"Aren't they sweet together?"  DG sighed happily, and leaned against the railing overlooking the mostly darkened ballroom far below.  
Azkadellia walked over to stand beside her, following DG's line of sight to find out what she's talking about. "Who is?" DG nodded towards the room below, where Cain and Glitch danced together in the silent, empty room, drifting from shadow to shadow.  Azkadellia gave a sad smile, and a soft nod, "They are, I just wish they'd be more careful." 
"What do you mean, more careful?", DG frowned, watching her friends dance far below. 
"I mean, I wish they'd be more careful.  They've both already suffered so much, too much, and most of which was my fault, I'd hate to see them suffer again because they weren't paying close enough attention to their surroundings.  What if it was someone other then us up here?  What if someone else were to see them?" 
DG's frown deepneded and she turned her back to the room, leaning her elbows onto the railing behind her casually. "So what if someone did?  What business is it of theirs?" 
Azkadellia gave her sister a frown of her own, reviewing the last few moments in her head, trying to figure out how they were miscommunicating on this topic, "It's the business of the crown, Deej.  Cain's a tin man, he knows the laws as well as anyone, he's probably had to enforce those laws more then once.  And Ambrose has lived in the court all his life, he was even there when Lord Colton and his lover were jailed when we were children, both men know the punishments for being caught together like this." 
DG blinked, "Jailed?  You mean being gay is illegal here?" 
Tilting her head to the side, Azkadellia shook her head, "I don't know what that word means, but there are laws against men sleeping with other men.  Same for women, of course.  The laws are very old, dating back to the reign of the eldest Gale." 
"Dorthy made the laws?" 
"Well, I don't know about that, but the laws are certainly old enough that she might have." Azkadellia shrugged, turning to look down into the room again, where the two men now simply standing together, quietly talking, their bodies still held as if they hadn't even realised yet that they'd stopped moving. "It's really quite sad.  They both did so much for the O.Z., they deserve a little happiness in their lives." 
"Wait, no, go over this with me again." DG snapped her fingers in front of her sister's face, turning the other woman abruptly with the shock of the rudeness, "You're honestly telling me that my two best friends can't even be together in this world?  I thought this was supposed to be some kind of incredibly advanced society?  I mean, yah, the technology is kinda mixed, cars and guns, but you still ride horses, too, and half the men wear corsets, but still...  A guy can invent a Sun Seeder, but he can't openly kiss his boyfriend?" 
Azkadellia shook her head sadly, "That's just the way it is, Deej, it's the law." 
"But you were a queen!  And mother is a queen!  You make the laws!" 
"But we're also subject to the laws!" 
"Well I'm not asking you to marry some random girl, am I?" 
"Deej, that's just not how things are done here." 
DG looked fiercely at her sister, her eyes darkening in a way the elder sibling hadn't seen since the destruction of the Witch, "Well, they won't be for much longer.  Not if I have anything to say about this."

* . * . *
DG was so furious that she didn't really care who's meeting with her parents she was interrupting when she finally reached her mother's private interview rooms and burst in unannounced.  The guards on either side of the entrance barely had time to reach for the knobs for her, before she grabbed them herself and flung both doors wide, letting them slam into the walls behind.  The guards inside the room reacted more quickly then their counterparts, and had their weapons drawn before DG could set foot inside, but a quick movement from her father stilled them from approaching her.  Instead DG shot a fierce glance at the three well dressed men standing before her mother's throne and simply pointed at them with one hand, and then jerked her thumb angrily behind her towards the doors.  The three men took the hint, and only gave a bare bow to the queen before fairly running from the room. 
DG had developed quite a reputation since her return to the Outer Zone, stories of her adventures and her battles to save her family had spread far and quickly, but despite the official story spread by the castle scholars and historians, most of the common folk didn't quite know what to make of their newly acquired princess.  Stories of how she had overthrown Azkadellia ranged from a magic spell, to the (more accurate) power of love, to a full scale war (apparently she had personally ridden at the head of the rebel army to storm the castle, while dressed in full battle armor, no less).  Her miraculous return from the dead hadn't tampered the wild rumors any, and had, in fact, only served to leave a healthy fear of her in the hearts of most whom had never met her, mingled with their respect and thanks. 
Cain had quickly assured her that she'd get more done in this life if she did not try to halt those rumors.  DG had yet to find reason to fault to his logic. 
As the men scurried out, the queen sighed, "Yes, DG, can I help you?" 
"Mother?  We need to talk." 
