Nothing if Not a Masochist
Disclaimer: If I had owned Tin Man, we'd all be watching a TV series of it at the moment like what was being proposed. I blame John Adams for stealing all the miniseries awards which I think sunk our chance for a Tin Man television series.
Author's Note: Another installment in the Lost Snapshots series. This does not fit into a specific moment in the series, rather just snippets into Cain's mind during and slightly after the series. This is the ranking winner of the poll on my profile that asked you to vote to determine the next fanfiction to be released. So, thank you to everyone who voted, and I hope you enjoy. Please, as always review.
Nothing if Not a Masochist
Some people go their whole lives looking for true love. Some never find it at all. Wyatt Cain found it twice. It was a fact that drove him mad and filled him with guilt simultaneously. Adora was his true love—his soul mate. How could he have his heart betray her when for years it had belonged to her and her alone? Those same feelings that he was sure would never come again now resurfacing—the object of his affections off limits in everyway. DG was half his age, one of his best friends, and soon to be the queen of The OZ, not to mention seeing suitors on a regular basis.
He hadn't always felt that way about her. During their trek through the OZ he had felt nothing but distain for her. The young girl was just another duty—someone whom he had to try and protect. Why should he try to ever protect someone again when he had failed to protect the two people who mattered the most to him? What if he couldn't protect her like he couldn't protect his family? Or worse, what if he could? What would it mean if he succeeded in keeping this young girl from harm when Adora and Jeb had died because he couldn't save them? Would it indicate that he cared more about her safety than his wife and child's? He called her "kid" in an attempt to distance himself from her, to adhere to the rigid hierarchy he created in his mind to remind himself of where she stood in relation to himself.
Slowly though, his attitude began to change. "Kid" changed to an affectionate "kiddo", and the longer he stayed with her the more he saw her for who she really was. She was compassionate, intelligent, aggressive when driven by injustice, and yet so very naive. He began to find her naivety endearing by the time they entered Central City, but he never in his wildest dreams expected to feel the pull to her that he did, or the guilt that raked him when she professed her disillusionment of what Tin Men stood for—what he stood for. Her exact words were "You're not a killer, you're a Tin Man!" He reminded himself that he owed her nothing, but she had already done her damage. He didn't want to disappoint her, to shatter her innocence. And he hated that he felt it was his duty to protect her from that too—to maintain the naivety that he found so compelling. So he did the only thing he knew how to do—he distanced himself from her. He played up his apathetic side and said his goodbyes. Of course, as fate would have it, their paths intertwined yet again, and this time he knew that he had no choice but to be her protector. That's all he was though, a father figure to her. So he was surprised yet again when the Mystic Man inadvertently informed him that she was a princess and he felt jealousy, hurt, and a wistful feeling to be of a higher rank—to be her equal—to be worthy of her affections. Never before had he desired to accept the promotions offered to him. He liked working the streets; he found it more satisfying than sitting behind some desk calling shots. Now, however, he found himself feeling inadequate, and he wished he had accepted the offers when they had presented themselves all those years ago.
He would have liked to tell himself that the feeling had gone as quickly as it had come, and those emotions and feelings of no self worth had never resurfaced, but that would be a lie. They lingered in the back of his mind all the time, but he did his best to ignore them. Emotions were something he was very good at suppressing. He would have liked to have told himself it was to honor the wishes of the Mystic Man that he agreed to stay and protect her: it was his duty as a citizen of the OZ, that he protect the princess, but his civic duty or his old protection detail's wishes were the last rationale for his decision to stay with her and offer his protection. His "kiddo" was now his "princess", and he couldn't stop the word from leaving his tongue with such bitterness and distain dripping from it. His hierarchy was irreversibly shattered, and he found himself a bit hurt at the realization of where he stood in relation to her.
Nevertheless, they continued onward, and eventually his respect for her turned into friendship. He told himself she reminded him of the daughter he never had, but the feelings she stirred inside of him whenever she would brush against him, or worse: hug him, made him realize he was not seeing her in a paternal way. So he managed to attempt to convince himself that he was seeing her as a friend, as an equal. He knew a lowly ex-Tin Man shouldn't see the princess of The OZ as an equal, but she had been his DG before he knew she was his princess. He still couldn't wrap his mind around it entirely. He also couldn't remember the point she stopped being "kiddo" and became his DG.
