Rating: A big fat R
Disclaimer: Still don't own them, but I've got the DVD.
Ch 2 - The Quality Of Mending
When Wyatt Cain learned that Zero had died from trauma and sensory depravation in an Iron Maiden, it took the ex-tin man over two weeks to process the information and realize he didn't hurt anymore. It took him almost another week to realize that Deeg wasn't so lucky in dealing with what haunted her.
Cain's initial reaction to his old enemy's death had been loss of direction. Gnawing anger and need for revenge had kept him alive for eight annuals. With the no one left to hate; no clear focal point for anger that had been building up in him for so long; he was left with directionless fury. DG had seen him through that first dark night and all those that followed. She'd held onto him and refused to let him fall when he'd been lost and alone. With passion and fire they exorcised his demons, replacing his empty spaces with love and desire so profound it exploded around them.
He finally admitted what he'd suspected since Tutor had appeared in Jeb's resistance camp with the news Deeg was in serious trouble: he loved her. His Princess had snuck into his heart with the stealth of a Mobat and the tenacity of a Papay runner and she was there to stay. Acceptance was as simple as moving his belongings into her rooms. It wasn't something they discussed, it simply happened, one item at a time.
Soon his long heavy duster hung beside her smaller short leather jacket. His hat was on her dresser beside her hairbrush. His meager wardrobe was mixed in with the few tops and pants she'd been able to scrounge. The table he'd been using as a desk, sat ten feet away from hers in the large sitting room of their chambers. By the third day, the laundry maid shrugged and put the Tin Man's clean clothes in among the Princess's. She couldn't see wasting her time putting them in his room, when he'd only move them later on.
Though no one talked about the changed relationship between Cain and DG, their friends were very aware of it. Raw smiled and hummed contentedly under his breath. He'd seen the undercurrent of emotions from the beginning.
Azkadellia sighed, with just a touch of envy that her younger sister had found love among the chaos that had become life in the Outer Zone. And she was happy that at least one good thing had come out of all the horrors created by the witch.
Glitch hid a giggle each time he saw them. Even though he was a few marbles short of a full bag, he'd picked up on the passion that had simmered between the two. He may not have always remembered its significance, but he'd known it was there, since they'd jumped off the cliff together.
All Jeb did was shake his head. He was glad to have his father back, though the man had changed. The boy found it easier to be thankful for what he had, than to dwell on the young princess who he believed caused those changes.
Only the Queen and Ahamo had worries. Their youngest daughter would need to ascend to the throne, in the not to distant future, and she couldn't do it with a lover by her side. It didn't matter if the man's presence made DG stronger, or how capably he was at carrying out the duties of the Prince Consort. Unless there was a formal commitment, the relationship would have to end before the Coronation.
During those first few days, Cain's nights were restless and uneasy. He could never remember dreaming but he'd wake-up in the dark, his muscles tense, his heart pounding, and unable to catch his breath. In those troubled midnight hours he'd pull his Princess closer, running calloused fingers over silky skin until she moaned. Even half asleep, she willing moved against him, her body responding to his slightest touch.
With hands that shook he fought to hold back his own desires long enough to give her time to adjust, but no matter how hard he tried to be gentle, he knew he wasn't. His mouth claimed hers, insistent, exacting and scorching as his tongue plunged and explored, in blatant imitation of what he really needed. He stroked, probed and demanded, until she was writhing beneath him, hardly awake, but as blinded by passion as he was. With a mutual gasp he covered her body with his.
In a matter of minutes DG went from sound sleep to wanton loss of control, all for him, all for her Tin Man. It was what he needed and so did she. "Love you!" she whispered and demanded, "More!" She arched against him, offering him velvet damp heat and a steady heart to guide him as he burned away his past.
"I love you," he muttered as he nipped her right nipple and arched hard and fast into her. "Need you!" his voice hoarse with desire.
His whispered words, his skin against hers, the way he knew exactly when and where to touch her, drove her out of her mind. She was caught in the travel storm that was Wyatt Cain as he made her body soar and plunge, over and over again. It was what they both needed, the strong, almost brutal physical representation of their feelings. It burned away doubts, and fears leaving them shaken and bound closer together than either thought possible.
