Disclaimer: I do not own Tin Man but I do own Lord Fonteroy, he's growing on me so I shall claim him.

Author's Note: Some seriousness crept into this one, it worries me.


...

Once upon a time there was a good and beautiful princess. She was of the brave and generous sort, ready to risk life and limb for the greater good, strangers, and puppies. Facing adversity, the lost and amnesiac girl had overcome all obstacles to eventually save the world. In this quest she had had strong and loyal companions, ever ready to lay down their lives to protect her, and they were a real pain in the ass. Well, one of them was anyhow. At least, that's what Lord Fonteroy thought Princess-call-me-DG had been trying to say. Given that she was well on her way to blind, forget-everything-the-next-day drunk and he was right behind her it is possible he may have confused a few of the finer points. Regardless, her woes were soon to be over: Lord Fonteroy had a plan.

Truly it was a plan. He'd considered a plot, but that would require a few mental twists he did not feel his inebriated mind was currently capable of. To make himself feel better he decided it was a dastardly plan. There was the small caveat in his mind that the state of intoxication was not one best suited for the making of plots or plans, dastardly or not. However, since that sounded somewhat like intelligence and he couldn't really recall ever listening to that he decided to carry on. Drunk is not a time to be trying new things.

Not that he'd intended to get drunk. In all actuality, Lord Fonteroy had been sitting in the tavern watching his friends enjoying themselves and wishing he had the stomach to join them. Sadly, his first stay in the tin suit was still having its effect. When the crown princess of the O.Z. dropped into the chair across from him and slammed a drink down in front of him he'd nearly lost his dinner for more than one reason.

If Lord Fonteroy's first experience had given the young noble a healthy fear of the Tin Man his second encounter had cemented it in place. The only mildly merciful occurrence in the whole thing was when one of the kitchen staff got tired of The Great Verbosity's billionth rendition of the door sign and switched him to a new channel. The young lord knew all about phobias now. He quite understood why Cain and DG had been so furious with him for locking them in the cellar, but, really, how was a fellow supposed to know? If he didn't know that phobias entailed an unreasonable fear of the object in question he would have sworn he'd developed a whole new one: Cainophobia. His fear was perfectly justified, however, and therefore not a psychological condition.

This all being so, he was less than eager to be the princess' drinking buddy. Not to mention it had been terribly rude of them to forget all about him when they left the Northern Palace. The silence had been nice, but still. It had taken over a month for someone to come back for him and since when the Tin Man closes a door he nails it shut it had taken hours to free the captive. Not to mention everyone had been worried about the sign.

It was not terribly surprising, therefore, that the young lord replied to the princess' request with a semi-firm no. He'd really meant it, too, but then she'd gone and done this wide blue eyed thing. Lord Fonteroy might have astonished his father by putting his foot down regarding his disinclination to court, woo, or even be near the crown princess but something about that look weakened him. A nebulous thought informed him that it was not good to let people drink alone. Also, his father had stressed that even nobility had to follow the dictates of royalty (that would be why he'd been ordered to court the princess in the first place). Overcoming his nausea, Lord Fonteroy had reached for the drink.

Neither was entirely sure when or how they'd ended up talking about DG's – maybe – love life. Fonteroy thought it was sometime after he'd admitted that his full name was Bartholomew Fortius Fonteroy. The princess had been unreasonably gleeful at this announcement and promptly began referring to him as her BFF. Personally, the young lord thought it to be an atrocious expression, but as she later admitted his father had been extremely cruel in the naming of his son the young man was mollified. She even promised not to mention it to anyone.

Some hours later, having been happily reunited with his beloved alcohol and reassured as to his conviction that the crown princess made a good drinking buddy, Lord BFF came upon the workings of his plan. Really, it seemed too bad that a girl couldn't save the world and get her fellow, too. He did wonder, seeing as she was royalty, why she didn't simply command the Tin Man to marry her. Must be a female thing. That was alright, though, she had the dastardly plotter-planner to make things right, all he needed was to find the man.

