Disclaimer: Ownership is such a funny thing. As V says, you can not kill an idea. I don't own Tin Man. Duh.


She didn't mean to be always running away. It was just that bits DG's past would suddenly flash before her eyes and she would feel the overwhelming urge to trace the elusive memory to its source. Perhaps running off blindly after glimpses of days long gone was not the best policy, but DG found she could not help herself. A sight, a sound, a smell, all she needed was a trigger and off she went again, blind to all around her. It was fortunate that it was location evoked memories of childish exploits, thus she generally did not have to go far to recapture whatever moment in time had chosen to present itself. It was also fortunate that her self-appointed bodyguard was always right behind her, ready to pull her out of any mischief she might get into.

Wyatt Cain had been following DG as she chased after her memories since the day he met her. He was quite familiar with the expression on her face that indicated she was about to go running off after a memory, requiring that he in turn must go chasing off after her. Once upon a time he would stop a moment to contemplate before following after the erratic princess, but no longer, now it seemed his feet started moving even before hers did.

Usually her wanderings were perfectly harmless. As adventurous as she'd been as a child, she still could only go as far as little legs could take her before concerned adults would arrive to fetch her back, thus her wanderings from such places as Finaqua were quite innocuous. Sure there were bears and other such wild animals in the woods but that was nothing Cain, or indeed DG, could not handle with ease. Her adventures in such places as Central City were slightly more troublesome. Not only did the city contain a great deal of people and an endless maze of streets for the princess to get lost in, but the city itself was no longer as clean and safe as it had been when she was a child. Fortunately for DG, however, the former Tin Man had a penchant for starting conversations with his fists and ending them with his gun and the princess always came out of the situation none the worse for wear. Her escapades in the Northern Island, however, were another story all together.

There really shouldn't have been any problems, there wasn't even anyone around at the Northern Island, but that in the end was the problem. You couldn't really hit nature, Cain found himself musing as he surveyed his surroundings, and all the shooting in the world wasn't going to change the weather. The caves he found himself in, he admitted, could be considered pretty, if there hadn't been the imminent danger of freezing to death. On a more practical side, they did provide a bit of shelter. All in all it could be worse.

"Well, Princess," he said at last, "how did this particular memory go?"

"Pretty much like this," DG replied from her place snuggled up by his side underneath his jacket – for warmth of course, "Only there wasn't a handy Tin Man on hand the last time around. I wanted to explore the pretty caves, there was a blizzard, we got trapped, and Azkadelia had to conjure up a magic fire to keep us warm."

"Sorry I can't make magic fires, Kiddo."

"That's ok," she replied smiling, "I prefer the real kind, they smell nicer." She had no idea where he'd found the wood, never mind how he'd gotten it to burn, though she didn't really care. It was a small fire, but it helped.

"I aim to please, Princess," he replied, his hands rubbing against her arms and back – for warmth of course.

It took the search party nearly five hours to find them, by which time the fire was nearly out and both princess and Tin Man were barely able to keep their eyes open. Nevertheless the appearance of the first would be rescuer in the cave mouth was greeted by the ominous sound of a pistol hammer being drawn back. Which was precisely why Glitch had let one of the Royal Guards go first, he knew from experience that a hypothermic Cain was not an incapacitated Cain. They also learned that they would only be removing DG from his cold dead fingers, and while he was certainly cold he was certainly not dead. Since they had no intention of killing the former Tin Man turned bodyguard, the rescue party had no choice but to carry them back to the winter palace on the same stretcher.

Glitch was not surprised by this. Since the day of the eclipse one hardly ever saw DG without the Tin Man lurking somewhere in her shadow. In the aftermath of the battle, most had rested enough to get back on their feet in order to return home and rebuild, Cain, however, had simply stayed. DG's parents had been a bit disgruntled at first – the kid wanders, someone's got to pull her out of trouble was all he offered by way of explanation – but as it soon became apparent that you couldn't separate the two with a crowbar (one person tried, luckily it was a glancing blow, unlike the Tin Man's return shot) they decided they might as well make it official. They hadn't been planning to assign the princess a particular bodyguard but the Queen and her Consort were learning that they really didn't have much say where DG was concerned. Where DG went the Tin Man followed end of story.

"Well Kiddo," said Tin Man asked as the stretcher rocked beneath them, "where next?"

"I don't know," DG replied sleepily, snuggling up further against him – for warmth of course, "I have this strange sense of bright suns and hot sands...does the O.Z. have any deserts?"

The Tin Man did not quite sigh; he merely readjusted his hat and resigned himself, set on getting what rest he could while he could. She didn't really mean to run off all the time, she just had this habit of wandering, and somebody had to look out for her.