Disclaimer: not mine.
Rating: er. G.
Length: 1800+
Fandom: Tin Man
Set: post-mini-series.
Notes: Worst Ending Line Ever, Skiffy. Musicforcylons played a large part in the construction of the background for this little piece of sequel pie. I'm not sure if this was what you had in mind, but this is what appeared when I typed, yo.

A Life Without Wishing Wells
by ALC Punk!

The letter had been written painstakingly carefully. Not just because words didn't come easily to Cain, but because Glitch had allowed the ink to run dry and he'd had only a small amount left to use. Once finished, he'd addressed it and gone out to post it.

Cain wasn't sure whether the letter would reach his son or not, but he was hoping that it would. And that Jeb would come to live with him, in Central City. There would be room for him, and time for the two of them to relearn being father and son. It was a careful leap of faith, for Cain. He wasn't entirely sure what he could offer his son that he wouldn't find on his own. But Glitch had finally convinced him to at least ask him to visit.

If it didn't work out, then he would know. But seeing his boy would be enough, seeing the man he had become would give Cain a sort of peace he wasn't sure he deserved.

After dropping his letter at the post office, Cain made his way back through the market. It was a sunny and bright day in Central City, and the crowds around him bustled with people from every walk of life. Some were shopping, some were simply out for the air, a few were picking pockets (though these were smart enough to avoid him and take only as they needed). Walking through the crowds was still a new and strange experience after the years he'd been locked in his iron cage. There were days when he wasn't entirely sure he liked being out of the box. But then there were days like this one, where it seemed the world was breathing life into everyone and everything.

The smells of cooking fish took him down a side-street to buy a packet of slimy, salt-encrusted fish that fell apart as he bit into the first one, savoring the flavor.

He'd loved them when he used to work the City, and the salty taste brought back memories of different times. Laughter and smiles, his fellow Tin Men surrounding him. He'd been a part of something, once. A man with a purpose. Almost, he could feel the touch of a comrade's hand on his shoulder, smell the smoke of his old captain's pipe, hear the ribald jokes Jake used to tell to make their nights go quicker when the air cooled too quickly around them.

But the past was the past, a burned page shoved into the back of his memory. He stopped and looked at the half-finished fish, suddenly no longer hungry.

One of the smaller pickpockets whirled by him, and he caught the child by the shoulder. "Here."

She was gone in an instant, not even a word of thanks.

It brought back the reality: the OZ had long to go before it regained what it had once been. There were still too many displaced by Azkadelia's madness, too many left starving in the streets for it to be the land of light it had been when he was young.

Less interested in the day, Cain headed back to the house.

The queen had been kind in her largesse to those who had helped to save the realm. The townhouse wasn't in the best part of town, but neither was it in the worst. The plumbing worked, and the garret leaked only a little when it rained (Glitch was certain he could fix it, but he kept failing). It gave Cain a place to live, didn't cost him much, and wasn't infested with rats or spiders. He could live with a little damp and a stove which was probably older than the kingdom itself.

DG had said it was cute and homey, bouncing in that way of hers before she'd hugged them again and stepped back to reclaim her life as a Princess.

Not that begrudged her that life, but he was sad not to see her so often. Sometimes, he wondered whether she would remain the innocent girl once the airs and graces of the court had consumed her--he liked to think she would. But he was a realist. Her parents were something above his station, which meant that any friendship they might share would be changed, now she knew who she was.

Cain was a fairly simple man and laid blame on both their sides before dismissing the thoughts entirely.

The house was in the middle of a block, bracketed on either side by green-twisted facades with winks of gold that had seen better days. The facade of their house was a dark color, interspersed with cream and dark green accents. The windows were clean and the upper ones were open to let in the late-afternoon breeze. Glitch always said he slept better with the air fresh and the windows open. Cain let him have his little foibles.

Stepping onto the stoop, Cain frowned as he noted that the dark-lacquered door was ajar. Pushing it, and pleased that it had stopped its squeaking, he carefully stepped inside. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light, and his nose told him something was up before his ears did.

There was the sound of conversation from the kitchen, as well as scents that weren't entirely bad. Cain spared a thought for his clean cookware, abused by Glitch.

Walking towards the heart of the house, the smells intensified. Definitely not the worst thing he'd put under his nose, but he'd reserve judgment once he'd discovered how destroyed the kitchen was. He'd cleaned that morning, leaving everything in its place. And maybe he was a little obsessed with that, but Cain thought there should be a careful order to the universe, especially when Glitch had no order to speak of.

"--then a pinch of paprika!" Glitch's voice echoed into the hall, exuberant and pleased with itself.