The days turned into weeks and DG, with Cain's help, was the most visible member of the Royal Family. In reality they were running the government with help from Raw and Glitch. All actions were taken in Lavender Eye's name and with her full authority. The Queen was still too weak from her imprisonment to carry out the physical duties of the office and there was much that needed to be done if she was to remain in power.
The land had been ravished and the people exhausted from fighting for too long. Wyatt believed it was probably the only reason some upstart noble hadn't tried to wrestle control from the House of Gale. The Zone was in trouble, if they didn't come up with a source of food soon, there would be widespread famine. The Witch had taken and taken from the people and given only death and destruction back. The spontaneous healing of the land that had happened when the Sorceress was defeated wasn't enough. Food was needed now. The Crown had to solve the problem.
Each night the Tin Man and his Princess fell into bed exhausted, but not too exhausted for each other. He taught her the gentle pleasures of the body. When he woke shaking with night terrors, he reached for her. Not much was gentle about those pleasures, but they were equally important. They were open and accepting of needs too strong to be spoken of even in the dark. Deeg provided a safe haven where a damaged man burned away his sharp edges and begin to soldered together broken pieces of his soul.
After spending almost two weeks like that, Cain's dreams began to subside. He discovered that each morning he hurt a little less. Grief and guilt that had settled in his chest when Longcoats rode into his yard, eight annuals earlier, scarred over. The mark it left behind would always be there, but it was no longer debilitating.
It took him another few days to realize his Princess was in as much trouble, as he had been and it caught her, as much by surprise, as it did him.
He would always remember that day because it was when they found the key to survival for thousands of people and that night because it was the beginning of the final healing for both of them.
Azkadellia had told them that there were five huge storage facilities hidden throughout the Zone, but she didn't know their locations. Az knew there was a map that would give them the information they sought and she was the only one who knew what it looked like. It took all the courage she possessed, but she helped Cain and her younger sister search the rooms previously occupied by the Witch.
In the end it was Glitch who found it. He and Raw had joined the search in the last hour. "Are those what you were looking for?"
"Wait don't touch it!" Deeg called out as he reached into a drawer that appeared to be nothing more than a decretive panel in the wall. "Let me check it for magic." She ran her hand back and forth an inch over the odd green paper.
"Be careful," Az could hear fear in her words and hoped the others couldn't.
"Careful is my middle name." DG grinned at her sister. "Just ask Cain, he'll tell you."
"Yeah and impulsive behavior is mine." His brow rose and he smirked at her.
"Well you're learning." Deeg's eyes sparkled as she handed him the map. Her serious Tin Man did have his spontaneous moments, though they always seemed to happen in the middle of the night.
"Is that what we were looking for?" Az shook her head at their teasing, though she was sure it was what kept those two going. They always seemed to be where they were needed most, no matter when it was or how hard the task.
"They are indeed. Thank you very much for your help, Princess Azkadellia." Wyatt bowed slightly before he strode out of the room.
After a quick conference with the Queen and Prince Consort, it was decided that Cain would ride out early the next morning with some carefully selected troops. Securing the supplies had to be handled quickly and quietly. It was of the utmost importance that they do everything in their power to get them to the people as quickly and fairly as possible.
"I should really go with you tomorrow. I can check to be sure the Witch didn't leave the place booby-trapped with magic." DG snuggled against her Tin Man's side. They were tired, naked and flushed from making love.
"Booby-trapped brings to mind all sorts of interesting things," his voice was filled with laughter at what he knew to be an odd Other Side expression. He cupped her right breast and lazily ran his thumb across her nipple.
"Wyatt, stop that."
"That's not what you were saying to me half an hour ago." He knew she was worried about him but the job had to be done.
"Be serious," she admonished. "I hate that you're going without me. What if something happens? What if….?"
"Hush, Babe." He pulled her closer and ran his hands up and down her back. It was a soothing gesture he'd used in the past. "Jeb and a group of his most trusted resistance fighters will be with me, along with Raw and your dad. Raw can sense magic and Ahamo will be able to tell if what the Viewer is seeing is a trap or residual traces of old spells."
That was the first night DG woke reaching blindly for Cain. She was panicked, unsure of where she was, and a scream only seconds away.
He was brought out of a sound sleep by soft hands running over the contour of his body, seeking sanctuary in release, as they moved over his skin. Her lips teased and teeth nipped him until he lost all sense of propriety.
