Three months.

It had been three accursed months since the eclipse and things were even more muddled in his mind than the day he'd fallen out of that iron suit.

Sure he gave the outward appearance of normalcy, mainly for the sake of those who had so infuriatingly latched on to him, but inside?

Inside there was untold damage.

Rifts and fractures, anger and frustration, confusion and heartbreak…all eating away at him day after day, hidden behind cold blue eyes which peered out at the world beneath the rim of his fedora.

He didn't want this new life that was being thrust onto him.

He just wanted to go home, but there was no home to go back to.

He didn't want to be here.

Didn't want to run away, either…nowhere to go…

So he stayed, feeling just as imprisoned as he had within the suit despite the fresh air that filled his lungs.

The world went on around him; everyone assuming he chose this stoic silence, that it was his way…they didn't understand that while he wasn't speaking aloud his mind was having millions of conversations at once.

But she did.

His shattered mind could see it in those eyes whenever he caught her staring at him.

She could hear those fragmented voices; sense the storm raging behind the carefully kempt façade of serenity.

Magic? Maybe.

Intuition? Perhaps.

Didn't matter anyway, it was just something that was there.

Her knowledge and silence of the fact, his suffering and maintaining of appearances.

Six months.

Six months now and he was living on his own.

It was a small place, smaller than his home had been so many years earlier…but it was silent refuge. It was a retreat from those expectant faces and polite conversations.

When it had reached the point where he could barely find the will to speak to anyone he'd made his move…

And those wide blue eyes had watched in silence from across the room.

He'd half expected her to say something, to pull him aside and ask him to…

He didn't know what…

He just thought he felt her stirring with the need to speak.

Or was it something inside of him stirring?

The royals had asked him to stay, of course…as had Glitch and Raw. The Queen had offered a position at the palace and all that, had even asked him if he wished to be a Tin Man again.

But there was no point. He was done fighting, no reason to fight anymore.

Jeb stopped by almost daily in the beginning, but as time went on he had his own life to attend to and the visits grew less frequent.

He supposed that should bother him, tried to make it hurt…

But it didn't.

Nothing did.

One annual.

He rarely ever heard his own voice these days, aside from the occasional visit from Glitch or Jeb or Raw…

They would smile politely, pretend not to notice the distance in his stare, the fact that he seemed to have no concept of time anymore…

But it was getting harder and harder to stay anchored. Hadn't it been just a few days since they stopped by last?

Oh…three months…

It was like being in the suit…always like being in the suit now.

Whatever had happened in there…whatever had made it possible to survive so many annuals in that suspended state of reality…it was still with him.

He could vaguely recall the blue eyes…that fleeting feeling of freedom they had held for him…even dreamt of them for a while…

But he couldn't anymore. Sleep wasn't necessary now, he was in perpetual sleep.

Lost in a nightmare with no way to wake.

It hardly surprised him to learn, after testing the theory, that he didn't need to eat, either.

A month without as much as a bite of food or drink of water and still he remained the same.


Part of him found this to be important, some foggy coherent piece of his former self insisting he tell someone about this…who was it he wanted to tell?

His mind would only answer with the faded memory of those wide blue eyes.


And who was she, anyway?

One annual, three months, two weeks, four days…

His eyes opened and he looked down into the fireplace in front of him, something had broken his silence and he could feel the gun in his hand, pointing at the door.


He shook his head, trying to gather his thoughts as his eyes focused on the figure in his doorway.

She wore a blue cloak, its hood covering her hair…casting a shadow over her face…


He rubbed his eyes and stood from the chair, staring at her as she approached.

The instant she pushed back that hood, the very second he saw her eyes he closed the distance between them without warning, completely oblivious to the fact that doing so had caused her to back away a few steps in fear.

But these were the eyes.

The ones he could just…the ones he saw…

He didn't know when…he just knew them…actually knew them in this haze of nothingness.

He ran his fingertips along the side of her face, staring down at her with his features strained by confusion, trying desperately to recall.

"Cain…do you…remember me?" She asked softly, her voice breaking as she struggled not to cry; trying so very hard to be brave as his shaking hands cupped her face, his eyes staring down at her clouded by madness.

The others had warned her not to do this alone…with what she'd learned she knew how far gone he was…but she needed to be here…needed to come to him…

"I know how to help you now." She whispered and watched a single tear stream down his face.

He could feel something in his chest, some pain and longing that had been walled up inside of him.

It had been so long since he'd felt…not a knife to his arm or a coal to his palm could bring him sensation anymore…another theory tested…another item he'd found so important but didn't know who he needed to tell…

It was her.

