CAMERA OBSCURA

She'd been sitting sketching the view from the Finaqua gazebo on a calm, still day, Cain sat a couple of feet from her, when a soft rumble in the distance caused them both to look over to their left. The sky had suddenly darkened, and DG sighed, knowing she wouldn't have long to do whatever she could to fill in the details of her sketch before they'd have to go back to the palace.

"Better finish up, Princess. It looks like it's heading this way fast," Cain spoke up. He sounded reluctant to interrupt the peace that had settled over the two of them, and DG allowed a small smile to grace her lips, knowing he appreciated the times they spent in companionable silence, away from the bustle of palace life, more than he let on.

"Just five more minutes, Cain."

Cain narrowed his eyes at the sky, calculating. "Three, and it's a deal."

She chuckled, her charcoal making long sweeps across the page as she tried to capture the forms of the trees lining one side of the lake. Keeping an eye on the approaching storm, she added detail until she was satisfied she had the basics down on paper and could come back another time with paints.

Cain clearing his throat intruded her thoughts and she huffed, giving up. "That wasn't three minutes, Cain."

"Near enough," he shot back, sounding amused. "Come on, if we don't hurry we'll be caught in the rain."

She stood, allowing him to help her collect her art equipment and she shot another glance at the darkening sky when another rumble sounded, this time much closer. The rain was already visible about a mile away, blurring the sky and making the landscape look as if someone had taken a brush and smudged the colours. DG sighed softly. "I wish I had a camera."

Cain raised an eyebrow, catching her elbow in an attempt to hurry her as he started to move. "We'll have to run if we want to get back in time. Then you can wish all you like." He paused. "What's a camera?"

DG giggled and moved ahead of him, feeling the first light spots of rain. "Never mind!"

He started to press the question, wanting to know a little more about the Other Side, but the raindrops were getting heavier and falling more frequently. He grabbed DG's hand, twining their fingers together, and started to run towards the palace entrance. Her laughter mingled with the sound of the rain on the grass and foliage around them.

By the time they reached the palace, they were soaked through, breathless and laughing, the camera comment forgotten.

"Sorry 'bout your drawing, Princess."

DG looked over her shoulder at the sound of Cain's voice, spotting the rumpled, black mess of the page she'd been working on down at the gazebo held lightly in his hand. She shrugged lightly. "Oh well. I'll just have to start another, I guess."

"DG talented. Should sell work," Raw commented as Cain set the sketchpad down on a low table and sat in one of the comfy chairs across from DG. She'd requested that one day a week she be allowed to do whatever she liked, and it had soon become a day for the four friends to take some time to talk, go out exploring or just sit and enjoy each other's company. When Glitch and Raw had to fulfil their advisory positions on one of those days, they always made sure they could spare some time in the evenings.

"I don't think so, Raw." She sent him a smile. "I'm not that good. Plus it takes me too long to paint one picture, let alone enough to sell." She glanced out the window at the rain, then down to the ruined drawing. "I just wish I could photograph the scenes and people so I can work on the pictures after I've left them. I'd do anything for a camera."

Cain looked up from watching Glitch and Raw's complicated game of Conquer – something DG had likened to a game called 'chess'. "You mentioned a camera before. What is it?"

She let the book she'd been reading snap shut in her lap and pulled a thoughtful face whilst she decided how to describe it. "It's a device for capturing images of things. A snapshot of a moment in time, preserved on paper."

"Oh, it sounds like a T.D.L.C.S.D.!" Glitch looked up from moving one of his game pieces across the board in front of him.

"What's that?"

"A Two-Dimensional Light Capture and Storage Device. I invented that, too." He beamed proudly at her, and the smile she sent back lit up her face.

"Really? Have you got one here?"

"I might have some components in my lab – we can put one together if you'd like?"

The delighted squeal she let out startled Raw enough to knock over his piece and almost send the board flying.

The lab usually looked like some sort of bomb had hit it – Glitch somehow knowing exactly where things were in amongst the mess – but this time it was beyond chaotic. When Cain had finished some paperwork for the Queen he'd headed up to Glitch's workspace, knowing DG and the reinstated advisor and inventor were working on this camera device. He'd been expecting some mess – after all, how can you invent without things to hand? – but the sight of two huddled figures in the middle of the floor, surrounded by chemicals, machinery and damaged-looking metal made him stop dead.

"What happened here?"

At the sound of his voice, DG looked up and a smile crept over her face. "Hi, Cain!"

He raised an eyebrow at the sight of her, her hair pulled back into a messy bun, revealing a face that was blackened with soot and Ozma-knew what else. "Are you all right?"

She paused, looking bemused. "We're fine, why?" Glitch looked up then, showing a face that was as black and dirty as his companion's, his teeth whiter than ever as he grinned and went back to work. Cain raised a hand and indicated at her face.

"You...ah...you have something on your face." He moved further into the room, noting that the soot spread out in a circle around the two. Apparently they or whatever they'd been working on was the source. DG grabbed a piece of broken mirror near her and scrutinised her reflection.

"Oh, that. Glitch put the wrong chemicals together, and they sort of reacted badly. No biggie." Cain rolled his eyes at that. A 'no biggie' from DG usually meant something extremely dangerous had happened and she'd come out unscathed. He'd prefer it if the 'no biggie' situation had been avoided in the first place.

"Just be careful." He reached out without thinking, and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, rubbing his thumb through the soot on her face. She scrunched up her nose, watching him silently, one hand instinctively coming up to rest against his. Glitch, oblivious to the private moment, mumbled something and held a hand out in expectation, indicating DG needed to pass him a tool. The moment interrupted, she blushed and looked away, finding what the inventor needed. Cain cleared his throat and found a chair near them, pushing off the equipment and dusting it down before settling into it.

"I think we're nearly there, Doll!" Glitch stood suddenly, reached out and grabbed some chemicals, and started a complex series of measuring and mixing. Cain slid his chair back a few inches, checked for the edge of the soot and slid back a few more. Glitch didn't notice, and continued to prepare the chemicals for instant development, nodding to himself. "All right, I think we can test it now. We'll add the chemicals after, just to make sure."

Suddenly bouncy, DG picked up the large box-like tool and aimed the viewfinder at Cain.

The first picture taken by DG was of a certain stoic Tin Man looking for all the world as if he were about to be shot by the strange box aimed at him.

The second was of Glitch, who had fallen on his rear, laughing at the image of the first.

Author's Note: This will be a two-parter, I just wanted to see the feedback for this part. Not particularly happy with it, but it's the first fic I've done for about 6 months and the plot bunny needed to be captured!