While this is not my first attempt at fan fiction it is my first time playing in the Tin Man universe. So I hope you will indulge me as I journey down the yellow brick road with a few of my favorite characters.

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The Promise

Hot water rushed into the ornate tub causing steam to fill the large bathroom. Glancing at the rising water Wyatt Cain figured he had a few more minutes and turned his attention back to his reflection in the mirror. Carefully he stroked the razor along his face. Several more strokes and he checked his handiwork. "Not bad." He mused, using the towel draped around his neck to wipe away the last of the shaving cream.

Turning his attention once more to the tub he turned off the water and tested the temperature with one hand. Barely below scolding, just the way he liked it. Truth was he preferred showers but sometimes a good hot bath soaked out the arches of a long day. And by Ozma it had been a long day, hell it had been a long six days. Had it only been six days since he escaped the suit? It seemed like a lifetime, shrugging off the thought he struggled to remember when he had taken a bath last, nothing would come to mind. Slipping out of his shirt he tossed the soiled garment aside, maybe later he could find someone to mend the hole and wash out the blood, or he could just burn it and buy a new one. Removing the rest of his clothes he carefully stepped over the edge of the tub, first one foot than the other. Gingerly he lowered himself into the steaming water, careful not to put to much pressure on his right shoulder. Raw had done a nice job of healing it but it was still a little tender under pressure. Reaching the bottom he relaxed with a satisfied sigh. Pulling a wash cloth from the edge of the tub he soaked it than wring out the water, leaning back he spread the cloth over his face and rested his arms along the tubs edge. Had one been able to see under the cloth they would have found a large smile spread over the tin man's face.

After the witch's defeat they had spent the rest of the day and most of the night securing the tower and restoring some form of order to the area. Finally he had been able to convince DeeGee and the others to get some much needed rest. They were all running on adrenaline and he knew it was only a matter of time before someone crashed. With some resistance DeeGee had agreed to lay down and inspite of her protests she was sleeping soundly before her head had dented the pillow. Convinced she was out for the night Cain posted a guard at her door and retried to the room across from hers for some much needed rest. Pushing away all thoughts from the last few days he allowed his mind and body to rest.

From somewhere beyond the darkness he heard a thumping noise. He moved and water stirred around him, bolting upright the cloth fell from his face. The bright overhead light stung his eyes and he rubbed at them. The water was lukewarm and he wondered how long he had been asleep. From the bedroom he heard the thumping again and realized someone was knocking at the door. Raising from the tub he wrapped a towel around his waist, tying it off on one side. "Coming!" he called to the visitor. Before stepping into the bedroom he drew the pistol from its holster hanging by the tub.

Padding across the cool stone floor he left wet footprints in his wake. Reaching the door he held the pistol behind his back while turning the knob. Opening the door he was not ready for the person waiting for him. "Princess." He managed to say. "What…is everything alright?"

She noticed that his eyes looked pass her to her sister's door she also arched a brow at his lack of attire.

From behind her the guard turned away trying to hide a grin. Cain made a mental note to threaten him with some form of hideous torture if he told a soul about this.

"Yes, Mr. Cain everything is fine. I didn't mean to disturb you." Her eyes darted to the towel and for a moment she felt a strange flush of heat rush through her body.

Cain feel a blush crawl from his toes to the top of his head as the corners of her mouth turned up slightly. "Is there something I can do for you?"

Forcing herself to maintain eye contact Azkadellia raised her chin slightly. "As a matter of fact, there is. Perhaps I should come be back later."

"No, no just give me a minute." He motioned her in with his free hand and light flashed off gun steel.

"Are you expecting trouble?"

"Always." He replied, closing the door behind her. "If you'll give me just a minute I'll make myself a little more presentable."

She nodded. "Of course."

As he padded off to the bathroom she could not resist watching the gentle sway of his buttocks under the towel. She wondered if her sister would be jealous that she had missed seeing this side of her Tin Man. The private joke was immediately crushed as she felt a chill run through her, the witch had not allowed anything or anyone to distract and it felt strange not to have the familiar punishment for such thoughts.

"Make yourself comfort." Cain called from the bathroom.

Looking around the room the only furniture was the bed, desk and chair and a foot stool near the bed. She decided standing made her comfortable.

Returning Cain wore pants, but the suspenders hung loose at the waist and he was pulling on the soiled shirt from earlier. The garment was immediately soaked by bath water and clung to him tightly.

A fact that was not lost on Azkadellia, again she felt the flush rush through her and she wondered if it was Cain or if the slight of any man would have the same affect.