Something which was almost a giggle followed his pronouncement. Glitch definitely had company. Cain laid odds with himself that it would be a passel of street urchins. Or the family from up the street. Or Raw and his ward, though the latter two would be welcome. Aware that he was possibly about to play the ogre if it were people he wished would leave, Cain stepped into the kitchen.

A soundless noise escaped the kitchen's other occupant as Glitch went on with his cooking demonstration. Cain stared at her for a moment, before eying the mess of mixing bowls and measuring cups on the red and yellow-spattered counter.

"Cain!" Glitch whirled with a smile, "That is your name, yes?"

He was teasing, of course. They hadn't been able to restore his full brain, but most of the parts worked correctly now. Mostly. Cain simply stared at him.

"I--I should--"

She was getting up, awkward in her own body, as though she was still uncertain that it was quite hers. The trousers and shirt she wore were similar to things DG had once had, but they were tailored to fit her, except for where they hung too loose. Cain stopped her, reaching out and touching her arm. She flinched. "What were you making?" Cain asked, refusing to discuss matters of a serious nature yet.

"Spaghetti!" exclaimed Glitch, pounding his ladle on the edge of the pot. "And muffins, although they might be cupcakes, Azkadelia and I aren't quite decided as of yet, are we?"

"Muffins," the Princess replied, the color returning to her cheeks.

"Cupcakes," Glitch contradicted.

"Spaghetti?" asked Cain, looking a little perturbed at the idea of the two of them baking anything, let alone something that they would expect him to eat. Well, Azkadelia wouldn't, but Glitch would.

"And garlic bread." Apparently having decided that, since he hadn't shot her on sight, she could be comfortable, Azkadelia relaxed and almost smiled as she looked at him, "It's a dish DG and her adoptive parents used to make. She was telling me about it one day, so I thought... I thought we'd try it."

"You thought you'd try it here," Cain said, looking as puzzled as he felt.

"Actually, that was Raw's idea--he believed that Glitch might be able to figure out the recipe." Looking younger, Azkadelia smiled at Glitch, her eyes and manner almost child-like for a moment. "And Glitch thought it might be a grand idea."

Glitch had forgiven her, or perhaps he'd forgotten the things she'd done to him. Cain figured that was Glitch's lookout. As for him, he wasn't so sure. Azkadelia might have been possessed by the evil witch, but she still looked the same, still spoke as a Princess. He supposed that might have to do with her upbringing, but it was the same sort of airs that DG was slowly beginning to gain, and so he resented them.

At least, until she forgot to guard herself. And then the careful child she'd once been showed through, the one who'd been studious and willing to stand against the dark. A dark to which she'd fallen, and was slowly overcoming again. Like now, laughing with Glitch and arguing cheerfully about muffins and cupcakes, and the nomenclature to be used.

"Are they in little paper cups?" Cain interrupted them to ask.

Both froze, then looked at him, "Cups!" Glitch informed him with a big grin.

"Then I'm afraid, Princess--"

"Please. Azkadelia will do," she said, her eyes still bright and clear.

"Princess," he continued, not quite ready to allow her the luxury of her own name again, "Glitch is right. They're cupcakes."

"Ha!" Glitch crowed, swinging his ladle in victory, and spraying them all with bright red tomato sauce, "Score one for the brainless!"

Azkadelia giggled, the sound infectious. "Your sauce is boiling over, Glitch!"

"And we're covered in it," Cain said dryly, as Glitch turned back to his pot, making agitated noises and spinning the gas down. Reaching for a towel, Cain cleaned the sauce from his shirt, then held it out to Azkadelia, "You've got a little on your dress, Princess."

"Oh! Thank you." She smiled distractedly at him, taking the towel and scrubbing at the spots on her clothing. Her fingernails were ragged, torn down to the nail bed, nearly. With a flick, she tossed the towel on the table and tucked her hands back into her lap, hiding the evidence of her disquiet.

It occured to him that she, too, must be fighting to regain her sense of self. Cain had only been locked within a steel box, Azkadelia had been a prisoner in her own mind. He wondered for a moment, if her senses sometimes reeled when she walked within a crowd, too.

"Azkadelia," he wasn't sure if it was the nails or the giggle that decided him. Cain reached out and touched her, pleased that she didn't flinch this time, "You are welcome here."

The smile she gave him was shy, "Thank you, Cain."

A sound from the stove made them turn to find that Glitch had succeeded in setting himself on fire. Cain dropped his hand from her shoulder and waded into the fray with a curse and a sigh. Perhaps that letter should have asked his son if he could move out there to live with him.

-f-