And she was making him feel.

He could feel that she was here for him after so long because she'd never once given up hope for him…

A sob escaped her as he drew her to his chest and kissed her hungrily, his body quaking uncontrollably with need as he wrapped his arms around her and ran his fingers through her hair. She moaned into his mouth, tears streaming down her face that she was finally here after so much work to reach this point...that he was letting her in.

Without hesitation he had stripped away her cloak, lifting her up and carrying her back to the bed. She tasted so sweet, so warm…so real in his nightmare…he could feel the softness and warmth of her flesh beneath his hands and wanted to feel more.

She let her eyes roll closed and smiled listening to her dress be torn away, reaching up and pulling his shirt over his head as he struggled to keep his mouth pressed to hers.

And there was desire unlike anything she'd…anything he'd…ever experienced in that moment.

Their bodies pressed together, their hands wandering over one another's bare flesh, their kiss becoming more starved as he stood from the bed, taking her along with him, holding her to his chest with one arm as he frantically removed the rest of his clothing, unwilling to let her go as he did it.

She could hear herself laughing softly against his lips as the tears fell down her face, moaning and wrapping her arms around his shoulders as he laid her back on the bed.

She opened her eyes and smiled finding him staring down at her, his eyes locked with hers as he slowly pressed deeper and deeper inside of her. She let her head fall back, crying as his mouth explored the underside of her jaw, listening to him moan and cry with her.

He held to her like life itself, drawing her up into his arms and kneeling back on the bed, watching her face…her familiar, loving face…as their bodies moved together.

He drank it all in, the sounds of her breathing…moaning for him…the sounds of the bed groaning beneath them…the sounds of their skin connecting in a steadily faster rhythm…her heartbeat beneath his lips as he kissed her throat…her hands in his hair as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders…the way she let him hide away from the world against her chest…the way she held him so protectively…

His entire body was trembling beneath her, his hands shaking as they caressed her bare back, his breathing coming in fast bursts.

He pulled away enough to look into those blue eyes and the starved desire in his features…the tears in his maddened, tear-filled eyes nearly swept away her own sanity.

And when he finally found release, kissing her hungrily and crying into her mouth he could feel it…that freedom she'd given him so long ago…that sense of hope and life that had been taken away from him…

She stayed with him for hours as he held her to his chest and kissed her, weeping and staring at her in shock through the haze of the spell that bound him.

But she knew now. She knew how to make it right.

It had been no easy task to uncover the magic behind the suits, the intricacies of its webs…

Zero had been the very unwilling subject of her numerous attempts to find the key for the past annual.

But she'd done it, that very evening she'd finally learned how to break the spell and had left immediately to come to him.

When he'd been released from the suit she'd been there, her power leading the way for him like a beacon. But it wasn't enough to free him from the dark magic, and as time wore on and he withdrew from her the effects had settled back over him like a black cloud.

"Cain?" She whispered and he blinked for the first time in several moments, his eyes focusing on her once more and she swallowed hard. "I'm going to bring you back again…I'm going to set you free." He eyed her curiously, following her as she sat up in the bed, her heart breaking seeing panic in his features for a moment thinking she was leaving him. "Close your eyes." She said softly and he tilted his head to the side, waiting for her to repeat the instruction before complying.

She took a deep breath and prayed for strength as she placed her hands over his eyes and reached deep down inside of herself, harnessing every bit of her power as she felt the dark magic that encased him lash out against her.

Hours passed…

Her power was waning but still she fought for him…

Freeing Zero from the spell was far simpler….she supposed after such a long time the magic had managed to get a firmer hold on its victim…

But he could have all of it; she would keep trying for him…

And just when she thought she could take no more she felt him kiss her lips softly, with her smile the last of his curse fell away.

She opened her exhausted eyes slowly…

And found Wyatt staring back at her with absolute adoration in his crystalline eyes.

"Princess." He whispered, smiling at her as he reached out and caressed her cheek.

"Wyatt…" She breathed, thankful that he didn't seem shocked by them both being naked in his bed. Part of her had feared he wouldn't remember how they'd arrived in this situation.

Quite the contrary.

He pulled her over to his chest and laid back on the bed, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her madly.

She nuzzled into his chest, laughing and crying as he kissed the top of her head.

"I love you." She whispered.

Wyatt smiled and closed his eyes. "And I love you. You have this habit of saving me so I guess I should keep you around."

She laughed and sat up, staring down into his eyes. "Ditto…so are you going to come home now?" She asked and he blinked several times.


He had one after all.