Cain, it was duly noted, seemed to be in less than the friendliest of moods when the young lord pounded on his door some time later. It was apparent from the Tin Man's state of dress that he had just returned from some patrol or other. The last thing he wanted was to have the drunken Lord Foolhardy on his doorstep.

"Yoooou are an asho'," Lord Fonteroy stated firmly.

The Tin Man blinked. So did the young lord, he was pretty sure that wasn't supposed to be the opening line. Oh well, it would do.

"You fink u'r soooo great," Fonteroy slurred emphatically, "Biiiiiig gun, scarewe wookin' facesh. Yooo shave pwinsesh, good, shave kingdome, ev'n betta, bu' then wha? You do not'ing. Fink it make a gurl happy you always 'round wit the protectin' but not doin' anyfing? Left hangin' she is. No' ta menshion is hard on a fella, awways gettin' thumped for tryin' ta get near 'er."

Cain watched with trepidation as the young lord paused to martial his thoughts. The Tin Man was feeling confused, astonished, and more than a little nervous regarding the noble's mental state.

"Is that all?" he asked warily.

"I dareshay it's not!" Lord Fonteroy retorted, firing up, "there sho mush more. Shomegfing about too mush honour, overshtuff'd shense of nobiddity...alsho not too old. Not shure I 'gree wiff dat, whateffa. Oh, an' someting 'bout butt. Not really understan'ing dat. I'ma breast man meeself. Not dat you haf breasts. Whish is good 'cause dat be kinda freakish no' to menshion dishtactin' an' I'ma tryin' ta haf a sherious convershasion 'ere."

It was obvious from his expression that the Tin Man really had no idea how to respond to this. "Look Fonteroy," he began gently.

"No you look Shir Lurksalot," the lord interrupted, "yooo ca' stand 'round bein' all noble but is no' fair ta th' gurl. She dun care. Wan's oo she wan's an'a you weave 'er hangin'. 'eart all confused or someting like dat. Gurl shays lots."

"Who?!" Cain demanded with sudden foreboding.

"DG, off course," Fonteroy replied, "wha' 'ou fink I drink wif Ashadeeya? Too scawee, no' 'app'nin'."

"Where is she?" the Tin Man cut in.

"Ashadeeya? No ideel, try an' avoid 'er."

"Not Azkadellia, DG..." Cain attempted to clarify.

"Oh DG," Fonteroy interrupted, "gurl's a mesh she is. Shobbing o'er da ale when she's no' danshing on da table. Shpilled da whishkey she did. 'ave yoo effa had Uddershide whishkey? Li' notting you effa..."

"Never mind the bloody whiskey," the Tin Man growled, "where is DG?"

"No need ta shout. She's at De Milo'sh new place, yoo kno', in Shin Shquare?"

"You left her there alone?!!" Cain bellowed.

"Well yesh," Lord Fonteroy explained, "She dinna wanna leaf."

But the Tin Man was already gone, moving so fast he almost forgot his hat.

When De Milo saw Wyatt Freaking Cain coming he tried desperately to hide. Since that didn't work he attempted to plead ignorance and that he was just about to call the Tin Man. He was unconscious before he finished his second sentence.

DG, Cain discovered upon entering the main room, was introducing the O.Z. to the concept of pole dancing. The uprights had been intended as mere structural support but would doubtless be re-tasked in the future. Fortunately for all present, the princess had opted to retain her clothes, that or she couldn't figure out how to get them off, either was possible. One man was foolish enough to endeavour to put a hand on the drunken girl; a bullet through the offending limb educated him as to the error of his ways.

"Cain!" DG called. Then, to his absolute horror, she burst into tears.

Striding swiftly forward, the Tin Man scooped her up in his arms and, casting a quelling glare around the room, carried her back out into the night. Half an hour later he'd hauled her back to the palace, dunked her head under the tap a few times and tucked her into bed. Eyeing her contemplatively, he sat down in a nearby chair to await the morning.

