Description/Synopsis: With the eclipse behind them DG finds that life as a Princess isn't all the fairytales made it out to be. Weighed down by rules, duty and loneliness, can the unlikely friendship of a certain Tin man make her feel that 'there's no place like home' again?

Characters/Pairings: All of our beloved friends from the OZ, but mainly focusing on DG, Cain, Jeb and Glitch. Eventual pairing of DG/Cain (fangirl sigh)

Fic Rating: R (Possible NC-17 for future chapters)

Genres: Comedy/Angst/Adventure/Romance...and last, but NEVER least, snerk this just wouldn't be a fic of mine if it didn't eventually include SMUT!!

Warning: Will include massive levels of Cain/DG fluff, the likes of which should never be consumed in single-sittings. May cause swooning and profuse sweating for Cain-shippers. Author will not be held liable for any sleep deprivation caused by Cain fantasies.

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters of the SciFi smash hit Tin Man, if I did I would be otherwise entertaining myself at the moment saving a horse, riding a cowboy...and wearing that fedora while doing it. hehehe


You know what?

Screw princess lessons.

Screw magic lessons, tutor and suitors.

Screw the entire palace and every inch of its cold marble.

Screw 'duty', 'the responsibilities of royalty', 'expectations' and definitely screw 'princessly etiquette'.

DG was getting away from it all today.

She'd spent an entire week planning this little adventure and nothing was going to stand in her way. An intricate web of white lies had been spun the night before for her family's benefit...as well as her two wardens.

That's right, I said TWO wardens.

Fate, it seemed, could not get any crueler than having not one, but BOTH Cain men posted as your babysitters.

They took shifts. SHIFTS for God's sake so there wasn't a moment of peace from their watchful gaze.

Wyatt, of course, seemed to be ever present - regardless of whether it was his turn or not.

The entire OZ had decided that upon her return she had spontaneously changed to the same consistancy as a sheet of glass. Completely delicate and breakable, incapable of so much as making her own bed or lifting a finger to help in a chore.

It was infuriating.

Instead of working at the diner, going to school and fixing farm equipment, her days in the four months since the eclipse had been filled with the monotony of learning what was expected of her as a princess and entertaining pompous windbag pretty-boys who sought to 'court' her.

COURT HER!!

What the hell was someone raised an all American girl supposed to do with THAT nonsense?

She wore her now familiar and painful fake-smile whenever she got stuck suffering through a lunch or walk in the gardens with them.

"Gardens"...she snorted sarcastically at that word. You could paint a mural on the inside of a prison cell and it didn't make a difference how pretty it was, it still couldn't change the fact that you were on lockdown.

It was irrelevant at this point how enchanting Finaqua had seemed the first time she'd been there... again... after... since... whatever! She shook her head still trying to make sense of her fragmented memory. Alright, it didn't matter how enchanting Finaqua had seemed the day she'd restored it...there, that'll do...because after living inside the confines of its walls it had very quickly lost its appeal.

DG wanted wide open spaces again. It boggled her mind that she'd spent so many years wishing herself away from Kansas, and now here she was longing for nature as far as the eye could see. She'd finally been returned to her rightful home and now found it more confining than anything she'd experienced back at the farm. She felt trapped in her own skin now, stir-crazy, restless...and lonely...

Azkadellia didn't seem to mind the rules so she couldn't even commiserate with her own sister about how stifled she felt. It seemed like the last thing she wanted to bring up with Az, any way. She felt her sister would be fully justified if she turned to her and said, "Really? Yeah, I felt that way when someone handed me over the witch and left me a prisoner inside my own body for a decade or so...but hey, I can totally see how living here in the palace is rough for you."

And needless to say she wouldn't be asking her sister to tag along on another little "adventure" in the forest with her...we all know how the last one turned out...

She hadn't had fun in so long she was starting to forget what it was like.

Even her friends were now treating her like a princess, which might sound nice in theory but it didn't exactly allow for humor or bonding time when they were so careful of their words and wanted to bow when she entered the room. Talk about making a girl feel out of place. How was she supposed to horse around with the guys after seeing that? Joking around with them seemed to make them uncomfortable nowadays, they saw her for her role - not for who she was - not for DG. It was heartbreaking to endure their polite smiles and mindful conversations.