Wyatt Cain had always been a man very aware of his feelings—even if he didn't act on them. He considered it to be a blessing, and part of the reason he had excelled as a Tin Man. That's why, even as he knelt crying over the crudely made grave of his former wife, he was conscious of DG's hand on his shoulder, silently offering her condolences for a woman she had never met. Seeing her tears brought on by no other reason than his own misery, Cain was touched by her sincerity. It caused him pain that any lingering hope of Adora's continued life be extinguished for good, but there was something else that accompanied it. It was closure that Wyatt recognized as the feeling. He felt horrible for thinking it, but it almost felt like a bit of a relief to know that Adora's fate was sealed. He had spent so many years locked away, he had made peace with his wife's death. His heart had only begun to heal in the presence of this young girl, half his age, with big eyes and an even bigger heart, and the news of the possibility of the life of the wife he had buried in his mind only served to fill him with an immense guilt and self-hatred that he had moved on so readily. Yet here the proof stood, clear as day as his tears wet the ground which held the body of his dead wife. He allowed himself to shed the tears so long overdue, and finally pay the resects for the wife whom he had loved, the wife whom he had lost long before her death.
On they continued with their journey, and while Cain couldn't exactly place the feeling he felt toward DG, he knew something had changed. He could feel it in the air when they were together, he could feel it in the touch they shared when they'd hug, and he could feel it in the way his heart pounded whenever he thought about her. When she had been taken from him on their quest to find Ahamo, Cain felt the same pain he had felt when he watched his wife and child being taken from him. But he knew this time would be different. He knew DG needed his help, and he would never forgive himself for failing to protect her, but he also knew DG was strong, and she would fight back. He had to believe it. It was the only thought the kept him going until he could make his way back to her.
Eventually, Wyatt would see that moment in their journey as one of the best things that could have happened. When he was taken away, he reconnected with Jeb, and he could never regret that. Still, being reminded of his former life left an unpleasant feeling of guilt with him. He saw the hurt in his son's eyes when he chose to leave Jeb for DG after they had only just been reconnected, but Wyatt stood firm in his decision. He knew that DG needed him, and that was enough for him.
He couldn't make his horse ride fast enough, even though he was far ahead of Glitch and Raw as he hurriedly followed DG's Tutor to where she was, waiting for him. The relief he felt when he saw her flooded him, and the ever stoic man couldn't hide his emotions as he ran toward her and encompassed her in a hug. In that moment, Cain wanted to tell her how glad he was that she was okay, that despite the irrationality of it, he had grown so close to her over the last couple days, and that he knew his life wouldn't be the same without her, yet instead, he swallowed back the thoughts and emotions, and asked her what she would probably find more pleasant than the ramblings of some older, washed out Tin Man. He asked her where the emerald was.
The journey continued, and Cain became increasingly conscious of just how much she had affected him. When they reached the tower he watched from a distance as she rallied the sprits of Raw and Glitch. In that moment, the pride he felt for her exploded, and the man typically so composed had to fight back the urge to tell her how much she meant to him. But, he let the moment pass, promising himself that she was strong, and would make it through, even though a part of him was screaming that he didn't know what their future held, and he couldn't let things end like this—so much left unsaid. Yet that's exactly what happened as he hugged her tightly, regretting every second he stood there saying nothing.
Once in the tower, although for the most part, he was far to consumed with trying to reverse the sun seeder, a part of him was admonishing himself for not being with DG, not having a guarantee of her safety. For the first time, he couldn't lie even to himself of where his feelings for her stood. He was sure that what he felt for her was love—although he wished nothing more than to be able to stop loving the girl he was sure deserved far better than what he could offer. Nevertheless, with the revelation, he promised himself that if they both lived through the battle, he would tell her of his feelings. When the battle was finished he bounded through the castle, searching wildly for her, just to know she was okay. He opened door after door, Glitch and Raw struggling to keep up with him, until finally he threw open a door and caught sight of her. His heart pounded, as he stood at the doorway watching her with her family, thanking anyone who would listen to him for keeping her safe, and realizing that DG wasn't a girl at all, but a woman more mature and stronger than Cain had given her credit for. He swallowed hard as he saw her turn to him last, ready to embrace him. He didn't try to resist as she flung her arms around him, and he memorized the way she felt pressed against him. Still, he said nothing, dismissing the promises he made to himself moments before, and ignoring the shocks he felt throughout his body from her touch.
