Disclaimer: I do not own Tin Man. That privilege belongs to SyFy. Everything else is simply a product of my fevered mind. :)
Suggested Listening: "The Shape of Things to Come" from the Tudors soundtrack (Season 2)
Nights were the worst. There was no Glitch babbling away in the background about parsecs or hegemony or whatever else was on his mind, none of Raw's soothing presence, or her parents' gentle dialogue. Even Cain's silence was overshadowed by the sheer strength of his persona. Worst of all, there was no DG, whose sheer lightness of being burned away her own encroaching darkness. Her Light, it seemed, was no longer enough to keep the shadows at bay.
Nights were the worst because they meant she was alone in the fight against her demons. Oh, she knew that there were doors that would always remain open to her no matter the time, but she refused to be a child, for all that her childhood had been cut drastically short. She would not curl up in her parents' bed, or DG's for that matter. She still had pride, though pride was too small of a bandage to cover her wounds. It was hardly even a cure.
Pride could not keep her from enduring night after night of waking nightmares, horrible dreams where she was not sure if she was really asleep or awake. Fractured images, half-remembered actions, and screams. Always the screams. Some were hers; the agonized wails of a girl trapped inside a body that was no longer hers to control. Most were the result of what that body wrought. She thought she would go mad hearing the screams, and only then she would wonder if she wasn't already mad.
Madness was avoiding mirrors as much as possible or spending hours in front of them. She would examine every line, every freckle, every feature, searching to reassure herself that the person that gazed back at her was Azkadellia. Other times she trained her gaze away from any reflective surfaces, terrified that she would find the witch staring right back at her, as she had for so many years. During the day, she was assured of being solitary within her skin. At night, she couldn't be sure that she was entirely alone.
The witch's voice had always been strongest at night. She didn't need to sleep. Instead, she spent her time solidifying her hold over her host, her voice dripping venom and lies until Azkadellia could no longer distinguish them from the truth. Worse, she was no longer certain that every horror the witch wrought was entirely of her doing. Perhaps she'd been tainted. The witch was a void, a black hole at the center of her soul that inexorably dragged everything into it, even her Light.
Every night, the witch would shift through her memories, playing them over and over in her mind's eye until they were seared there. Her mother, who had always doted on DG. Her father, who clearly loved her best, but was always away on diplomatic missions and other duties of the crown. And DG, her spoiled but beloved younger sister, the one who dragged her into that horrible cave, setting the witch's reign in motion by allowing her to take the body of her sister.
Azkadellia sat up in bed, panting. She would not, could not blame DG. For a long time, she had. But she was a child, she couldn't have known. And she'd saved her in the end. There was nothing to blame her for. DG was the reason why she was free.
You cannot escape me, little one. She knew that voice, high, grating, and terrifying in her head. You can never be free of me. I am always here.
She curled into herself. A large, gilt-framed mirror hung right in front of her bed. She would not look into it.
Look in the mirror, the voice taunted. She shuddered, refusing. Look, it insisted. Look at how I've shaped you. Everything you are, I've created. You're just like me.
She shook her head, which was buried between her knees, her arms crossed protectively over it. "I'm nothing like you," she said vehemently.
Is that any way to thank me, Princess? That voice was cruel and mocking. Who taught you the full extent of your power?
"It hurt people," she whispered.
They were fools who could not accept change. And who was it that finally turned your mother's attention on you?
Her head shot up, dark hair tossing wildly about her pale face. "She hated me! She hated me – you – for killing DG! I have nothing to thank you for and every reason to damn you." Her lips twisted. "And you are damned."
I killed DG? Her laughter was merciless. Don't blame me for acting on your wishes. Admit that you were jealous of her. Your mother favored her and forgot about you. You had every reason to want to kill her. After all, didn't she let me have you?
"No. No." She clamped her hands over her ears. "I'm not listening."
Look at me. Look at me. Look at me, for I am you.
"No!" With a roar of sheer terror and rage, Azkadellia vaulted over her bed, lunging at the mirror. Her fingers scrabbled desperately at the heavy frame before she sent the entire thing crashing to the ground, the shards tinkling as they hit the cold stone floor. For one horrifying moment, she saw the witch's face reflected in the tiny pieces of glass. With a terrified shriek, she fell to her hands and knees, desperate to break each and every shard further, even when her fingers went slippery with blood.
The bright scarlet hue calmed her somewhat. The witch had bled black.
She was only vaguely aware of her bedroom door slamming open. "Az!" DG cried, cornflower blue eyes wide with panic, her long curly hair a riot about her shoulders. Wyatt Cain was close on her heels, pistol at the ready. "Az, you're bleeding!"
Azkadellia turned wide, unseeing eyes towards the commotion. "I'm not her, I'm not her," she repeated over and over, blindly reaching for the next piece.
DG felt to her knees beside her sister, trying to pry the glass from her fingers, gritting her teeth as her own palm got sliced in the process. "Cain, please get Raw!" The former Tin Man nodded and left the room just as Ahamo and the Queen came running in.
"Az!" Ahamo grabbed his daughter's hands. "Az, it's all right." He gathered her into his arms, heedless to the blood. "It's all right. Daddy's here."
Queen Lavender knelt beside her husband and eldest daughter, stroking her hair and humming a lullaby as Azkadellia shuddered. DG took her sister's hand, their blood mingling as bright light glowed from where they joined.
Azkadellia barely registered when Raw came into the room and gently took her hands in his, healing them.
"Raw, please, what's wrong with her?" DG pleaded.
"Hear voices. Remember bad things." Raw looked at the older princess with sorrowful eyes. "Not whole." She shuddered violently. The Viewer put a hand on her forehead. "Sleep." Azkadellia slumped back into her father's arms.
"What did you do?" Ahamo asked.
"Give dreamless sleep. Important she not sleep alone for a while."
"She can stay with me," DG said firmly, her tone brooking no argument.
She sat vigil beside her sister the whole night, wracked with guilt. Az had been dreaming about the witch, she knew it. She had been a fool to think it was all behind them now. "Az, how long has this been going on?" she whispered. She took her hand once more. The light glowed brightly despite the bandages. Crystal tears dripped onto the bedcovers. "I'm sorry, Az. I'm so sorry."
Azkadellia did not stir, and slept on.