Title: Resolution [1/4]
Pairing & Characters: DG & Cain friendship, Az & Jeb friendship, occasional Raw, Glitch, and OCs
Rating: PG-13 (swearing)
Disclaimer: don’t own, don’t make money off of. Do take enjoyment from, do want Cain’s duster & gun.
Summary: Glitch chuckled. “Sure does. Green takes less energy, blue more. Red, in between green and blue. Purple takes the most. Yellow is common with orange and both of those are the easiest.”
- thanks to my betas: pixie_on_acid, goodisrelative, and queenof1000days
- Any mistakes now are ones I blatantly ignored from the above three or my own. :-)
- I know, I was evil at the end of The Trek, but I’m the evil twin!
+ + + + +
“DG, what do you need?” Glitch asked when he found her in his lab early one morning six months after their return from DG’s trek to find the Tin Suits and Cain’s leaving the palace.
DG studied Glitch for a moment before she responded. “No one can know anything about this, Glitch.”
Glitch took in her seriousness, the hollow pain still in her eyes, and nodded. “I won’t talk of this to anyone.”
“Thank you,” DG smiled. “Now, I need an eternal flame. A way to keep the flame constant, day and night, never to go out.”
Glitch nodded. “What color flame?”
DG blinked. That was not a question she had expected. “Um, I’ll have to think about that. Does it make a difference?”
Glitch chuckled. “Sure does. Green takes less energy, blue more. Red, in between green and blue. Purple takes the most. Yellow is common with orange and both of those are the easiest.”
DG sighed. Yet another decision to make. She was getting tired of constantly having to make decisions. “Green. The flame should be green, like the emerald.”
“Okay then, green requires methanol and boric acid. But that runs down fast. There is copper sulfate. Easier to find, more of the emerald color you are looking for. Hmmm.” And Glitch was off in his own world talking ideas through, discarding some and keeping others. It was five minutes before he suddenly turned back to DG and asked, “How large?”
“The flame?” DG was confused; she hadn’t followed all of his comments.
“Yes. How large will the flame be?” Glitch nodded.
“Small, 8 inches tall. Maybe two inches in diameter for the source. How hot will this get? I want it seen but not melting the container it’s in.” DG questioned, realizing that she might not be able to do what she really wanted.
Glitch cocked his head and thought. “It would be hot but it depends on the size, shape, and material of the container.”
“The helmet of a Tin Suit.” DG decided it was just easier for them to work if she was honest with her friend.
Glitch frowned. “But I melted all of them. There aren’t any left. I’m sorry, DG, you didn’t tell...”
DG shook her head. “There is one helmet left, Glitch; no worries there. So, it is possible? I can just do normal flame.”
“No, you want green. I will give you green flame. What else do I have to work with?” Glitch asked.
DG described to him what she wanted. When she was finished, Glitch smiled at her. It was brilliant! A perfect memorial to a man—Glitch frowned and changed thoughts—to a man who didn’t believe in her anymore and wanted nothing to do with her and didn’t understand her desire or need to do what she was working on.
With Glitch locked up in his lab working on DG’s secret project, DG herself made several trips back and forth to Central City to oversee work on the playground. It was coming along beautifully and she couldn’t wait for the dedication. One annual after the end of her “Tin Suit Trek” as Glitch named it, and two annuals after the fall of the Evil Witch. What better way than to mark those occasions than with children’s laughter?
A month before the scheduled celebration, Jeb made his way through Central City to his father’s office. “Father.”
“Jeb, what brings you into Central City? All is well at the palace?”
Jeb nodded. “Yes, everything’s fine at the palace. Father, I want you to look over these security plans for the dedication.” He didn’t elaborate on what dedication, there was only one going on in Central City.
Cain stared at his son “You’ve been making these security decisions just fine on your own; don’t start doubting yourself now. Besides, you know I won’t be in Central then.”
So Az had heard right. His father was leaving the city during the dedication. “You know all the men and their families are invited.”
“And that makes it right? Those suits are nothing but abominations. They should have been destroyed!” Cain swore.
“Father, all of them were destroyed. They were melted down to elements and re-structured into playground materials,” Jeb started. “Don’t you think Central needs more children’s laughter? Don’t you think the spot is perfect? The City is still struggling to come back from the Witch’s reign. This will give everyone new hope, restore their faith that even though the process is long, Central will return from its darkest hour.”
“Of course Central needs to hear more children’s laughter! But that doesn’t mean Tin Suits should mar it!” Cain almost shouted.
