Disclaimer: I don't own Tin Man.
"Tin man wake up now!" He groaned at the sound of the viewer on the other side of the door and resisted pulling a pillow over his head to block out the noise.
"Raw, unless someone is dead or about to be come back in the mornin'." It had been a long day. He had spent the majority of it checking to be sure all the nobles that were finally leaving weren't going to be coming back. Security checks on all their luggage, transports, and the guards that would be escorting them was exhausting. All he wanted to do was sleep through the night, but if Furball didn't leave that wasn't going to happen.
"Raw not leave until Cain come." One of his eyes popped open. It was a rare day that the viewer decided to show a little backbone.
Heaving himself out of his bed he grabbed the first shirt he could get his hands on and forced his arms into it as he wrenched the door open. "What?" He growled at the other man. Over the last few months he had become a lot less hostile, and he was usually fairly understanding toward the viewer, but he was tired and apparently no one was about to die. Raw better have a damn good reason for waking him up at this hour.
"Need to go to kitchens."
"You woke me up so I could make you a midnight snack?" Where was his gun? He never should have opened the door without it. He was going to shoot the other man.
The viewer was shifting nervously as his eyes darted between him and the nearest set of stairs. "DG in kitchen."
He looked at the viewer dryly if that were possible. "So?" The girl was probably hungry. He hadn't seen her eat all day. She'd been too busy trying to keep the majority of the newly instated government from overrunning her sister. They had nearly overwhelmed Azkadilla with their congratulations on her new ascension to heir apparent.
Once the younger princess had somehow discover the recording the witch had made of the battle in the tower she had managed to get the glitching advisor to show her how to replicate them. Ambrose had forgotten within minutes but he had found her in a small and disgusting laboratory in the middle of the night with nearly a dozen large crates full of the shiny objects.
She had been standing in front of a bubbling tank watching the scene replay without much interest. The second it was over she had removed a disk, tossed it in a nearly full crate, and inserted another one. When he had asked her what she was doing she had told him she was fixing things. How long she had been 'fixing things' was up in the air, but three days later and every town of any size in the Outer Zone had a disk containing what had happened.
After that the response to the dark eyed princess had been nearly overwhelming. The people thought she was strong to have stayed alive and enslaved for so long and beyond brave for hurling the witch from her body. Within weeks both the princesses were thought of as heroes, but Deeg had somehow managed to fade into the background.
"Cain must go to DG."
He ran his hand through his hair. "Raw, I'm tired. What's the problem?"
"Upset." He waited. "Not sure Raw can help."
"Alright." He tried to get his brain into gear. Deeg was the one person in the O.Z. other than Jeb he would stay awake for right now. "Let me get my gun."
Turning back into his room he put on his holster and finished buttoning his shirt. Sitting on the edge of his bed he tugged on his boots and stood with a n exhausted sigh. Stepping out in the hall he shut his door and shooed the viewer away. "Go to bed, Furball. I know you're as tired as me."
"Raw will sleep. Cain must be careful with DG tonight."
He gave the viewer a sharp look before leaving. He wondered what had the viewer in such a knot. Five minutes later and he found out. He opened the door to the lower kitchen in time to see DG throwing back a shot of what he thought was whiskey. It was hard to judge when all he could see was a brief flash of golden liquid against the light before it disappeared into her mouth. Standing with the swinging door caught in his hand he waited until she set her glass down before entering the room. The last thing he needed was to make her choke.
Her head swung around and she huffed at him. She was dressed in her Otherside pants and a plain black shirt with her hair up in a high ponytail. Maybe she didn't know it was the middle of the night. "Seriously?" Her entire being conveyed her annoyance with the intrusion.
He eased into the room cautiously as she reached over and snatched a bottle off the wooden table. She poured a rather liberal amount of alcohol, definitely whiskey, into her glass. "Princess, what are you doin'?"
She rolled her eyes as she took hold of the glass with her small hand. "Drinking." With that she tossed down a second shot and he could only admire how easily she took it. She didn't flinch, gag, or cough as she threw back what he could now see was one of the strongest drinks this side of the rainbow. The kid had definitely done this before. He thought that should worry him.
