Disclaimer: Tin Man belongs to Sci Fi, L. Frank Baum and everyone else. Except me. Unfortunately it's never me. As Lovers Go is by Dashboard Confessional.
As Lovers Go
I'll be true, I'll be useful, I'll be cavalier,
I'll be yours my dear
I'll belong to you
If you just let me through
The suns were setting. It was something of an anticlimax, seeing as how they'd gone through so much trouble to keep them shining. But for the four exhausted figures, collapsed in chairs around the room, a good nights sleep was very much welcome.
DG, Raw, Glitch and Cain sat in comfortable silence, almost caught short by the sudden halt to all the action. No one made to say anything and it was only when the door opened and Jeb Cain strolled in that anyone made a movement. Cain got to his feet and stretched out a hand to his estranged son.
"Healer is satisfied no limbs are gonna fall off anytime soon." Jeb nodded and DG leaned forward in her chair.
"Did you see Tutor? They won't let me in…"
"Yeah. He was sleeping but they reckoned there was no long lasting harm." Jeb nodded and then hesitated. "Your Highness."
"God, don't start calling me that. It's bad enough I can't stop Glitch doing it." DG slumped back in her seat but then jumped to her feet as Ahamo came in.
"She's sleeping." Ahamo said. The others stood and Ahamo smiled around at them.
"On behalf of the Royal family of Gale… I give you our thanks. Without all of you…"
The words didn't need to be said.
Two Weeks Later
"They want me dead, Deej…" Azkadellia clutched at the balcony of the palace in Central City, staring at the crowd clamouring at the gates. "They want to kill me."
"Well, they're not going to." Dg said, slipping an arm around her sister's waist. She felt closer to Azkadellia than either of her parents who, whilst well meaning, were utter strangers until her memory returned.
Now Azkadellia turned to her sister and DG was heartbroken to see tears forming in her dark eyes.
"DG, what do I do? I hurt so many of them."
"No, the witch did that."
"Using my face! Using my hands…" She looked down as though expecting to see them coated with blood but DG slapped them away.
"Az, I will explain to them."
Her blue eyes softened as she pulled Azkadellia into a hug.
"I won't let anyone hurt you. Not again."
One Year Later
Wyatt Cain leant against the wall, watching the door that lead the to servants passage in the Central City Palace. It was close to midnight and he rather suspected that any minute now…
There! The door cracked open and a small figure slipped out, pulling a hood over her dark hair as she shifted her large backpack. She pulled the door closed as quietly as possible and then stepped into street, looking to left and right.
"What're you doing, kid?" Cain spoke quietly but it still made DG jumped, spinning to face him.
"Cain!" Her expression of shock forced a miniature smile. She did not look impressed by this reaction. "How did you know?"
"Anybody could see how restless you were getting."
"You could tell that from one lunch?"
The reunion of the Witch Conquerors (as they had become known) had been celebrated not with a parade or a ball as Queen Lavender had so desired, but with a simple lunch. DG, Cain, Raw, Glitch and Azkadellia had appeared briefly to make a televised broadcast, congratulating the gathered crowds on their bravery and thanking them for their efforts in restoring the O.Z. The crowds had grumbled mutinously as Azkadellia took the microphone but her stammered words couldn't have failed to appease them as she expressed her gratitude for their forgiveness and promised her help to restore the kingdom that she still loved so dearly.
But as the five of them had sat, laughing and eating, Cain had found his eyes drawn to the younger princess as she giggled at Glitch's (semi) witty repartee. She smiled sweetly, allowed herself to be primped by her mother's beauticians, forced herself into gorgeous but entirely unpractical robes. But beneath it, Cain saw frustration, exasperation at this perfect life. She was happy but she wasn't satisfied.
And as she listened to Raw speak of his homeland, of the deep valleys filled with lush foliage and how the Viewers lived in their houses of caves and wooden covers, letting nature connect with every parent of their existence, Cain saw desperation to see the Outer Zone. And not with the deadline of eternal darkness hanging over her head.
Now, as she stood before him on the grimy street of Central City, Cain saw that desperation deep in her eyes.
"You gonna make me go back, Tin Man?" She asked quietly. Cain heaved a deep breath and pushed himself off the wall with his elbows.
"I can't make you do a damn thing, kid. However…" He straightened his hat, "I would hope you'll let me accompany you."
"What?" She looked utterly bemused.