There was to be two ceremonies. The first two hours were just for the men and their families—the men who had spent time in the suits and their families who had lost time because of the suits. After that, there would be a public dedication and all the children of Central City were invited.
DG smoothed her long leather coat in the front. She had asked the royal family to not wear gowns for this dedication. She was in a dark brown, long leather skirt, a bright emerald green top and brown boots. She knew the style was more Cain’s but she wanted him represented in some small way.
Az and Jeb didn’t need to tell her he was out of the city for the dedication. She had known there was no chance in hell he would be there. He didn’t understand her creation or the thoughts and decisions behind it. He didn’t see that this was for the children and the families of the men caught up in the hell of the suit, a way to show them it would never happen again.
She sighed, he was still living in his Tin Suit, only now it was of his own choice, and she couldn’t free him.
“Are you ready, DG?” Az called from behind the closed door of their suites in Central City.
DG closed her eyes, took a fortifying breath, and moved to open the door. It was time to leave; she didn’t have time to entertain doubts and fears. She smiled broadly at her older sister. “You look fantastic, Az!” The other princess had on a simple tan leather skirt; a burnt red, fitted top with a wide scoop neck; ruby earrings and pendant; and a short leather jacket.
Az chuckled. “So do you, little sister.” She cupped her younger sister’s cheek. “One day, DG, he will accept and even come to understand this creation of yours.”
DG smiled and hugged Az. “I know. But men can be damned slow sometimes!”
The two sisters’ laughter could be heard two floors down as they made their way to the rest of the Royal Family.
The playground was circular, offering different levels of complexity for different children. There were forts and swings, castles and slides, and even a merry-go-round. There were talking devices to carry voices from fort to castle and castle to fort. There were springy bridges to jump on, rope ladders to climb, and jungle gyms to swing across on.
And there, in the center of it all, was her memorial. It was placed as if to watch over the playing children. There had been holes cut in the sides of the helmet to help release the heat from the green flame, so even that added to the illusion of a Tin Suit standing guard for the children. The Tin Suit was surrounded by plaques—five in all—to explain the purpose of the playground, the Tin Suit and the eternal green flame.
Reactions were mixed at the sight of the Suit: no one had expected it. Everyone, though, was shocked as it was uncovered—everyone except Glitch and DG—but even Glitch had never seen the final product all put together and was in awe.
DG spoke then. “The final Tin Suit stands here, watching over the playing children, as a memorial. As a reminder. The Suit reminds us of the horrible times you all have conquered. The Suit reminds us that while not all are good, there are those out there who would risk everything to ensure that good wins. The Suit reminds us of everything people gave up to bring children’s laughter back to Central City and all of the OZ.
“This last Tin Suit is to remind all who come next not to forget what was before and what could easily happen again if we don’t stand up to evil. The Suit’s point is to be an eternal memorial to those men who did not survive the Suit and to those still lost to the Suit.
“The brilliant green flame is a light to guide home those who are still lost in a Suit of their own making. Home to their families and to themselves. The flame is an eternal beacon of hope to those going through difficult times—they will get better. We—all of us—will get through this. We will finish rebuilding the OZ and Central City.
“There are five plaques around the Tin Suit. One is for the families, one is for the men of the Tin Suits, one is for the OZ, one is for those who died bringing light back to the OZ, and the last is for one man.” DG smiled at everyone, confident in her words and her explanation. “Let the children play!” And she nodded for two young children to cut the ribbon and watched the children of the Tin Suit Men run and play. She grinned at their laughter.
As it is the way of women and men, the wives moved forward to read the plaques while the men stood back from the Tin Suit. The men were still wary of the thing that had taken so much from them. The women glanced at DG and gave her understanding smiles.
It took almost the entire two hours for the wives to draw the men to the Tin Suit, to get them to read the plaques. And as all of the adults finally made their way around the Tin Suit, there was not a dry eye in the crowd.
“Princess, you did beautiful. You made our hell into something meaningful and lasting. It is an honor for us, all of us, to be here with you for this dedication.” Stanel Dute, the first man they had discovered on the Trek, told her as he shook her hand.
DG wiped a tear away with her free hand. “No, the honor is mine.”
There were days, as she continued to make decisions for the OZ, that she still turned to speak with Cain, to seek his input. It was those days that nearly broke her. They were getting fewer now, as almost two annuals had passed since he had left her. It was what scared her the most—that one day she’d not turn for Cain’s advice. The day she stopped turning to speak to him, she knew, would be the day she gave up on him.