"I can see that." Her usual smile had been replaced with a distracted stare. "Any particular reason?"
"So I can get a hangover." Ah, he had walked into another one of what he had started terming 'DG situations'. They were never safe and he often left more confused than Glitch had been before the kid had shoved his brain back in his head. These situations required two things, patience, which wasn't a problem, and the ability to follow her reasoning. That one was the one that tended to be an issue.
Not only was she working on an entirely different wavelength, she was possibly the most evasive person he had ever met. Sure, she might not look it. She might act innocent and sweet, most of the time she was both, but he had begun to suspect that behind those blue eyes were more secrets and hidden perception than he could contemplate. When she put her mind to it she could wriggle out of any question posed to her before flipping the conversation back on whoever asked. It was like she was three steps ahead of anyone trying to pin her down at all times. It had to be exhausting.
"You want to get a hangover?" He just needed to make sure, because he was fairly certain he might still be asleep and dreaming all this.
"That is my goal." Filling her glass again she drank down the liquid before he could get it away from her. While her head was thrown up toward the ceiling he took three steps toward her and snatched the bottle away. When she set the glass down she looked at him with irritation. "Put it back."
"No." Setting the bottle well out of her reach he pulled out a stool opposite her and sat down.
"Jesus Christ, Cain! Do I barge in on you in the middle of the night and disrupt your activities? Give it back and go to bed!"
That seemed like the worst thing he could do at this point. "I don't think so." She glared at him. He wasn't sure she'd ever done that before. Something was very off here and now that he was with her he needed to figure out what it was. "Why would you want to get yourself sick?"
She rolled her eyes and slid her glass across the table at him. She pointed to the bottle. "If you're going to play bartender at least fill my glass." After a significant hesitation he gave her about half as much as he'd seen her putting in and gave her the drink. She swallowed it in a go. When she was done she twisted the glass around in her hand as she watched the light playing over its surface.
"Bad day, Kiddo?" He didn't know where else to start with this.
She never looked at him. "It was fine. No one got assassinated, or attacked, and everyone loves Az."
Logic was clearly not going to work in his favor tonight. "You're goin' to have to give me somethin' to go on here. You're not the drinkin' type. What are you doin'?"
"How do you know?" The glass was back in front of him before he saw her move. "You've known me for a whopping fourteen months. More please."
"Kid, I watch people for a livin'. Knowin' how to drink doesn't make you a drinker." He drummed his fingers on the table. "You're not gettin' any more until you tell me why you're tryin' to get yourself sick on purpose."
"Because its normal to get a hangover after drinking." She stated this without further explanation and waved her hand at her glass. His eyebrow quirked up even as he gave her another drink.
"Normal?" She swallowed and nodded. He scrambled to understand what her thought process on this one was. "You want a hangover because it's normal?"
"That's what I said." She sighed. "Cain, I'm really going to need that bottle back. You kinda suck at the refill thing."
He ignored her request, too baffled to let this go. "Kid… What are you on about now?"
She exploded. His quiet, sweet, understand princess, lost it completely. "I'm not on about anything! Why can't anyone just leave me alone for one day? Why do I have to explain everything I do all the time no matter what world I'm in?" She stood up and her stool fell over with a clatter. "I can't even sit in a kitchen at three in the morning without you bothering me! Do you all think I'm incapable of surviving by myself for two hours or do you really think I'm a child, because I can't work it out!"
He was going to kill the Furball for sending him after her without more of a warning. "Princess-"
"Would you stop calling me that?" If possible her voice rose even higher. "Heaven forbid anyone call me by my real name! No! I'm always princess, or doll, or spitfire, or angel, or peanut, or kid, or kiddo! I have a name, Cain! I'm not an object, a position, or a pet!"
Good thing she didn't let things like that fester. "If that bothered you all you had to do was say so."
"I have said so!" He was starting to wonder how long she was going to be able to keep this up. He'd never heard this girl raise her voice unless she was screaming for help before and even that had been a rare occurrence. "I've asked you to call me DG at least three times a week since we met! Why won't you?" Her eyes were suddenly glimmering and he nearly panicked. The princess didn't cry. She just…didn't. "Why won't you let me be a person?"