DG was not the happiest person in the O.Z. when the suns rose early the next day. It seemed as if every hangover she'd never experienced had decided to visit her all at once. Her head hurt, her body ached, her stomach was training to climb Mt. Everest...and there was a very grim looking Tin Man sitting beside her bed.

"You do realize," Cain said the moment her eyes met his, "that that was an extremely stupid, irresponsible and dangerous thing you did last night."

The princess blinked.

"I do not know how you got out," he continued, heads rolling in his tone, "but you might have thought to consider what you put me through given the recent assassination attempt on the royal family. You should remember it, Princess, you were there."

DG winced.

"Would you care to explain yourself?" the Tin Man asked his voice unforgiving.

Explanations did not come easily to the crown princess. It was rare for her to indulge in self-centered, selfish behaviour, but last night it had all seemed too much, she'd needed to escape. This morning she felt awful for more reasons than the physical, she could only imagine how Cain had felt when he found out she was not in the Palace.

"I'm sorry," she said softly, "It's just...I just...I couldn't...You got shot three times Cain. Three times, bang, bang, bang, right in front of me, while guarding me, and what did that change? Nothing. You fight off anyone who would think to hurt me, you chase off every man that tries to get close, and you damn near kill yourself protecting me but that's all. At this rate I'll be lucky to get a death bed confession and what good would that do me? Last night I just...I just...I just couldn't take it anymore. Yeah, it was stupid, selfish, irresponsible, immature, and so on and so forth, but guess what, people in love get stupid. Especially when it's unrequited or the object of their affection thinks they know best and for some reason best is doing nothing. Either you love me and tell me or you don't and you let me go, pick one."

"Enough," the Tin Man commanded staring down at the hand that once wore a wedding ring. "I'm an old man, Princess; I spent too many damn years in a tin suit watching my life fall apart. I've been broken, remade, reshaped, and scarred so much I'm not even sure I'm whole anymore. You, on the other hand, are so young with so much of your life ahead of you. You're a whole person, Princess, and so high above me."

DG, furious now, attempted to protest.

"I said enough," Cain cut her off without a word, "I have been trying to keep you safe, kid, from everything, including me, and I will not have a repeat of last night. If you will not behave yourself I guess changes will just have to be made, starting with me and my place here."

Worried now, DG had to swallow the lump in her throat.

"If you are going to insist on these romps of yours unless something changes," he continued, "then I guess I'm going to have to inform my 'overstuffed sense of nobility' that the only way to keep you safe is to have you marry a broken old Tin Man. Doesn't bother me as much as it should," Cain smiled slightly, "it was damnably in the way anyhow."

"Huh?" DG was not prepared for this sudden turnabout, and given her current condition she was having trouble deciphering his meaning. She was pretty sure it was important, though.

"A drunken little birdy informed me last night that I wasn't being fair to you DG," he explained, "I've been thinking about it ever since. All this obsessing over age and social status when I know damn well it means nothing to you is so...pointless. I love you, DG. I have ever since I met you, I just...just..."

He got no further. DG didn't care how badly she ached or how much the room spun she was off the bed and tackling her Tin Man the second she realized he'd finally decided to let her know how he truly felt. Her body would eventually remind her how miserably it hurt but for now she was intent on kissing him senseless and making sure honour and nobility never had the chance to change his mind.

"So," murmured Cain during one of their oxygen breaks, "do I get to know what it is about my butt or the breasts I do not have, or do I not want to know?"

Chuckling merrily, DG wished she could have witnessed the dastardly good deed her BFF had performed.

Lord Fonteroy's morning, meanwhile, was not so friendly. It made him think of that saying of his tutor's: no good deed something something. Still, he considered philosophically, it could have been worse. He'd been halfway through his hangover before the Tin Man had thought to bother punishing the lord for leaving DG drunk and alone in the seedier part of town. Also, the Wordy Wonder was noticeably absent. Heck, they were even so kind as to let him out for the wedding. Not at all bad if he did say so himself.