Title: If Things Were Different

Author: FeistyFox

Rating: M

Pairing: DG/Cain

Summary: What would have happened if DG had never heard the witch? What if she had grown up in the Outer Zone knowing who she was and what she was supposed to be? Would it be what her family expected or would she have veered off in another direction entirely? Take a look...

Disclaimer: I don't own Tin Man

The trip had been less then ideal. True, they hadn't been ambushed by a forest nymph again and they hadn't gotten lost, which had never happened when he was in charge of trips, but the weather had been awful and he was going to have a serious conversation with their mechanic when they got back. The roads had followed the weathers lead and of course the truck had merrily joined the party. At least they had made it to Finaqua before the Engine had stalled for the sixth time and refused to turn over. He hadn't even attempted to fix it. He had simply sighed and glanced over at the Mystic Man who had clapped him on the shoulder good naturedly before shoving his door open and stepping out into the downpour before he could even try to scout the area. The man had no sense of self-preservation at all. No wonder he was the only one who was willing to travel with him anymore.

"How many time do I have to ask you to let me check the area first, old man?" Their banter was anything but proper as he walked to the back of the non-descript truck scanning the woods discretely.

"Nonsense, Wyatt, I can see the maze and I don't sense anything with my magic. We're perfectly safe."

"The way we were perfectly safe inside your manor three weeks ago?" He asked sarcastically throwing his pack over his shoulder. He wasn't going to worry about the rest since they were so close to the castle and locked the vehicle securely. The palace staff would haul the truck in and have it fixed and their things sent up to their rooms in an hour or so. "Or when we were perfectly safe last fall festival when that goat cult decided to attack you?"

"That was an unusual situation." He heard the joviality in the duke's voice. Unusual. That was his assessment of a crazy goat cult attack. Unusual. He rolled his eyes as he tugged the brim of his hat down farther. Even his water tight clothing wasn't going to keep this kind of rain off of him for long, and the Mystic Man wasn't even wearing a hat as he stood patiently waiting for his guard to finish securing their transport in the pouring rain.

"I would hate to know what your definition of a bad situation might entail." The man's chuckle bounced against the maze's edge as he considered it momentarily before turning east. After about twenty feet of flat green hedges he spoke up. "Not to put a damper on this nice spring trek but the entrance is in the opposite direction."

"One of them is." He agreed. He felt one of his eyebrows quirking up. It was a well known fact that the entrance to Finaqua was not only guarded at all times, but that even if someone managed to incapacitated the guards the likelihood of them making it through the maze, which was rumored to move if it didn't like you, was a slim one. He would admit he was intrigued now.

"Can I ask how many there are?"

"You can ask all you'd like, unfortunately only members of the royal family are allowed to know about all of them."

"But you're taking me through one?"

"I'm not too concerned that you're going to let the secret slip. You know more important things and the maze can protect itself if it thinks you're a threat. Besides you might need to know a second way in someday so pay attention as we go through."

Because he so rarely let his attention wander, not that the duke was questioning his skills as a Tin Man, or at least a retired one. Ten more minutes of sloughing through puddles and the Mystic Man stopped and placed his hand on the bushes studying it intently. After a second he took another step to the left and pointed with his other hand. "Put your hand next to mine. I'm going to make sure the maze recognizes you."

Well, the man had made stranger requests of him so he complied. The duke's hand flashed a pale blue-white and suddenly the leaves on the bushes were shifting around his. His shoulders stiffened noticeably but his companion chuckled. "Relax. Think of it as a dog getting your scent."

He was sure that was an amazing simplification of what was actually going on but let it pass. The last time he had asked how something magical worked he had gotten a lecture on the expanding universe and microcosms. He still didn't know what a microcosm was and frankly didn't have the interest or energy to ask. At least he didn't have to deal with the strange sensation for very long. After a minute the maze let him go before beginning to snake back in on itself. As it formed a small arched doorway in it's side he took careful note of their location and followed the Mystic Man inside.

He'd been to Finaqua twice before and talked to a few other men who had walked the same path to the palace he had, so he knew better than to keep track of the number of steps he was taking, or the sequence of turns he was taking. All you could do once you entered the maze was to keep the direction you wanted to go in your head. Everything else could change at any given moment. It took them another twenty minutes to make it to the end. It had taken him at least twice as long the other two times he had gone through. He was impressed with this short cut.

When they emerged the guards at the exit were surprised and made to draw their weapons. He snarled at them before they were even close. "The Duke of the Black Mountains and The Northern Isle! Show respect!"

As he fully expected they would the men immediately abandoned their quest for weapons and instead fell into deep bows. He hadn't had a problem getting anyone to listen to him in a least eight years, other than his son and the duke, although he thought that was fairly natural given Jeb's age, he hadn't exactly been the most obedient child at seventeen. "The duke's truck broke down outside the entrance to the maze. Have it fixed and have our things taken to our quarters."

The older of the two guards straightened and nodded sharply. "Yes, Sir."

The Mystic Man's face was impassive but he noticed humor twinkling in them. "Has my sister and her family arrived?"

"Yes, Your Grace. They arrived yesterday. I'll have Sergeant Davis escort you to the steward." His voice was appropriately respectful and chastised so he made no mention of the fact that the men were unprepared to fend off an attack as the younger man quickly bowed again and indicated that they should follow him to the small palace in the distance.

As soon as they walked inside a wall of warm air swept over them and he sighed quietly in relief. He had been tired of the cold spring rain and the last hour had not made him any more favorable toward it. Sergeant Davis asked them politely to wait as he fetched the steward and disappeared around a corner. The Mystic Man ran his hand over his nearly baldhead as he rid himself of some water. "You do have a way of snapping people into line."

His lip quirked up. "Think that's part of my job description."