"So what did you want to talk about?"

Shaking away the distracting thoughts she focused on his eyes. "Yes, I needed to ask something of you, a favor if you will."

"A favor? From me?"

"Yes."

"Couldn't this have waited till morning?"

"No, it couldn't. What I have to say is for your ears only and since you and DeeGee are joined at the hip most of the time, it makes a private conversation difficult."

Cain shifted his weight not liking the direction the conversation was taking. "What exactly is it that you want?"

Moving closer to the bed, Azkadellia began slowly tracing her fingertips along the craved post. "What do you know about magic, Mr. Cain?"

"Enough to steer clear of it when I can."

A smiled tugged at her lips but she did not meet his gaze. "That is a wise attitude Mr. Cain. Unfortunately some of us are not able to 'steer clear' of it. When I was a child I loved magic, to raise a hand and bring a paper doll to life was thrilling. The way it felt coursing through my body was incredible. But the best was when DeeGee and I shared magic, I could feel her magic flowing through me and it was warm and happy and I felt so safe…and loved." She paused lost in a long forgotten memory.

Cain watched her for a moment, dressed in a night gown and robe with her long, dark hair cascading down her back, she no longer looked like the feared dicator of the O.Z. Instead she looked small, almost fragile, pushing away the thought he spoke. "I'm afraid I don't see how this involves me."

Shaking off her memories Azkadellia straightened and faced him. "After the witch, things changed, I changed. Once the witch entered me her magic flowed through me as DeeGee's had. But hers was cold and angry, there was so much…hate. Hate for everything and everyone. For fifteen annuals I have lived with that hate and until today I thought I would live with it for the rest of my life." Closing her eyes she took a moment to contain the emotions she had fought against for so long. Cain watched and waited allowing her the time she needed.

Opening her eyes she met his gaze again and he could see she had found control.

"I know the witch is dead, but her magic still lingers in me."

Cain felt his blood run cold and he cursed himself for leaving the pistol in the bathroom.

"Don't worry Mr. Cain, you don't need your gun."

For a moment he wondered if she had gained to power to read minds.

"But your reaction has only convinced me that you are the only person I can trust to keep this promise."

"So what is the promise?"

"I want you to promise me that if the witch has darkened my soul beyond repair and I slip back into the ways of the sorceress that you will stop me."

Cain laughed softly. "Well, your Highness, I don't think that will be a problem. I'm sure everyone will be ready to do whatever it takes to stop you."

"No, not everyone and not everything."

"I'm not sure I follow you."

"If something happens I want you to kill me."

Cain was vaguely aware that his jaw was open, yet he could do nothing to close it. "Kill you." He finally managed to whisper.

"Yes. No one had the courage to take that step before and by the time they did it was too late." She turned back to the bedpost. "I have to make sure steps are taken to prevent anyone else being hurt."

"Princess…Azkadellia that's a serious promise, I don't know if I can…"

"You have to!" She turned on him so quickly, he stepped back. "Please, if not for me then do it for DeeGee. You must protect her at all cost."

The Mystic Man's words echoed in his mind. "Protect her."

"Your sister would never let me or anyone else hurt you much less kill you."

"Then protect her from herself. We both know I'm right. Think of the souls that could have been saved if someone had stopped me fifteen annuals ago."

Cain struggled for some reason, some argument against her, but he knew there wasn't one. "Alright, I promise."

Tears welled in her eyes as she gasped, a smile spread over her face and reached her eyes for the first time in many annuals. "Thank you." She closed the distance between them in less than two steps taking his hand. "Thank you."

For a moment he thought she might hug him. But he could see her reining in the emotions and he felt a twinge of sadness for her. She turned to leave, but he held her hand firm. Arching an eyebrow she met his gaze and waited.

"Azkadellia, I will do what you have asked if it comes to it. But, I want your promise that you will do everything in your power to make sure it never happens. DeeGee loves you and to lose you would tear out her soul. Promise me you won't cause her that kind of pain."

A tear slipped down Azkadellia's pale cheek and she smiled. "I promise…Wyatt."

Satisfied Cain released her hand and she moved to the door. Pausing in the doorway she turned to him. "Thank you."

Cain nodded and she disappeared closing the door behind her. Staring at the door Cain's mind wandered through the oaths he had made during his life and where they had lead him. Closing his eyes offered a silent pray to Ozma that he would never have to fulfill the one to the eldest Princess of the House of Gale.

The End