"Hate to break it to you, princess, but exploring the O.Z. isn't gonna be a walk in the park. There are still plenty of Longcoats out there that wouldn't mind having a go at the Conqueror of the Witch."
Three Months Later
A letter home every week, sent by air messenger (every region had a different carrier bird). Somehow the assurance that Wyatt Cain was looking after DG, made the situation bearable, but only just.
Azkadellia took her mother's hands in both of hers.
"Mother, she'll be fine."
"The Outer Zone is still in pieces… we were relying on her being here to help repair it." Lavender said desperately. "We were going to do it as a family, we were going to…"
"We still can." Azkadellia kissed her cheek. "And somehow I don't think DG is doing nothing. If I know Deej, she's doing her bit from wherever she is."
Leaving her Father to comfort her Mother further, the princess left the room, almost walking into Glitch. He caught her by the shoulders.
"I wouldn't go in there. Mother's…" She glanced behind her but Glitch nodded, smoothing a hand over the thick hair that had covered the scar left by the operation to restore his brain and mind. The name, however, had stuck.
They walked down the corridor together, Azkadellia placing her hand in the crook of Glitch's elbow without thinking about it. The pair had fallen into an easy friendship, taking off from their past as though the between years had never happened.
"News from your sister?"
"Yes, they're travelling south."
"All is well?"
"Yes." The silence was comfortable and the pressure from her hand lent a peace to Glitch that he had not experienced for years.
Four Months Later
"Damn it, Cain!" DG's angry voice exploded from below. Cain glanced down from his position in the branches, where he had pulled the limbs of two trees together and tied them, creating a makeshift shelter from the heavy rain. However, when he'd pulled a particularly large branch, a pool of water that had gathered in the leaves had fallen onto the unfortunate princess below. Now she glared up through dripping hair as he leapt gracefully to the ground.
"No harm done, kid. Let's get the tent up."
Months of practice enabled them to get the tent up and the fire started in less than an hour. DG huffed at the Tin Man.
"I'm going to change, as I'm now soaked." He merely smirked. He had learned not to take anything that she said too seriously.
As she disappeared into the small tent, his mind cast back over the past months. To the visit to Raw's homeland, to the ruby mines of Quadling country, to the Munchkin villages and a thousand other places in between. The towns where they'd been attacked by Longcoat supporters, and the cities where they'd been hailed as heroes. The villages where DG had insisted they stay to help rebuild houses that had been damaged by the Witch's rule and the cottages they'd encountered along the road where they'd been whisked inside by the families to tell their stories and be fed and put into warm beds. The cloudless nights camping where he'd taught DG the constellations (apparently they were different on the Other Side) and on the nights the stars were hidden, she'd shared her stories from home. Of an irritating policeman (she'd smirked at him) insistent on ruining all her fun, her excursions on her motorbike, her plans to tour the world. She'd bought a sketchbook and pencils in one village and he'd woken from a nap to find her sketching intently. At first she'd been too shy to show him, but eventually had handed the pad over and he'd poured over the detailed drawings of Raw, a gruff smile on his deceptively fierce face. Glitch, zipper free and grinning proudly in his medallion-adorned uniform. Azkadellia, soft and sweet with her hair loose and clinging to the ropes of the swing at Finaqua.
The last page had been himself, an outline of a man leaning against a tree, hat low over his face. He'd looked at her curiously.
"Do I wear my hat that low?"
"Sometimes. But I…" For some reason she had flushed. "I couldn't get your face perfect."
That thought plagued him as she returned to drawing a portrait of her Nurture bots, sat on the porch of their Other World home. She could draw just about anyone, all of them from memory. But he was right before her and she couldn't draw him?
"I hope you're not letting that fire go out." She emerged from the tent and he stared, taken aback.
"Is that my shirt?" She glanced down at the dark brown shirt and gave an apologetic smile.
"I need to do some laundry when we get to the next stream. Is it ok?" He lifted an eyebrow and stoked the fire whilst she pulled out strips of bacon. Cain began to fry it whilst DG rolled up the sleeves on the shirt and cut thick slices of bread. They worked in silence and whilst he prepared the food she tied her still damp hair into a messy knot and made coffee.
"Once we reach the next village, there's not much further to go until Finaqua." Cain said as they ate. DG nodded and swallowed the mouthful of bacon and bread.
"Yeah. They'll be there for the summer season now."