Now, about a year after the eclipse, The OZ was nearly fully restored, and DG's coronation was soon approaching. Cain had stayed on at the palace, assigned as personal security for DG. He had to admit, it was more than a handful, but the way he saw it, he didn't trust DG's life with anyone else, and it gave him an excuse to be near to her. So, day after day, he was forced to be a part of DG's life, watching her sit through suitor after suitor, charming them all, just as she had charmed him. The jealousy burned through him at every hug or touch she bestowed upon another man, and rage encompassed him at every touch a man gave her.
It became harder and harder for Cain to control himself, to swallow down the words that flew to his mouth every time he was alone with her—the words to tell her just how much he loved her. The way Cain saw it, when the price of his silence was his sanity, it was only so long before something gave. He knew the day was coming, the day when he would have to tell her how much she had transformed him, and how deep his love for her was, but at every opportunity he had, he stifled the feeling, convincing himself that she could never feel the same way for an old man like him, convinced that the touches and glances and smiles she saved just for him were nothing more than a mark of her friendship—if they existed at all.
On the eve of DG's coronation, as he stood across the room, his eyes glued on her, completely transfixed with the way she moved gracefully across the dance floor, he pretended it was him who held her in his arms, instead of the suitor whom was making her laugh at the moment. He glared daggers at the other man, furious that the man felt he had the right to dance with her, when his attention turned to the man standing next to him. Glitch had approached him and was chatting incessantly about the procedure tomorrow for the coronation, when suddenly Cain looked back to where DG had been dancing. He was confused when he couldn't see her, and his gaze frantically searched the room. His adrenaline started pumping, worried she had left the party with the man, or worse, taken by some rebel Longcoat. He quickly excused himself from Glitch's company and began taking the length of the room in long strides, until finally he caught sight of her silver dress billowing through the window panes of the balcony door. He made his way though the crowd and stood in the doorway of the balcony, watching her as she stood bent over the railing, looking down onto the grounds below.
He cleared his throat and she turned around quickly, Cain's stomach catching in his throat as caught sight of her through the moonlight night. She was a far cry different than when he first met her, dressed now in an elegant dress instead of her jeans and sneakers, yet he knew that the DG he had met, the DG he had fallen in love with was the real DG, and she was probably far too uncomfortable in her heels and dress and all the attention she was receiving from suitors and the press and other distinguished guests, as well as the odd citizen who would approach her, thanking her a million times over for saving them all from the witch's reign of darkness. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and spoke first.
"Beautiful night, eh princess?"
He had expected her to return his comment with some easy banter of her own, but things were never so simple with DG. What he received was a glare from DG as she stomped up to him, standing inches from his face.
"No, Cain. Not a good night. My feet hurt, I can't breathe in this stupid dress, and the next man I have to dance with, smiling politely while he smothers me with his fake charms will probably find himself with a bruise from where I kicked him in the shins. And you know what Cain? I'm tired!"
Cain tried to suppress the happiness he felt at the prospect of DG kicking her suitors in the shins, as he told her "If you're tired, I'm sure you can excuse yourself and head off to your room for the night."
This only caused DG to release a grunt of exasperation as she raised herself onto the balls of her feet to try and look Cain square in the eyes. "You don't understand. I'm tired of waiting for you. I'm tired of waiting for you to make some grand move and tell me that I'm not the only one who feels the sparks whenever we're in the same room, or that all the moments we have mean something. I'm tired of thinking you'll come around and maybe love me as much as I love you, that maybe you have smiles and laughs that you save just for me. Well it's okay Mr. Cain. I get it. You don't have to worry about the stupid little girl and her silly crush on you. I'll leave you alone now. There's no need for me to embarrass myself any longer. I can see that now."
Wyatt imagined scooping her up in his arms and telling her that he loved her just as much—more than she could possibly love him, even though he thought she was making a mistake with someone like him. He imagined kissing her, and holding her, and never letting go. But he didn't. Cain was sure that now that he knew where she stood, the voice that always managed to convince him she didn't return his feelings would be silenced. He also knew that things had changed, and it was only a matter of time before told her just how much she meant to him, but that night, in that moment, he let her walk away, and watched, keeping his mouth shut tight as she walked away, back to the party where she put on her best smile and accepted the dance from the handsome young suitor who approached her, knowing it should be him who held her tight, who appreciated her far more than the young man did, and doing nothing to make it that way.
After all—Wyatt Cain was nothing if not a masochist.
Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed. I also hope you see that in the timeline of this story, had it continued, Cain would of course have told DG how he feels, just not that night. Anyway, Please review.