Standing up he edged toward her and she stepped away from him. He had a feeling he was getting closer to the problem but she was trying to remove herself from him. "I hate this place! It's even worse than Kansas! At least there Momster and Popsicle treated me like a human, which is ironic since they were robots! Even if I didn't fit in I could still leave! Now I'm stuck here and surrounded by people that treat me like I'm even less normal than I was on the Otherside!"
She seemed to realize what had come out of her mouth and blinked rapidly as she clamped her mouth closed. A ringing silence settled over the small room and he could tell she was searching for either an escape route or a way to take back what she had said. He saw her start to twist and lunged forward to grab her around the waist before she could dart out of the room. As he dragged her closer she began to squirm in desperation. "Let me go!" Her voice was more demanding than he had ever heard it.
"Not a chance, DG." Managing to press her against his chest he stroked her hair as he started whispering in her ear. "I'm sorry I wasn't listenin'." She shoved at him, but he held her firmly. "I'm sorry you felt like I was treatin' you like a princess and not my friend. That wasn't right or fair of me."
She shoved away from him and staggered back. "Stop it!" Her breathing was ragged as she snarled at him. "I am the princess to you! That's all I've ever been and you just keep pushing me away! I can't do this anymore! One minute you hug me like I might matter and then you go cold on me! Sometimes I wish I'd never met you!" With one last tear filled glare she stormed out of the kitchen and away from him.
He stared at the space she left and felt the sting of her words like a blow to the heart. He hadn't even known he could hurt this much anymore. Then one tearful look from those big blue eyes and it was all he could feel. It was his fault too. She was right. He blew hot and cold with her so often it was amazing she hadn't lost her temper with him long before this.
It wasn't that he meant to, but she had a way of getting close and it scared him. Maybe if hadn't spent the last ten years in that suit watching what he had. But the nightmares were still there and they made him balk at letting her get any closer than she already was. He had been worried if he let her in one of them would wind up getting hurt. It hadn't occurred to him that both of them already were. Running his hand through his hair he walked out of the kitchen after her.
Tracking the girl to her room he knocked and heard a faint rustle, then nothing. She was in there but she wasn't about to come out. If he wasn't likely to be run over by a guard he would have tried to talk his way in but he didn't have that kind of time. With a sigh he turned his holster over and removed a thin wire from the seaming. Inserting it into the lock he twisted it deftly and he heard a click. Tucking the wire away he opened the door while making a mental note to have this lock replaced with a much better one. If he could open it in less than ten seconds there was a problem.
"DG?" He closed the door behind him quietly and searched the dark room with his eyes. She wasn't here. Seeing light shinning under her bedroom door he figured he could talk his way to her without an audience after all. At least this way he would have privacy when he was apologizing. Leaning against the doorframe he tapped on the wood. "Deeg?"
"For god's sake, Cain! Go away!"
"Can we talk about this?"
"No." She snapped stubbornly.
He looked at the closed door. "Deeg, I know you're a person."
"Lucky me." There was a nasty bite to her voice.
"Please, open the door."
"Go to hell."
He was certainly making excellent progress. "That wasn't very nice, Deeg."
"I don't give a flying fuck." Alcohol certainly shook out a few words in her vocabulary.
"All I want to do is talk. Open the door for a second and I'll go away."
"Then I'm staying out here."
"Fine. Have fun standing there all night."
He resisted the urge to bang his head against the wood paneling. "Deeg, please, open the door."
"No." The volume of her voice had decreased pretty dramatically all at once. He thought he detected wetness in it. "Just come back tomorrow when I feel better. Then we can talk."
"You won't talk to me about this when you feel better. We both know if I come back later you'll pretend this never happened."
"I like that plan."
"I don't. You're unhappy. I don't want you to be unhappy."
"Well, that's unfortunate for both of us."
"What would make you happy?" He asked as he rubbed at the bridge of his nose.
Her answer was immediate. "For you to leave."
Despite himself his lip curled up. "Other than that."
"Nothing. There's no solution."
"Would you stop being stubborn?"
"I don't know how to do that."