"You're driving me wild," he growled. He awoke more out of control than when he'd been the initiator. Her surprise attack grabbed his senses and had him fighting back.
"Good!" She swirled her tongue in his ear, as her hand moved lower on his body. "I want you!" she hissed.
"Not like this, let me make love to you," he countered and gently stroked her. She deserved more than the fierce need that had roared through his sleep as her hands moved over him.
"No," she cried. "I need you. Make the pain go away, burn it away."
He froze when he realized what was happening to her. She'd awakened him, as he'd been doing to her. Demons were eating her alive and she was seeking the only cure she knew: passion. In one quick movement he rolled her beneath him and slid tenderly into her.
"Harder," she gasped, sounding almost feral. She reached down to tease the sensitive spot on his right hip, but before she could touch him, he gripped her wrists and pinned them above her head with one hand.
"Easy, Deeg," his voice was warm honey pouring over her haze of desire. He'd left more than one finger mark on her during those nights he'd been fighting his demons and hated the thought of it happening again. If she wasn't going to let him be gentle, he insisted on control
"I don't want to take it easy. I want you."
"You've got me and you always will, but we're going to do this my way." He slowly nibbled on her lips and worked his way down to the responsive skin at the base of her neck. When she whimpered he slowly dragged his hand over her breasts to her belly and back again. "I've got you, Babe, and I'm not letting go," he reassured her, saying almost what she'd said to him that first night when he'd been lost in anger. Then he calmly set out to slowly burn away her demons. He kept her trapped beneath him as he touched and played with her. He nibbled and sucked and teased and tormented her.
"Move, damn you!" she cried out, as she tried to rock her hips against his stationary ones, needing something to relieve the unbearable tension he created. "Please, Wyatt, make it all go away." Tears filled her eyes in frustration.
"That's what I'm doing, Sweetheart," he whispered. He loved touching her and watching her uninhibited responses. "But you've gotta have patience." He had her unable to move. His left hand was curled around her wrists. He'd stretched her arms high above her head causing her back to arch slightly. It drove her hips tighter against his where they were pinned together so she couldn't buck against him, creating the friction she craved.
"Fuck patience," she snarled as fear and need choked her.
He ignored her pleas and went back to playing with her body. She had been innocent their first time together, but even then, she'd abandoned all restraint with him. He'd taught her what he knew of passion and she'd taught him what she knew of love. It was a mark of her complete trust in him and he found it humbling and arousing at the same time.
As his free hand explored, he watched her eyes change from confused sleepy fear to frenzied need. He knew all of her sensitive areas and exactly how to touch them. He felt her begin to tremble, and decreased his tempo. "Shhh, not yet." He leaned forward until his chest pressed against hers and he gently cupped her face. "Stay with me, Deeg," kisses accented each word.
"I…I…can't…I," she mewed, her breath ragged as she tried to articulate her needs, but nothing more came out but tiny high-pitched gasps.
"Yes ya can, Babe. You healed me, now it's my turn to do the same for you." His mouth feathered her body, followed by fingers and highlighted by tiny bites. There wasn't anywhere he didn't explore while he kept her trapped beneath him, with his body buried in hers, filled, stretched, stationary and balanced on edge.
When tears ran down her face, he finally relented, and held her close in his arms. With one slow movement he pulled his hips back then drove deep and hard. Moments later she gasped and exploded in his arms. His face was hard and flushed as he fought for control. His body cried out to follow her and seek his own release, but he refused to let that happen.
She was still vibrating around him when he gripped her tighter and pulled her into a sitting position. "More!" he demanded harshly as she melted against him murmuring his name.
Her legs were still wrapped tightly around his hips, driving him deeper as her weight settled on his thighs. "I can't," she gasped in surprise. Her neck arched and head fell back to be cradled in his palm. Her thoughts were still shattered into a million pieces but she could feel tiny sharp flickers of need beginning to build.
"Yes, you can," he insisted and rested her forehead against his neck. "I'm going to make you burn, the way you did me." He wrapped one hand around each of her thighs and slowly raised and lowered her, creating delicious sensations. "And I'm not going to let you go."