DG had finagled an hour alone—or as alone as one could be with two stealth guards following her—at the playground. She was dressed in street clothes, her hair and face disguised as she walked the streets to it. She needed a little time to herself steeped in children’s laughter and hope before she returned to the palace for duty.
She walked in one of the entrances and froze. She closed her eyes and shook her head, telling herself she was seeing things, but when she opened her eyes again, the man in the long leather duster and fedora hat was still at the other opening. She hurried toward the man frozen at the entrance and staring at the Tin Suit. It was Cain, she would recognize him anywhere even now, but even so far away still, she could read the pain, hurt, and fury in his face as he stared at the Tin Suit. Steeling herself, she continued towards him, determined to speak to him, to make him understand the meaning.
DG was only ten feet from him when she heard his cold, angry words and she stumbled to one knee under the weight of them. When she looked up again, he was gone. But his words repeated over and over in her mind. “She lied to me. She promised they would all be destroyed! Turned into a playground for children. What did I really expect after all of her trickery and deceit? Look at what she promised her sister and then did in that cave?”
No one said a word over the following months as DG never stepped foot in her playground. She smiled as people spoke of it as “DG’s Playground” and she made sure someone cared for the place but she never returned to it after hearing Cain’s words there. It was too painful and too hard to explain why her beautiful gift was suddenly too hard to visit.
Exactly two annuals after they returned from the Tin Men Trek, on annual after the dedication of the playground, DG, Amaho, and their teams of guards left the palace to once again visit villages. It had been DG’s idea and, yet again, it was really a cover to get out of the scrutiny of the palace and Central City. She needed a break from the protocol and this had worked so well the last time.
DG chuckled as they rode, there was no covert mission this time, and she knew Jeb would kill her himself if there had been one. Like father, like son. She knew Jeb spoke weekly to his father, that Central City was finally peaceful because of him and his new Tin Men. She knew Cain was in good health, though she never asked. Raw, Az, and Jeb spoke of him often to her, keeping her appraised of what he was doing and how he was faring. And for that, she loved her friends. Glitch reported that his ever-improving body armor was saving lives; she knew it had saved Cain’s more than a few times and for that she was thankful.
“Father, what have you heard about the Outpost?” Jeb was in Central City because Az was presiding over a few events in the City while the Queen entertained visiting royalty.
Cain blinked. “Why are you here? I thought you were heading the team with the princess and Ahamo?”
Jeb frowned. He still referred to DG as “the princess.” “No, Kolman is heading that up. I can’t be everywhere and DG,” he stressed the name, “asked if I would stay with Az and the Queen.”
Cain rolled his eyes. “Wonder what she is plotting now,” he muttered under his breath.
“That’s enough!” Jeb stared his father down. “You don’t get to talk of her like that anymore. You are acting like a spoiled child! You want the right to belittle her? Go see DG’s Playground and tell me she didn’t get it right and then I might take heed in your words about her again.”
Cain held his son’s gaze. “I saw that she lied. Again.”
Jeb let his confusion show in his eyes. He had surveillance at the playground: he knew his father had never stepped inside. “You haven’t been inside the grounds.”
“I was at an entrance. I saw the suit she preserved. She swore they would be destroyed. She lied again, to suit her needs.” Cain stated, fury coloring his words.
Jeb shook his head. At least now he knew why DG refused to visit the playground. “What did you say to her?”
This time it was Cain who was confused. “I haven’t talked with the princess in months and I neither saw nor talked with her at that place.”
Jeb blinked. He’d bet his pay for the year DG had been there when Cain found the final Tin Suit. “You never entered the grounds so you have no idea what the last Tin Suit does,” he told his father softly. “She’s right, you know. DG, I mean. You put yourself back in that Tin Suit and, this time, it has to be you who lets yourself out of it, Father.”
“Enough talk of Tin-.”
“No, it’s not.” Jeb cut him off. “Until you go in there and read the plaques and talk with the others, it isn’t enough talk of Tin Suits.”
Cain broke his son’s gaze. “You mentioned the Outpost? What do you want to know about it?”
“Ahamo wants to visit while he and DG are out at villages. I wanted to know if you have heard anything about the security of the place.” Jeb let the subject drop—for now.
Cain sighed. “It isn’t as settled as it used to be an annual ago. I’d keep the princess out of it.”
Jeb nodded. That was what he had heard too. “That’s what I heard too.” He was starting to regret not going with them, but he knew they were in good hands. Looking at his watch, he sighed. He needed to get back. “Father, you really should talk with the others and go read the plaques.”
Cain shook his son’s hand before closing the door behind him. The playground was a topic they were just going to have to agree to disagree on.