So she'd fibbed to her mother that it was 'that time of the month'. Not knowing whether the words 'period', 'PMS', 'cramps' or 'bloating' were used here but figuring that the Queen was bound to at least understand the reference to its schedule. In the months prior she'd only spoken to Az about it and had been thoroughly relieved to find that at least basic hygeine products were the same in the OZ as on the Other Side.

She said she was feeling particularly bad this month and just wanted to sleep in, that she was feeling drained and needed to rest, that she had a terrible headache and stomach pains...as much fibbing as she could squeeze in before her mother finally gave in and let her have the following day off from lessons.

And this was that day. HER day. She could sneak out and roam freely, enjoy the surrounding countryside, get a breath of fresh air without all of the restrictions that had been thrust upon her...

She knew that once she got back all hell would break lose, but frankly she didn't care. If she asked to leave the palace she'd be sent with a small army of guards and couldn't stand the supervision anymore. It was like she was 8 years old again.

She was confident that her use of a womanly excuse would keep the Cain-inators at bay.

No guy liked to broach that subject so she wasn't entirely surprised to find the hall outside her door empty when she stuck her head out to check. She smiled that they figured she'd just spend the day in bed and marvelled at her own genius as she crept out as quiet as a mouse. It was still too early for even the staff to be stirring and she used their stairwells and doors to work her way through the labyrinth of the palace and out to the "Gardens" (the thought earned another sarcastic snort).

There were guards posted at various locations around the perimeter wall, but DG had been watching them for days on end and found that while they were extremely concerned with someone entering the palace, they failed to secure the locations where a person could hop over the wall to get out.

Her hair was pulled back in a high pony tail and she was wearing her jeans and a black "undershirt"...which was really a tank top, forgoing her jacket because the OZ's equivalent of a summer, though they called it some other weird name that escaped her memory, was pretty damned hot.

She climbed up a tree along side the wall and took a deep breath hoping for the best as she dropped the 14 feet to the grass below. It wasn't a graceful landing, that was for damned sure, but at least she'd managed to pull it off without injury. She got back to her feet slowly, testing out her joints and smiling when she found no agony present.

Under the cover of darkness she managed to avoid detection as she scurried off toward the forest, trying her best not to let the excited laughter fall from her lips that she'd just pulled a prison-break for the second time in just a few months. This time there was no Cain and Glitch and Raw to help her, they now fell under the heading of 'captors'.

She broke into a run the instant she was surrounded by trees, beyond thrilled to be doing something so "reckless". She couldn't even pull off a fast walk inside the palace without someone fretting that she might (gasp!) 'hurt herself'. Heaven forbid, not THAT! Whatever would she do if she were to skin a knee?

Trees passed by in a blur as she raced on, desperately trying to leave her worries behind. She ran until her legs grew weary and lungs threatened to burst, then ran some more, and a little longer still. Before long she found herself at the edge of the 'crack' in the OZ.

She stared down to its depths with wide eyes, finding its heights all at once terrifying and freeing. She supposed she could feel disappointed to have run out of room, but finally decided fair enough, it would keep her from wandering too far from the palace to get back before nightfall. She set up a landmark for herself with branches and rocks so that she could find her way back to Finaqua, no matter how far she traveled along the edge of the chasm if she reached this point she knew a straight line in the opposite direction would lead her right back to the palace.

But further exploration would have to wait. A contented sigh escaped her lips as she flopped down on a large stone and crossed her legs beneath herself. For now, she had the best seat in the OZ to watch the sun...suns...rise.

It was as beautiful as it had been the day she'd seen it from the hot air balloon with Ahamo...her...(gulp)...father...

Okay, so she was still having a hard time with that. Maybe it was just the muttonchops that were throwing her off...but some day she really hoped she'd feel close to him again. It had been easier for her to come to grips with having lavender eyes as a mom, likely because she was the face and voice that had always been at the edge of her dreams growing steadily clearer through the years.

She pushed the subject from her mind and growled in frustration, that wasn't why she was out here. She shook her head trying to clear her thoughts. This was supposed to be a distraction from her worries, not a time to focus on them without interuption.

