Disclaimer: I own my computer, I own my brain, I own my weird little thoughts, but, sadly, I can't seem to achieve ownership of Tin Man. Still don't own the fairytales I've been pilfering lately.
Author's Note: Here's one I bet you didn't think I could do – I certainly hadn't thought so, but my brain is a strange, strange place. I tried to pull off some subtlety in this one we'll see how that goes. Oh, and before anyone yells at me for it, I know there are two suns in the O.Z. I'm just assuming they don't rise at the same time. I have noted a certain trend in my last few non-Gulch story that suggest maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Oh well, enjoy.
DG didn't know how much more she could take of this. Since the death threat against the youngest princess had arrived just over a week ago she hadn't been able to sleep a wink. Being the center of a flurry of anxious and bustling concerned preparations and counter measures was less than restful. DG spent her nights watching the shadows and attempting not to toss and turn too much. Occasionally she contemplated the ceiling and pondered why the would-be assassin had decided to single her out specifically. Danger of dying notwithstanding, the princess did wish they'd hurry up and get it over with, she was so unbelievably exhausted.
Watching the dawn sun creep over the horizon, DG decided that she'd lain there long enough. She was tired, she was bored, she was hungry; she might as well have breakfast. Standing up had become something of an interesting feat of late. The room swam merrily before her eyes as she achieved uprightness, and there had definitely been a few extra colours added to her mental light spectrum. Having let her room settle into its chosen perceived placement, the princess then stumbled her weary way to the door. Shortly thereafter she ran into solid wood.
Bouncing back drunkenly, DG blinked then tried again. Same result. Apparently doors in the O.Z. were just as solid as ones on the Otherside. The royal insomniac paused a moment to contemplate this obstacle. How did one open these things again? Thought, however, was deemed to be too much of an effort so the princess fell back on the old try the same thing and hope for different results routine. Fortunately for her nose, this time the door seemed to magically open itself and she was allowed to continue her doubtful navigation of the palace corridors. Breakfast, she was almost sure, was that way.
Sliding along the halls, using the walls as convenient balance props, the zombie princess found corners particularly difficult. They made her supports disappear so unexpectedly, it was a wonder that she managed to remain standing. Someone should have considered that when designing the building...oh, hey look, stairs.
"Easy there, Princess," Cain cautioned, appearing suddenly in her foggy peripheral vision, grabbing her elbow and preventing her headlong tumble down the stone staircase.
The aforementioned princess stared vacantly at the weathered steps for a moment before looking blearily up at the Tin Man. In the deep, deep recesses of her mind, in a place still capable of near rational thought, DG took a moment to wonder how a man who'd spent the last ten days storming about the castle, terrifying the staff, and galvanizing every bodyguard, soldier, tin man and informant available into putting their all into the protection of the threatened princess managed to look so much better rested than she was. Didn't he need sleep? She certainly did, it just wasn't fair. It was at this point DG's equilibrium gave up the struggle and she pitched forward to collapse against Cain's chest.
"Princess?" the Tin Man asked in alarm. Looking at her carefully, his face took on a grim cast. "You need sleep, Kid," he chided gently.
"Can' shleep," DG slurred, "Brea'fasht."
Cain considered hauling her back to bed and insisting she stay there, in the end, however, he merely sighed, scooped her up and carried her off to the kitchen. It was in the other direction.
"Oh my angel, you look so tired," the Queen said unhappily when she discovered them there sometime later. The Tin Man was basically spoon feeding the princess by then as she seemed to have lost all concept of cutlery use.
"Dear me, Spitfire, you do seem to have lost your spark," Ahamo agreed, "Don't let all this get to you DG, you are perfectly safe. Why half the O.Z. army and the entire royal guard seem to be turning over every stone in their efforts to keep you from harm. Not to mention your own personal Tin Man," the Consort added drily.
Cain grunted his agreement and, having given up on her doing it herself, wiped DG's face clean with a napkin. The princess distantly thought that this was easy enough for them to say, no one was trying to kill them.
"Really Deeg," an exasperated Azkadellia stated later that day during what was supposed to be a magic lesson, "Just get some sleep already, you know full well that Cain won't let anything happen to you. Not to mention the thousands of the guards who seem to be swarming about the palace right now. Frankly, I doubt an assassin could go after a scullery maid without tripping over at least a dozen of them. You couldn't be safer."
DG, meanwhile, was slumped over the table watching a picture show that was completely the work of her fatigue disturbed brain chemistry and had nothing to do with the magic she was supposed to be performing. Az could talk, it's not like she was the focus of all those guards and new security procedures. At least the youngest princess didn't think so; life was a bit fuzzy at the moment.
The former Kansas farm girl did, in her rare moments of almost clarity, think this was all a bit ridiculous. Really, it made her feel all of three years old every time the Tin Man checked her closet before bed to make sure there were no monsters in it. And truthfully, though she'd admit it to no one, DG did have the overwhelming urge to look under her bed in the dead of night, just to see. That would take energy and coordination she no longer had, however, so instead the youngest princess flopped bonelessly onto the mattress and wished someone would hurry up and try to assassinate her.
On the night of the twelfth day post threat DG got her wish. As much as the slipper princess liked shadow watching as night time entertainment, she had long past the point where she could distinguish between shadows that were actually moving and hallucinations that liked to do a happy dance. Thus it was that the assassin got all the way across the room without the princess raising so much as the slightest alarm. His raised knife flashed in the moonlight. Ooh, pretty, was all she thought. He grinned triumphantly...
...and a loud retort shattered the silence. With a pained gasp, the would-be assassin's legs gave out beneath him and he collapsed to the floor, bringing him face to face with a furious Cain and his favourite revolver. Whatever contingency plans the assassin might have had fled the villain's mind in light of the Tin Man's wrath. Shaking in fright, he hardly resisted as Cain wrested the knife from his grasp and stood to check on the princess.
"You alright DG?" Cain asked.
"Mm fine," the princess murmured sleepily, "Ya got'im?"
"Yeah I got him," the Tin Man replied grimly, "He and I are going to go for a little walk and then we are going to have a nice long chat." Surveying the princess thoughtfully he continued, "There are guards right outside and I'll be back as soon as I can. You try and get some sleep."
"S'no prob'em, ta' yo time," DG slurred in response.
Heaving a sigh of relief, the princess snuggled deeper into her bed as Cain hauled her would-be assailant out the door. The death threat hadn't actually bothered her; she truly had trusted her Tin Man to keep her safe. Nor were the extra guards an issue, the young royal had long since grown used to the chaos that was O.Z. life. Heck, she'd even considered Cain's insistence on following her everywhere to be an unexpected bonus. What DG wanted to know, though, is how anyone expected her to sleep with her very own Personal Enemy Annihilator hiding beneath the mattress.