Rating: A big fat R

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em

Pairing: Cain/DG – please do I write anything else

Challenge – Red – prompt – Paint brush with red paint.

Survival With Grace And Power

By Lattelady

Ch 1 - Broken People

DG dabbed her brush into the crimson paint on her palette. She glared at the bristles, wondering what took them so long to fill. Her mood called for a particular texture and it required thick globs, rather than delicate touches. The artist in her rebelled at the white knuckled grip she had on the slim brush, but it was necessary in order to steady her hand as she stabbed viciously at the canvas. Each movement left swollen streaks of red slashing through back and gray. Her breathing quickened as her strokes sped up.

A rough knock on her door made her jump. It brought her back into the moment and made her look closely at her painting. It was swirls of darkness that ran red with blood. A careful reproduction of one of her nightmares, one of the many that robbed her of sleep; ones she couldn't tell anyone about, even Wyatt Cain, despite how close they'd become.

In response to the insistent knocking, she called to her inner light and erased the canvas. She had no wish for others to see what she was doing and guess her hidden turmoil. Things were enough of a mess without her adding to it. Azkadellia was hardly functional. Her body exhausted and her spirit broken. The Queen was doing little better. DG suspected that without Ahamo's help, her mother would be bedridden as well. A lot of running the Queendom had fallen on the least experienced in the family. Deeg thanked whatever gods there were on this side of the rainbow for the help she received from her Tin Man, Glitch and Raw. Between the four of them, they were able to keep things functioning.

"Princess, open up. I need your help." Jeb Cain called from the hall. Logic told him she was the only person who would know what to do. Emotionally he rebelled against it. But he believed he'd abandoned his father once and he wasn't about to do it again, even if it meant going to this woman for assistance.

"Hi, I thought maybe it was your dad. We were supposed to meet for a late supper." She tried to smile when she opened her door, but her mind was still on the mess she'd created with paints. It had been easily cleaned up; she only wished that the mess it represented was as simple.

"Something is wrong with him." The words rushed out of the boy's mouth. "He won't let anyone in."

"Where is he?" She rushed into the hall, panic lacing her words.

"In his room, he's been there ever since our meeting ended."

When she knocked on Cain's door, it was met with silence. "Come on Tin Man, open up, it's me." She tried one more time with no success.

"What happened, Jeb?" She knew Wyatt had been fine most of the day; they'd attended three of the same meeting. He'd been his usual self. The last time they spoke they'd planned to spend the evening together, like they always did. It appeared that both of them had lost track of time, she with her painting and he with…whatever he was doing, because it was long past supper.

"The troops he sent out to bring Zero back, reported in. The bastard's dead, has been for weeks. The healer who checked the body said it was trauma from the suit. She said it wasn't an uncommon occurrence." He gritted his teeth at how lucky the man had been. He'd been granted an easy death.

Anything that had to do with metal suits or Zero, were touchy subjects with her Tin Man. Deeg felt panic welling up inside of her and knocked again. This time her effort was greeted with something smashing against the wood from the other side and the tinkle of breaking glass as it hit marble flooring.

"Thank you, Jeb. I know it wasn't easy for you to come to me." She nibbled her lip, wanting to send him on his way. He didn't need to witness anymore outbursts from his dad. "I'm going in and I…I'll do what can. He's already been hurt enough." When she tried the handle, it wouldn't budge.

"Princess, he's in a foul mood." Jeb rolled his eyes. The breaking glass had made that obvious, but he needed her to know it was deeper than simple temper. "I'm not sure why…I thought he'd be relieved that Zero was dead. I know dad was worried that maybe the bastard had gotten free somehow, that he'd come back to haunt us…you really. Dad worries about you something fierce."

"I worry about him, too," she sniffed back tears that clogged her throat. Jeb had given her the gift if his approval by seeking her out and telling her the truth. She hadn't realized how much she needed it, until that very second. "Remember your dad is a complicated man. I've got an idea he was before he was locked in that thing. Those eight annuals only made it worse." She reached over and hugged the boy. "Since I've known him, he's kept it all bottled up. I've never seen him lose control, though he came close when we found your mom's grave. It was bound to happen sooner or later. I can't let him go through it alone."

Jab patted DG awkwardly until she stood back. "Do what ya gotta do. I'll see no one disturbs ya." For the first time he understood the reason his dad was so taken with the young Princess and for the first time it didn't hurt to think of his old man with a woman who wasn't Adora.

"Thanks, but it might be better if you didn't stay." She closed her eyes and concentrated on the lock. Moments later the tumblers clicked and she opened the door.

"Get the hell out!" Cain shouted from across the room. He sat in a chair, leaning back on its rear legs. His right boot was hooked on the table he used as a desk. One large hand was wrapped around an almost full whisky bottle.

"No," she countered. With a firm grip on her emotions, she closed and locked the door behind her.

"If you won't leave under your own powered…" he left the sentence hanging as his foot hit the floor and the bottle banged onto the table. Intent was clear in the way he squinted at her. "Don't make me toss you outta here."

"I'm not leaving!" DG waved her hand over her head and concentrated on the portal behind her. White light shot out of her palm and where the door had been, there was nothing but wall. Short of throwing her out a window he was stuck with the situation.

"Dumb move, Princess," he spoke quietly, radiating anger off every inch of his body as he walked slowly closer. "But then you're known for those. It's one of the reasons you need babysitters." He saw his insult hit the mark when she gasped and hoped it would drive her out before he had to get really mean.

"It's not going to work, Wyatt." DG recovered quickly, watching him close the distance between them. Each measured step a threat, but she wasn't afraid. He was roiling with emotions. Gone was the cool calm Tin Man who had been her constant companion for the last five weeks. Gone was the man who she'd unconsciously reached for and who unconsciously reached for her hundreds of times since that first hug in the bowels of the Tower; that first touch that had opened the floodgates for many more.

