiled. "Keeping you from having a stroke is not the least of those."
Cain let her go to sleep. It always disturbed him when she referred to herself as two people. Gulch knew because it happened here in Kansas. But DG's easy manner with Gulch bothered him. Gulch's manner with her--hell. Cain wanted to sit up, but the stitches in his side made him mash the medication button and lie still. Gulch had been flirting with the girl he lost. If he ever had her, but Cain felt no comfort in that wish as he waited for the medication to knock him out.