"Yes, I gathered that by your rather dramatic entrance and your frightening away my delegates."  DG's father snorted quietly into his hand and the queen sighed again, "All right, they were hardly the most hearty of stock, I'll admit, but that's no reason for you scaring them away like that.  I'll have to be the one to reassure them later.  Those were powerful men, whom you may one day have to rule." 
"Good, the sooner the better, Mother, I've got some changes that need to be made.  Immediately." 
Ahamo frowned at DG, sparing a concerned glance with Azkadellia, who had trailed in behind her sister at a far more sedate pace, "What's wrong, daughter?" 
"Oh don't you daughter me.  I risked life and limb, and so did my friends!  So why is it I now found out we can't live our lives our own way?" 
"Oh, DG, don't be foolish, you are a princess, of course you will never live an ordinary life.  That's hardly unexpected..." 
"I don't mean that, Mother, I mean why can't I, or any of my friends, marry the people we wish?" 
The queen frowned, "Whatever do you mean?  Our laws are very fair, any adult may marry, unless there is some reason, such as a mental impairment, which would impede their ability to give consent." 
DG's eyes narrowed, "So then, if I wanted to marry Cain, you'd be alright with that?" 
The Queen's smile flashed brightly and she quickly stood up, clapping her hands, "Oh DG, that would be wonderful!  Your father and I had so hoped--" 
DG snapped a hand up, palm out to silence her mother before she could continue, "And if I wanted to marry someone else?  Like, perhaps Raw?  You'd be alright with that too?" 
"At the same time?" Her father's eye's widened. 
"No, not at the same time." DG rolled her eyes, "I mean, if I wanted to marry Raw instead of Cain, you'd have absolutely no problems with that?" 
The light of hope fell from her mother's face as she glided back into her throne, "Well, I mean, I suppose, it's not illegal for you to marry him.  You wouldn't be able to have children of course, but you could always adopt, I suppose." 
DG opened her mouth to ask, but her father quickly interrupted with an explanatory, "The genetics that give his people The Sight also make them just different enough that you would not actually be able to conceive a child with any member of Raw's people.  And it'd be too dangerous to try to influence an unborn child with magic." 
"Okay." DG nodded, "Okay, I can accept that, so then if I didn't want to marry either of them--" 
"Oh for goodness sakes, child, who do you want to marry?" her mother snapped, almost harshly, before catching herself and taking a deep breath to regain her regal composure. 
"Then what would you say," DG continued, with an eye roll to her mother, "If I wanted to marry someone else?  Someone like, say, Jenniva, for instance?" 
"Jenniva?  Who in the name of all the Gales is Jenniva?" 
Ahamo frowned, thinking hard, "Was...was she one of Jeb's fighters?" 
DG nodded, "Yah, smart girl, about my age?" she raised a hand to a few inches below the top of her own head, "About yea tall, dark hair?" 
The queen paled, letting herself fall fully against the throat's back, her fingers raised to the spot between her eyes, "Oh, DG, why would you ask something like that?" 
"So you would have a problem with that?" 
"Of course I would!" Her mother snapped, lowering her hand long enough to shoot a disapproving glare at her child before raising her fingers again to cover her eyes. 
"DG, I tried to tell you," Azkadellia rested a hand on her sister's shoulder, finally speaking up again from a step behind. 
"Darling," her father stepped down off he dais slowly, "Are you trying to tell us you wish to marry one of Jeb Cain's men?  Ah, I mean, one of Jeb's fighters?" 
DG sighed, "No, I just want to know why I couldn't?" 
"Because it's against the laws, that's why." Her mother said, her fingers still covering her soft, lavender eyes. 
"That's exactly my point!  Why is it against the law?  That's ridiculous?" 
"Now DG, is it really all that surprising?  I, I don't understand why you are so shocked, things are no different back on Earth." 
"Yes! They are!" DG snapped, so loud and so harsh that it caused her father to freeze where he was, one hand raised mid-gesture. 
"Homosexuality hasn't been illegal in the states in a long time.  You've been away for a long time.  I mean, yah, sure, it's not exactly welcomed everywhere, and they can't get married everywhere yet, but that's changing!  And it hasn't been illegal in a long time, the last state dropped those laws back in the late 90's.  They can get married some places in the US now, or have civil unions, and a lot of countries are doing the same.  Canada has supported gay marriage for years, and it hasn't self destructed." 
"Your Majesties?  Is everything alright?" 
The whole royal family turned to look towards the doors, only to find Cain and Glitch standing in the still open doorways, half a troop of guards behind them, all well armed, "We were told that someone had tried to attack you, your majesty?" Cain asked, one eyebrow raised high and a questioning look sent to DG. 