"You looking forward to seeing them?" He asked nonchalantly. DG paused and then looked up with a smile. A strand of dark hair was trailing from the knot and caressed the pale skin of her neck. Cain fought not to look at it, although he suspected that staring into her eyes would be more dangerous. Sitting there, cross-legged on the blanket, his over sized shirt drowning her slim frame, tentatively sipping coffee from a dented tin cup, she looked far more like DG than when she'd stood before him in a beautiful gown.
"I can't wait to see Az." She said, putting the cup on the ground and wiping her hands on her already dirty trousers. "I hope she's ok."
"I'd say she's more than ok." They'd seen a broadcast two towns ago, where Azkadellia had been seen returning from a visit to the towns surrounding Central City. Glitch had been at her side, his hand on the small of her back as she announced her pleasure at seeing the recovery of the O.Z. Obviously the wounds the witch had made were not going to fade soon, but Azkadellia was putting herself out there, proving that she was a different person, one that the people of the O.Z. were coming to love. Cain had been proud to see Jeb following behind, leading the royal guard.
DG looked up at him as he stood to throw more wood on the fire.
"What will you do?" She asked softly. He glanced at her.
"When I go back. I mean, I'll have to… won't I?" It was as if she was asking permission, but he didn't feel qualified to give it. Instead he lowered himself back to the ground, joining her on the blanket but leaning back against a tree. She twisted round to see him more clearly.
"Will you go on travelling?"
"Not sure." He mumbled. She turned back to the fire for a moment before speaking again.
"At least you'll have a chance to catch up with Jeb."
Silence again. Weighted silence this time. Neither of them broke it, staring at the fire instead. Eventually DG leant back and to Cain's astonishment shifted so that she too was leaning against the tree beside him and her head sank onto his shoulder.
"I'll miss this."
"Camping in the rain? Sleeping on the ground, without a mattress? Not having any clean clothes to wear?" He plucked the sleeve of the shirt and she snorted with laughter.
"Surprisingly, yes. I will miss all that. This is pretty much what I always wanted to do, travel around, see the world. Only difference is, I thought I'd be doing it alone."
She smiled up at him, her chin resting on his shoulder. Cain swallowed and put his head back against the tree.
"Got it all outta your system now? Ready to go back to your life as Princess DorothiGale?"
"Urgh, don't call me that. DorothiGale Gale? What were my parents thinking?" She pulled a face, putting her cheek back to his shoulder and staring at the fire.
After a moment, her felt her slender fingers wrap around his hand. Without thinking her squeezed her hand.
"Cain, you'll come back and see me won't you?" There was genuine fear in her voice and Cain felt his throat tighten at the sound of it.
"What do you mean?"
"I know you'll want to go off and have your own life. But… just promise that you'll come back and see me sometimes." It sounded as though she was going to cry and Cain was absolutely convinced that he could not deal with a sobbing DG.
She sat up and turned again to face him, eyes filled with fear and concern.
"Cain, these months have been the best of my life. I don't think I've ever been happier. I'm freezing cold half the time, my feet are covered in blisters and I would kill for a hot bath but… I'm happy. And going back to all that fuss and structure is going to kill me if I didn't think I'd at least get to see you once in a while."
Cain leant forward and caught her chin in one calloused hand. She gazed at him with her impossibly blue eyes and Cain smiled.
"DG… if you think that I'm gonna travel for more than six months and then ditch you just when it's getting interesting, you obviously need to stick a zipper on your head and get someone to examine you."
"Is that a yes?" She grinned.
"It's a yes." He said, releasing her face and settling back against the tree. DG continued to smile and took his hand again.
"Cross your heart?" She asked.
"What does that mean?"
"It means, do you promise?" She rephrased.
Cain let out a chuckle.
"Not sure I can cross my heart. I don't have one, remember?"
DG fell back against the tree and to his complete surprise and pleasure, her arms wrapped around his waist as she pressed her face to his chest. And to his further surprise, he found his own arms entwining DG and pulling her closer.
"That's OK." She murmured. "You've got mine."
A/N: Well, this is my first venture into the world of Tin Man fiction. I got the DVD last weekend, having been vaguely aware of it being on sci fi channel but having not idea what it was about. I was wonderfully surprised and am now in love. It's been a while since I wrote fan fiction (there's a poor little Phantom of the Opera story which is destined never to be finished due to a crazy university schedule) but I hope somebody enjoys this piece. I'd love to do a multi-chapter but not in the foreseeable future.
Please leave feedback, and thank you for having me in this category!