They had been lovers for over two weeks. In that time she'd though he'd taken her all the places where passion resided, but she'd been wrong. This was new and exciting and just a tiny bit frightening, but he was her Tin Man and she would follow him anywhere. "I love you," she sighed and put her arms around his neck, holding on he as shook her world.
"Love you," he gasped, knowing he was walking very close to the edge of his control.
"Faster," she whimpered. Her nerve endings danced and sparked, begging for more. In the dark she saw stark longing reflected back from his crystal blue eyes, so she writhed to increase their pace.
"No." He wanted to make this last as long as he could, despite his own needs. This was about her. She'd given to him for weeks, now it was his turn to give to her, he only hoped he could hold out.
"Yes," she gasped and swirled her tongue around his nipple. She felt tremors of response run through him. They made her shiver and her breath hitch, knowing he felt what she did.
"You fight dirty, Princess," his voice was jagged with want.
"I...ah…had a…good…a good…teacher…." she could hardly speak as she nibbled on his shoulder. When he held her tighter against his chest and rolled her flat onto the bed, they never lost contact, never separated.
"Love you," he moaned as he covered her body with his and finished what she'd started when her searching hands had woken him.
Completely lost in each other, they touched and kissed, moved as one, thrusting together until they blew apart to form again, but this time little pieces of the Tin Man would forever be fused with his Princess and little pieces of her joined with him. The change was permanent and forever. It was elemental and basic, a change they would sense over time and sustain them as they grew, and mended, stronger than they'd been before.
Later she lay exhausted beneath him, one quiet step away from oblivion. When he lifted her and settled her beside him, she murmured his name. As he pulled the covers over them and ran his hand through her hair and over her shoulder, she whispered her love for him. Before she fell asleep wrapped in his arms, he kissed her, told her he loved her and would hold onto her forever. This time when she slept, she only dreamt of him.
"Deeg, Honey, wake up," Cain roused her by gently pushing her hair off her face and murmuring in her ear. It was early, before streaks of pink lightened the eastern sky in preparation of the first sun's rise.
"I'm awake, more or less," she muttered. Her eyes were heavy and she felt content and safe for the first time in months.
"Open your eyes, Sweetheart, we need to talk about your nightmare."
"And I was feeling so good this morning, despite the little errand you have to run today and most like tomorrow, as well." She yawned and blinked herself fully awake. She'd made him discuss what had haunted his sleep. She should have known he wasn't going to let her get away with silence.
"Think how much better you'll feel when you've talked it through." Cain felt out of his depths. Prodding someone to air his or her feelings was new territory for him. "Did last night have anything to do with the mission I'm going on today?"
"I don't think so. It's not the first time I've woken caught in that particular nightmare. Though each time, all I can ever remember is blackness smeared with blood and the rush of wind in my ears."
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
I haven't…I don't believe I've dreamt it since we began sleeping together." She grinned sheepishly. "Either you're a very therapeutic bed partner or our nocturnal activities protected me, as much as they were helped you."
"You should have said something." He'd been taking what she so freely offered and never questioned that she might be battling monsters of her own.
"I've had nightmares as far back as our trek across the Zone to find the emerald." She remembered waking on the trail and finding him watching her. "But this isn't the same. Those were specific dreams. I don't remember when this one began. I've tried painting it, but it doesn't make any sense and the last thing the Outer Zone needs is to have it made public that the Princess of Light has gone nuts."
"I didn't realize you were still having problems or that the ones I did know about had been so bad." He traced the contour of her cheek and raised her face so she'd have to look him in the eyes. "It's my job to protect you."
"There was nothing you could have done. You can't shoot a nightmare. Even if I'd known what would make them go away, can you imagine that little scenario? First I'd have had to send Glitch and Raw off to gather firewood then I'd' have walked up to you, asked oh so politely, 'By the way, Mr. Cain, would you mind fucking my brains out so I can get a good night's sleep.' You would have headed for the low lands so fast my head would have been spinning."
A chuckle rose up from deep in his chest and he tightened his grip on her. "I think you might have been surprised at my response. Besides, that's not what I'd call last night." He grinned at her look of surprise. "That wasn't fucking your brains out, it was giving the Princess another lesson in patience."
"Ahhh, then am I to assume that last night's seminar is one that will be repeated?" Her brows rose and she ran her fingers over that very sensitive spot she knew existed on his right hip.