The queen sighed, "No, no, we are fine.  DG just paid an unexpected visit and I'm afraid our meeting was not yet finished when she did so." The queen waved a hand gracefully towards the guards, "You will not be needed." 
DG tried to give her friends an reassuring look and ask them to stay, all without saying a word, but turned back to her parents before she could be sure they got the message.  She felt she was on a roll and didn't want to lose her momentum. "You haven't answered me yet, why couldn't I marry whomever I wanted?  Why would you have so many problems with me marring a woman, but not with me marring someone like Raw?" 
"You want to marry Raw?" Glitch asked, "Does Raw know?  Because I think he has his eye on someone else, DG, I'm sorry."  DG turned to look at her friend, and found his expression so apologetic for the news that she had to give into a brief laugh. 
"No, Glitch, I don't want to marry Raw, I'm just trying to make a point." 
"Oh good.  I don't think Raw was very into the idea." He turned to confide in Cain, "He does so want children of his own, you know."  Cain sighed and turned to quietly close the doors behind him, reaching out with one arm to try to snag Glitch and pull him out as well, but DG stopped him, "Actually, could you two stay?  Please?" 
"DG, I really don't think that's a good idea."  Azkadellia put her hand back onto her sister's arm, squeezing her elbow meaningfully this time. 
"I'm confused." Glitch looked from DG to Cain to Azkadellia, back to DG, before finally leaning his top half as far to the left as he could without toppling over in an attempt to look around Ahamo to the queen, "Who does DG want to marry?" 
Ahamo chose to ignore his wife's oldest friend and returned his attention to his youngest daughter, "DG, the laws here are different, you have to understand that." 
"Yes, I do know that, I just don't understand why this law is?  I mean, it's so backwards, it's!" 
"But it's the law." The queen snapped.  Then quickly snapped her jaw shut again, once again trying to regain her composure.  She was not used to it slipping so easily as this. 
"But you're the queen!  You can change the law!" 
"But why should I?  It's a perfectly good law which has kept our society running smoothly for centuries." 
"What?  Do you honestly believe that the O.Z. would fall if gays could get married?  'Oh no, run for the hills, that guy is getting a blow job from his husband!  Everybody make a brake for it before we all get cooties!'" 
"Who's getting a--" Glitch caught himself before he could repeat the word in front of the queen, "A husband?" he corrected himself quickly. 
"If DG gets her way, anybody who wants one," Azkadellia sighed. 
"Really?"  The sound of pure and giddy hope drew the eyes of everyone in the room, except for Cain who had quickly buried his eyes beneath the palm of his hand. 
"Ambrose!"  The Queen's gasp shocked Glitch back out of his happiness 
Glitch blinked slowly at the shocked and clearly appalled queen, "Yes?" he looked around, wholly confused as to what he'd said wrong.  It was finally his looking to Cain, who still had his head buried, that he finally asked quietly, "I forgot something I was supposed to know, didn't I?" 
The voice which just seconds ago had been so filled with hope, was now buried in sadness, and DG rushed over to give her friend a hug, "Yah, ya did.  But you shouldn't have had to remember that one." 
Glitch blinked, though about that, and then decided, "Good?" 
DG turned back to her mother, "You've known Glitch...Ambrose for years, he stood by you and protected you and fought for you even when your most trusted advisers and generals abandoned you for Azkadellia."  She paused for a moment to give her sister a quick look of "Not your fault" before looking back to their mother, "Are you telling me that you no longer trust him, now that you know he likes men?" 
Glitch blinked, "When did she find that out?  ...Oh...." His eyes widened,  "Ooh.  Oh...hell." He signed. 
Cain shook his head and finally stepped away from the door and came to stand next to his friend, throwing his shoulders back and looking every inch the war hero he was, "It's alright, Glitch.  Things were bound to come out eventually." 
The Queen's eyes widened again, "Officer Cain?" 
"Oh, you didn't have to do that!" Glitch looked appalled, "They didn't know about
Cain shook his head and dropped a large, scarred hand on Glitch's shoulder, "It's okay, Zipper Head, I'm not about to let you Out Brave me on this one." he smiled. "If they know about you, they know about me."  The smile Glitch gave him for that was nearly blinding, matched only, perhaps, by DG's. 
"Oh, now this really is too much." the queen sighed, raising her fingertips to her forehead again. "Ambrose." she whispered to herself. 
DG looked back to her father, hoping to gain some understanding on his opinion.  Ahamo looked around the room and then long and hard at his youngest daughter before finally asking, "The laws really have changed back on Earth?" 