But before she had a chance to decide what she wanted to do or which direction she wanted to explore first a twig snapped behind her.

She just about turned herself inside out trying to spin toward the source of the noise, her jaw dropping open the instant she did.

"How...in the..." She began, her eyes ready to pop out of her skull.

There, in all his fedora-rocking glory, stood her head warden complete with the thin branch he'd just snapped to get her attention in his hands and a look of supreme displeasure on his face.

The heat of his glare had her wishing she could crawl beneath the rock she was seated on and wait out the avalanche of admonishment that was threatening to fall from her Tin Man's mouth.

"Let's...Go...NOW." He ground out and she yelped (literally YELPED!) at the finality in his tone.

She stood slowly, eyes downcast as he turned and began stalking away until her mind realized that A) she'd had less than an hour of peace before he'd come to take it away from her and B) she had to go back now.

Her temper flared at the idea of her mother and...father...(alright, yeah it was still creepy) giving her those looks of disapproval and saying that much hated "we're disappointed in you" line.

Words burst from her without much thought as to what she would say.

"Damn it, Cain! You just can't leave me alone for two seconds can you?" She screamed, a bit unsure of herself at first as he clenched his jaw and cast a challenging gaze over his shoulder. But to hell with that, she was fed up with playing the princess. Her hands were flailing dramatically as she spoke, her face red as she launched into a tirade. "I'm not a little kid, okay? I can go out in the freaking woods without an armed escort! Do you realize how pathetic it is that I have to sneak out just to be alone for a few minutes? I'm not going back yet, and that's that. You can't force me to. So short of you throwing me over your shoulder and dragging me kicking and screaming all the way back to the palace I'm staying right here, Tin Man." She crossed her arms over her chest, her features hardened in anger as she nodded her head once for emphasis.

Cain's brow arched and her stomach tried to leave her body and run in the other direction...or at least that's what it felt like it was doing in there upon seeing the dreaded eyebrow.

"Fine..." He growled through those clenched teeth and oh, for a fraction of a fleeting milisecond hope glimmered within her. That had been so much easier than she'd thought it would be. It was high time the man started listening to her...why if she'd known it would be that simple...But her celebration was very abruptly cut short when he started towards her and finished his sentence, "we'll do it your way, Princess."

She knew she looked like a fool, the way her jaw dropped open and eyes bugged out. "Wait, WHAT?" She screached, taking several steps back and holding up a hand, stopping him for the moment. "You're not...you wouldn't...CAIN??...You can't be serious!"

Au contraire, Princesse...the look on his face said otherwise.

"But...but...but..." She stammered uselessly. The fight was leaving her as she stared at the unwavering resolution and anger in his features.

Her nostrils flared with the need to sob as she thought to herself, he honestly doesn't care why I'm out here, it's his duty to keep me locked up in that palace and that's exactly what he intends to do.

Her heart fractured inside her chest and she clenched her jaw trying not to cry. Why was she always giving herself these delusions of friendship with people who couldn't care less about her?

If anything she was in denial of the truth, desperately avoiding having to admit to herself that they had only helped her because it was necessary to save the OZ. Now that the mission was over she had just faded away into the background in their minds...

The thought alone turned her stomach and she held up her chin trying to fight back the pain.

No more delusions, no more denial. She was alone and it was time to come to terms with that. It was her punishment for all the suffering she'd wrought on the people she'd come to care about, the people she'd told herself cared for her in return.

She let out a bitter laugh and stared at him in disbelief for a second. "You know what? Whatever. Let's just go then..." She said, her face falling from defiance to devastation as she cut around him and started the long trek back to her gilded cage.

She was sure she was out of earshot when she began pouting to herself..."I don't know why I thought you'd listen to me anyway...you're just doing your job...just like everybody else..."

But DG hadn't taken into account the fact that a Cain earshot went far beyond a normal earshot. He'd heard every word she said, and continued to hear every word she said to herself for the rest of the walk back to Finaqua.


Author's Note:

Fic title inspired by the Cain/DG video "Savin Me" posted by Mercsire on YouTube (I ADORE that video and her, so go check it out and leave her some love! Tell her BadGirl sent you ;) haha It's definitely great for a Cain/DG fix. )