The duke simply shook his head. "Now that we're here consider yourself off duty. Finaqua has the best security in the realm." He opened his mouth and the Mystic Man raised his hand. "If you must check the rooms then don't let me stand in your way. I'll be with my sister and the girls. I'd like to introduce you to them tomorrow once you've rested and cleaned up if that's acceptable."

He was slightly taken aback by that. The duke must have a higher opinion of him than he had thought. He'd met the royal couple and one of their daughters before, at least in a loose sense. He'd been working palace security in Central City as part of a work rotation when Jeb was young, before Adora had gotten sick. They had seemed like pleasant enough people and the older princess had been lovely and serious. He recalled that the younger princess had been with his current employer at the time. In fact, she was the reason they were here now.

It was her birthday, or it would be in a week. The Mystic Man hadn't seen either of his nieces in over a year and hadn't seen Dorothy in almost four. He had been eager to spend an extra four days with her before the Gale line met the Consort in Central City. The younger princess was scheduled to have her twenty-first birthday ball in the Capital City. He had never met the younger princess but from what he had heard of her she was slightly unstable. It was no wonder her sister had been named heir apparent so young.

One day it would be reported that the younger princess had used her magic to save a village from a flash flood, in a place she shouldn't have been anywhere near, and the next week she would have been spotted tottering drunk through Sin District Square. Then all of a sudden she had vanished from public view. He hadn't thought much of it. She was royal and wasn't going to be his queen so what did it really matter?

However, when the duke had received a letter from Princess Azkadilla explaining that the three of them were going to be at Finaqua and would love for him to come if he could get away from his duties he had jumped at the chance. The Mystic Man was usually a pretty jolly fellow to begin with and when he got the invite he had practically buzzed with excitement, admittedly that could have been the magic. So he had pack his bags, shook off the worry over Jeb not being at home anymore, locked up and picked up the truck. This was the last time he left without looking under the hood first.

"If that's what you'd like I'd be honored."

The duke smiled, the lines around his eyes crinkling, as a man in blue uniform rounded the corner with the guard. He bowed gracefully at the waist. "Your Grace, I sincerely apologize for the wait. If you and your Tin Man will follow me I will show you to your room so you can refresh yourselves."

They followed the man down several halls and up a wide staircase as the steward spoke easily to them. "You're car is already in the garage. The Princess had it moved as soon as she was informed there was a problem." He assumed he meant by magic.

The Mystic Man nodded. "That was kind of her."

The steward tilted his head. "My men have your thing in your rooms and I will have one waiting for you outside to take you to the Her Majesty as soon as Your Grace would like. Is there anything else either of you require at the moment? Feel free to ask anyone for anything if you think of something later." That was a broad offer. The queen sure was welcoming.

"I believe we are quite fine." They had made it to the duke's room first and he stepped forward with a slight nod to the older man, ignoring the steward completely. The palace worker must be used to this because he made no protest as he edged the door open with his gun in hand and made a thorough sweep of the entire place before allowing the Mystic Man to enter.

When he exited the room the duke clapped him on the shoulder in farewell and shut the door behind him. The steward extended his arm and continued one more door down the hall before stopping again. "Your room, Tin Man. Again if you need anything all you have to do is ask."

He considered that. He was free for the rest of the night and he had no interest in being stuck in his room for another six hours before he managed to fall asleep. "I'd like to take a look at the truck once I dry off. How do I get to the garage?"

"The mechanics can take care of the problem."

He growled low in his throat not wanting to argue. The steward got the hint. "Go back down the stairs and take a left. At the second hall on the right take another left and then go down the staircase. Turn right immediately. You'll end up in the garage."

He tipped his still dripping hat. "Much obliged." The man nodded and handed him the key to his room.

He shut his own door and threw his duster over a chair near the fire that was blazing merrily in the hearth. His hat and boots followed shortly after as he searched his own room for signs of danger. Finding none he walked into the bedroom of his suite, impressed with the size of the rooms he had been given. Tossing his pack on top of a dresser he opened it and quickly unpacked it so no wrinkles would form in his clothing. Leaving a shirt and a pair of pants out he shrugged out of his holster before peeling off his moist clothes.

Once he was redressed he checked his boots and found them much drier than he had left them. Tugging them on he left his room after locking it behind him and headed down to the irritating truck. At least it was something to do that didn't involve getting shot at or chasing a crazy old man. It helped that the steward could give precise directions.

The garage was spacious and uncluttered. Like so many other places where machines were repaired it smelled like oil and metal, but as far as he could see it was very organized and by far the cleanest garage he had ever seen. There were a number of machines and automobiles scattered about the space, but in the far corner the old grey truck sat with its hood up and a slim man in black pants was leaning halfway inside of it. The man was so short his feet weren't even touching the ground.

His eyebrow twitched up. He hadn't thought mechanics worked this late in the day, not even for the duke. Walking silently across the clear space he spotted an open toolbox on the rim of the hood, which effectively blocked his view of the workers face. He heard a clank then a horrible metallic snap before the man; he spotted a grease-covered hand and changed that to a woman, lobbed the carburetor over her shoulder. He watched in horror as it hit the ground with a clatter.

They were never going to get back to Central City. They were going to be stuck in this wet paradise with the duke's crazy niece forever. This could not be happening. "What are you doing?" He shouted.

A small surprised face popped out from under the hood. The lines of grease and messy ponytail the young woman was sporting couldn't hide the fact that she was a true beauty. Her hair was a lovely shade of blue black and her eyes were the same color as a cloudless summer sky. She pushed a stray hair behind her ear, spreading some more grease very effectively. "I'm fixing this truck. What are you doing?" Her curious eyes pinned him to the flat cement floor.

Author Note: Oh! Oh guys this one is so good! I'm really excited about it! I know its an AU but give it a shot! Leave me one!