DG's smile widened again, and she nodded, "They really have.  You've been away a long time.  The marriage laws are changing every day, too, people think California will have the right to marry by the end of the year, even." 
Ahamo nodded, before looking to his eldest daughter, "And what do you think?  You'll be the next to rule after your mother steps down, you're the one who'll have to deal with this the longest." 
Azkadellia frowned and walked slowly over to the large window behind her mother.  She looked out quietly for a time, the rest of the room waiting patiently as she pondered the matter with all the due consideration of a future queen.  Finally, after long moments of stillness throughout the room, she took a deep breath and slowly released it.  When she spoke, she didn't look away from the window. "I think I caused this realm a lot of pain and hardship, but they always endured.  I made so many mistakes, and caused so much destruction...  When I do take the crown again, if the people will even have me, which I don't know yet, but if they do, I only hope I'll have learned enough not to repeat any of those same mistakes." 
She finally did turn back to the room and found that even her mother was looking at her now, waiting to hear what she said next. "Not all the mistakes made were the Witch's.  She was evil, and most of the ideas came from her, but I was the one who executed them, who put her ideas into action.  She wanted to make things illegal, but I was the one who had people rounded up and thrown into cells and tin suits.  I encouraged people like Zero into being cruel, and rewarded their ingenuity in punishment and pain, as long as it brought me more power. 
"But through it all, people found what happiness they could.  And some people fought harder then any others in our world's history to make things right." She looked at Cain and Glitch, now standing side by side, touching from shoulder to hip, hands curled together behind their backs, and smiled at them, "The people of this world deserve what happiness they can find.  If these two can find in it their hearts to forgive me, then I don't see how I could stand in the way of that happiness." She looked back to her mother, "I don't see how any of us can.  Or that we should try to." 
The queen heaved a great sigh, and shook her head, "But that changes nothing, the laws stand.  You were able to make those changes because of the sort of power you held, the kind of power born of not caring about the cost to you or anyone else.  But that is not the rule we hold today, nor shall it ever be again.  Laws can not be changed simply because one wishes, not in a fair and just system." 
DG shook her head, "But there has to be a way!" 
Ahamo sighed, "Your mother is right, even if she were to desire the laws changed, it would require the consensus of the whole council, and all our dignitaries.  Just making the proposal would take months, and would likely never be passed." 
"But surely there are ways around that, the laws were changed after Mother returned." 
"The laws were changed back," her father corrected. 
DG opened her mouth again, but this time it was Azkadellia who interrupted her, moving to now stand directly behind her mother, resting a hand gently on the tall back of the throne, "Mother, you offered a reward to everyone who fought to free us, including Glitch and Cain, did you not?" 
The Queen nodded, "Of course.  Ambrose asked for his brain to be reinstalled and Cain asked for his son to be taken care of and a position within the castle guards, should he ask for one." 
DG snapped her fingers, catching on, "And you said that both those things would have be done anyhow, they were hardly worthy tokens of appreciation!  But they both refused to ask for anything else!" 
Cain frowned, "Now I"m confused..." 
Glitch, however, caught on more quickly, "She means we both still have our tokens of thanks from the crown.  We can ask for the laws to be changed.  And it's a token of royal thanks, the crown can not refuse any token that dose not ask for the life or virtue of another person to be stolen!"  Glitch spoke quickly, a little bit of Ambrose's knowledge slipping through. "She means that we can ask to be together, in front of everyone!" 
The room held their breaths, all eyes on Cain and Glitch.  Finally, when Cain didn't immediately respond, Glitch tilted his head forward, "I mean...if that is what we want..."  He blinked, "Is that what we want?  Cain?" 
Cain blinked slowly, looking at Glitch carefully, and then looking about the room, taking in everyone watching him, waiting for his response that would either change a kingdom, or brake a heart.  He knew, without a doubt in him, that Glitch would never hate him for his answer, they had spoken of how much they both had to lose should anyone discover their secret, and they had even spoken long about Cain's fears of loosing his son again, should Jeb find out whom he had turned to after accepting his wife's death.  But they had never once discussed what they might do might do should they be asked if they wanted people to discover their secret, it had simply never been an option. 
Until now.  
No matter what, Glitch would love him, would accept his decision. 
Glitch was just starting to look confused and sad (and possibly a little confused about why he was sad, it was sometimes hard to tell when his memory was giving him problems when he wasn't actually speaking) and DG was looking a little disappointed in him, before Cain made his decision. 
"Your Majesty, I'd like to request a Token."
~~~~~~~~ Back to Tin Man ~~~~~~~~

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