"Since you seem to take great joy in teaching me about impulsive behavior, the least I can do is return the favor and educate you about the capacity for waiting." He covered her wandering hand with one of his own, before she started something they didn't have time to finish.
"I love you, Tin Man," her voice broke as she was swamped with emotion. "I never expected…I never knew that this was what it could be like between a man and a woman."
He didn't know how to tell her that he'd never experienced anything like it either, so he simply kissed her.
It was very late that night, when Cain and Ahamo returned to the palace in Central City. They'd left Raw to help Jeb and his resistance fighters guard the storage facility. The rest was up to the Queen. She and the Prince needed to draw up a plan for distribution of foodstuffs for basic survival. Of equal importance were tons of wheat, corn and oat seeds. Planting needed to be started soon, if there was to be a crop in the fall. They'd also discovered a fortune in art, jewelry and tapestries. The bureaucratic nightmare they represented, made Wyatt's head spin. Returning them to their rightful owners had the potential to keep the courts busy for annuals.
He showered and changed into drawstring pajama bottoms before he went looking for DG. He found her in the room her father had converted into a studio for her. It was on the opposite side of their chambers from their bedroom. In the weeks they'd been together, her time had been too filled with official duties to be able to carve out even a few minutes for art, but tonight she sat on a high stool, in front of an easel and stared at a small painting. The there was a faint odor of turpentine and other scents he didn't recognize.
Wyatt smiled as he leaned one bare shoulder against the doorframe and admired the slim dark-haired woman who had captured his heart. She was wearing a loose fitting white nightgown that hung from her shoulders and ended halfway between her knees and ankles. She looked soft and feminine, very different from the way she dressed when in Princess mode. Then she wore pants and shirts for getting around easily. He had no doubt that sometime soon she'd be forced into more fashionable attire, but until then, she was the Slipper Princess and everyone seemed to love her for it.
He admired her sleepwear. It was what she always wore or at least attempted to wear. He usually had her out of it in a matter of second. She'd, also developed a fascination for sleeping in his shirts. He didn't really mind. He could get her out of those even faster than the gowns. Grinning he admitted to himself, when they were alone, he really preferred her in nothing but skin.
With easy strides he walked quietly across the room while drawling his trademark greeting, "Hey, there Princess." He put his hands on her shoulders and felt her muscles relax at his touch. "Our trip was a success! The plan is to check out the other four sites and secure them before we begin distribution."
"How long will you be gone?" Her heart sank. It would take them at least a week to get men to all the locations. If Cain were in charge of it, he'd have to go to each as it was opened.
"I won't be. I'm overseeing it, but Jeb knows the men better than I do. He'll be the one going." He smiled disgustedly. "I get the paperwork."
"But you'll hate that!"
"It won't be so bad and I know a certain Princess who I might be able to bribe to help me, if it gets too tedious." He kissed her shoulder and ear.
"Wyatt, don't do this, if it's only for me?" She turned on the stool and he stepped between her thighs. "I'll be here when you get back. I'll wait for you," the words caught in her throat, but she had to go on. "I'll always wait for you."
"I know you would." He cupped her face and dragged his thumbs across her soft cheeks. "And Glinda help me, a few annuals ago, hell a few weeks ago, I would have taken you up on it. But I'm not that man anymore." Crystal blue eyes met worried sapphire ones. "I'm not that man you pulled out of a metal suit. He had no heart and only knew how to hate. I'm not the man who was put into that suit. He couldn't recognize the gift of love when someone gave it to him, because all he could do was concentrate on tin man training that taught him caring too much would make him weak."
"What are you saying," she gasped.
"Somehow you slipped past my well guarded defenses. All I can figure is that I was too punch-drunk from the effects of being trapped for eight annuals to ever see you coming. The next thing I knew, I was letting Zero get away because to attack him would put you in danger. I need you and I've never needed another human being in my life. I know it's too soon to ask, but I'm asking anyway. Marry me DG?"
"You realize that means you'll most likely end up being Prince Consort?" She could hardly breathe. She loved him until it hurt, but had never expected him to commit to her. It was too big a step after all he'd lost. He'd taken off his wedding ring, sometime while she slept, during the first night they'd spent together. For her it had been enough.