"I said get the fuck outta here and leave me in peace." They were inches apart and something slow and dangerous uncoiled deep in his gut. He had to clench his fists at his sides to keep from grabbing her. She was the one clean thing left in his life and he would be damned if he'd take her down with him.

"Don't shut me out," she whispered as her hand caressed his cheek. "Tell me what…"

"No," he gasped. One touch was all it took and he lost his grip on control. His arm sliced roughly through the air until it made contact with hers. He reversed his hand grabbing her and driving her back until she bounced against the wall. "You're playing with fire, Princess," his words shook with desire.

"Burn all you want, but I won't let go of you." It was a promise, not a challenge and she meant to see it through. The second he'd touched her, she'd wrapped her arms around him and she refused to let go. His eyes were molten blue and she couldn't tear her gaze away. His display of brute strength made her catch her breath as wild desire raked every nerve ending in her body. But she still held on.

His mouth covered hers with fierce intent. It was the equivalent of a right hook. He knew somewhere deep inside that was exactly what he'd meant it to be. If he could simply knock her silly with one kiss or scare her away, he would be free. But she fought back and met his invasion of her mouth with one of her own. It was his undoing and the battle raged on. His lips were hot, almost vicious as they moved against hers. She clung to him meeting him kiss for kiss.

DG knew she was lost. He was all that mattered, Wyatt and the insatiable need she felt for him. Her hands dug into his back and worked their way up his arms to his shoulders and neck. She knew they were still fighting against his broken pieces and hers, but she didn't care. His touch wasn't gentle or kind. It was rough, almost brutal, and devastating as hell.

"I want you." His breath was hot on her ear.

"Yes," she gasped and kissed his neck.

"I'll hurt you."

"You'll hurt me more if we don't." her nervous fingers fought with his shirt buttons. When her knuckles grazed skin, he growled and grabbed her shirt. Moments later the sound of material ripping made them both freeze.

"Deeg, you're so beautiful." His hand cupped her breast and he ran his thumb over her hard lace covered nipple. Want seared him like a knife and he knew there was no turning back.

Neither remembered how they made it to his bed, but the path was strewn with torn clothes and popped buttons. He was right, he did hurt her, but she'd never been with a man before, so it couldn't be helped. When the pain was the greatest and she felt his arms shake as if he'd pull back, she whispered, "I love you." It was what he needed to hear. He kissed away the discomfort and continued to fill her.

They lost all sense of time. It was only them, skin against skin, hands reaching, fingers touching and mouths tasting, over and over again. He showed her his love as she whispered the words. He cried out her name as she held onto him so when he broke apart he reformed, fused, a whole man for the first time in eight annuals. When she gasped his name and begged him for more, he took her higher and higher, until she crashed senseless, sure that he was her only anchor in a world filled with strange lights; wild colors; touches so tender they hurt; tastes of him, both salty and sweet; and desire that raged and burned. Hours later they lay sated and exhausted, damp bodies pressed against each other.

"Now, are you going to tell me what started all of this?" DG grinned impishly up at him as he pulled the covers over them.

"Only you would ask that at a time like this." He kissed her and ran his thumb along her cheekbone. "I was too rough with you."

"You were perfect." She kissed him reassuringly. "Back to the original question, what triggered…what finally allowed you to let it all out? You can tell me, it's safe."

Something let go deep in him. He was safe with her and he knew it, had known it since almost the moment they met. "For eight annuals my only goal was to kill Zero. Then you came along and gave me something else to live for." He kissed her shoulder and pulled her tighter against him. "Today when I found out he was dead, it was like the bottom dropped out. He'd been my focus for so long and then it was gone. The only other thing I wanted I thought was impossible. Now I'm not so sure." His eyes twinkled as he stroked her hip.

"We've never talked about what's between us, we were always too busy." They'd known each other less than two months. "We should have made the time. I hate to think that you were caused more pain because we were careless of one another. I meant what I said. I love you." She kissed his chin and had trouble meeting his eyes. "If I only get this one night, or a few nights, I'll take what I can get." Then she gathered every ounce of courage and met his gaze head on. She wanted him to know that she could stand on her own if she had to, but she'd much rather stand with him. Alone she was a shadow of the person she was when he filled in all her dark places.

"Words aren't easy for me, especially ones about feelings." He caressed her cheek. She made him feel whole, he'd known since he woke cold and empty in DiMilo's wagon with Glitch as company, that DG could lead him to his sanity again. If that meant finding his family or simply being with her, he hadn't known then, but he did now.

"Don't say it if you don't mean it." She gently placed two fingers on his full lips.

"I do mean it." He nipped her carefully. "I love you," he whispered. "I'm better at showing those kinds of things than telling 'em."

"I'm not going to argue with the way you showed me, but the words are nice sometimes too." Tears streaked down her face because she couldn't blink them away fast enough.

"It won't always be easy and there will be times we hurt each other. There'll be times we fall and stumble."

"I know, but I'm not going to let go of you." She held him tighter and closer. "How bad can the falls be if we hold on to each other on the way down?"

"Not so bad, besides, we've already done that once and lived to tell of it."

"I love you, Tin Man," she whispered.

"Love you, too, Princess." He snuggled her closer against him and sighed.

The words still echoing in their thoughts, they fell asleep. DG with her head on his shoulder and her body pressed against his. Wyatt content, holding her close, with her legs tangle with his and his face buried in her hair.

That night for the first time, in longer than either could remember, there were no nightmares, not even dreams, just the steady rise and fall of another person's breathing and the pounding of another heart.