"The prince bit I'm not so fond of, but I figure I can lean to live with it." His eyes snapped blue fire and he ran his hands up her arms until he was holding her very close. "But if you think I won't shoot anyone else who tries to consort with you, you don't know me as well, as I think you do."
"You're jealous?" she squeaked in surprise.
"You're damn right I am. You should be with someone young, someone who has never been broken on the inside and out. I'm….."
"Hush, Tin Man." She kissed him. "I believe you've asked me a question. Someone who hasn't been broken would never understand a person who paints her nightmares in black and blood red." She pointed to the picture over her shoulder without taking her eyes off of his. "I don't want anyone younger, or different, or anything else. I want you Wyatt Cain. I love you and would be honored to marry you."
"I love you," he whispered and held her close. His eyes drifted to the painting and he knew why she'd been so upset the night before. Later he'd tell her that he'd already asked her father's permission to marry her. Later they'd talk about a lot of things, but now they had some of her broken pieces to deal with. "No wonder you woke up gasping and reaching for me."
"I reached for you at other times, too." She teased, but he turned her around so they were both facing what she'd painted. "You're not letting me off the hook, are you?"
"Nope. What do you think that thing represents?" He tilted his head to the side, trying to get different perspectives on it.
"The easy answer is all the guilt I feel for being too frightened to stay by Azkadellia in the cave all those years ago," her voice was heavy with sorrow.
"Deeg, honey, you were only five annuals old." With the exception of when they'd been at Fenaqua the first time, they'd never talked about what she discovered in the cave. "No one blames you."
"I know, intellectually, but in my heart I'm not so sure." She ran her hand up his right arm, until it covered puckered scar tissue from where he'd been shot in the battle to take the Tower. "How many more of these do you have because I panicked?" Tears filled her eyes. "And those scars you talk about on the inside, that's damage that can never be undone."
"Yeah, I've been banged up some, but there are no more open wounds." He smiled at what he was about to say, but went ahead anyway. "Glitch has a theory about scars. He says that it's only in the mending that we know true quality."
"He would certainly know." She sniffed. They had yet to find a healer who was willing to attempt surgery to put his brain back together, even with the help of magic.
"I've got you Deeg, whenever you need me. You challenged me to mend, and then provided the love and passion that I needed to put all the pieces back together and make them stick."
"It may take a bit of patience. I get caught by odd memories that I've lost along the way and didn't even know were missing." She didn't think the process would be quick for her. Her mother had hidden her past too well with magic and it kept popping up when she least expected it.
"It may take patience on both our parts." He tossed her over his shoulder with one large hand resting possessively on her bottom to keep her balanced as he carried her into their bedroom, flipping off lights as he went.
"Wyatt, what are you doing?" Her head spun and she could feel little flames of desire licking at her as his fingers dug into rounded muscles. She had to give him credit; he sure knew how to take her mind off her problems.
"Patience, Deeg, you've gotta have patience." He dropped her on the bed and grinned wickedly at her.
"I love you," she whispered, unable to take her eyes away from his.
"I love you, too, but you're wearing too many clothes," his voice shook as he tossed up her skirt and felt her fingers pulling at the drawstring of his sleep pants.
That autumn, following the demise of the Sorceress, the Outer Zone had one of the most abundant crops it'd had in all the annuals that records had been kept. Most people gave the credit to the newly crowned Queen of Light, DG and her Tin Man Prince Consort, Wyatt. The people always spoke of the Royal couple with the additional names added to their official titles. It seemed fitting and proper, a reminder of times past.
It took another year before Glitch became Ambrose-Glitch Mortimer Duhaggen, a man with both sides of his brain residing in his skull. Most of the time he was Glitch with flashes of brilliance and almost no forgetfulness. He felt whole and complete within himself, a truly happy man.
Soon after his successful surgery he wrote about the time of reconstruction following the reign and war of the Witch. Though his words fit everyone who had been touched by her evil, when he wrote them, he was thinking of Cain and DG.
Perfection is easy. We are all considered perfect until we break. But it is only in the mending that we know true quality. The land, our people and our souls can have scars aplenty, and still their essential power radiates through. It overwhelms the superficial perfection of things and beings that have never been test, never been broken, never been healed, and never survived with grace and power.