"Me neither." He heard a huff of agreement on her side. "Come on, Deeg. You have to give me something to work with. I'm only a man. I can't hope to understand any woman let alone you."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means you have me chasing my own tail on a regular basis. Cut me some slack. Most of the time I don't know which way is up and down with you. I walk in thinking I do then suddenly you convince me otherwise."
There was a significant pause. When she spoke he realized she was trying to end this conversation. It wasn't a subtle hint to be perfectly honest. "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I didn't mean what I said about not wanting to have met you."
"That's good to know. Didn't answer my other question though."
"I'm not answering that."
"Because it makes me a pathetic human being. Will you leave now?"
"No." He crossed his arms. "You've gotten me involved now. I can't walk away."
"I'm going to bed, Cain."
His eyes narrowed when he saw the light turn off. "Deeg, I'm about to loose my temper."
"Because that never happens." She replied sarcastically.
The sound of fabric rustling, which could only be her bedding, had his fuse shortening and he wrestled with his frustration until it was sitting obediently, if rebelliously, in a corner. "I'm sorry about that. It wasn't fair of me to get angry with you when I was angry about other things."
He rubbed his temples unable to argue the point. "Please…please. Open the door."
To his very great surprise she did. He nearly fell through the suddenly open space as she stood glaring at him. Her temper hadn't cooled in the slightest but the tears that had been threatening to fall were gone. "What?"
"You opened this to get rid of me didn't you?"
He put his hand on the door so she couldn't shut it again and her eyes narrowed in annoyance. "That's better. Now at least we can yell at one another face to face." Her lips pressed together. "What's really the matter, DG?"
"I'm not talking to you about that."
"Because you didn't let me get myself drunk enough. Are we done?"
"No." He held his ground. "It's not healthy for you to try to make yourself sick."
She rolled her eyes. "Can't get trashed can I? Not very princess like."
He assumed that meant drunk. "There are other ways to relax."
"Considering I can't do any of those things that's very helpful advice."
He rubbed his face with his free hand. "Alright, Deeg. I can see this isn't goin' anywhere."
"Are you going to leave then?"
"No." He could tell she was about to hit him. "What is it you think you need to relax other than whiskey?"
"I'm going to bed now, Cain." She stepped back and tried to shut the door. He was too big for her to move. "Damn it! Would you just go? I opened the freaking door! Go away!"
"Would it make you feel better if we went out ridin' tomorrow?"
"It would make me feel better if you left me alone!"
"We both know you don't mean that."
Her jaw set and he knew this wasn't going to get any more pleasant than it already was. "So now you can read my mind?"
He tried to backpedal. "That isn't what I-"
"It's exactly what you meant!" She snapped. "Mr. Tin thinks he has all the answers!" Mr. Tin? That was a new one, he actually kind of liked it, it was certainly better than some of the nicknames he had amassed over the years. He opened his mouth, but she jumped back into the rant she had started in the kitchen. "You can't just listen to the words coming out of my mouth and take them at face value! No, you have to be a smart ass about it! I am so sick of you telling me how you assume I'm feeling! Believe it or not I'm not the social butterfly you seem to think I am! I like to be by myself! I like the quiet! We actually have that in common!"
"We have more than that in-"
"Stop interrupting me!" He closed his mouth as amusement rippled through him despite the situation. Maybe he should let the girl do this more often. It was rather fun to watch. She was like an exploding engine. "God! You drive me absolutely crazy! You can't even let me yell at you can you? You have to be all logical and calm about it! You won't yell back either! What's the point of having an argument?"
"You want me to yell at you?"
"No!" He was lost again, or perhaps he was simply more turned around than he imagined because since the viewer had woken him up he had never known what was going on. "I want you to leave me alone! It's pointless! You come here and then stare at me! If you want to fight with me then fight with me! I'm so sick of you just staring at me when something happens! I might as well yell at my reflection in the mirror!"
"Starin' at you?"
"Don't act like that isn't what you do! At least if you were fighting I would know you were feeling something! Instead you stand there and look at me! Stop it!"
"I'm not entirely sure what it is you want me to do." He admitted, hoping by some miracle she would give him some firm direction in which to travel.
"I just told you!"
"Look, I'm not goin' to yell at you."
"What?" Her eyes flashed. "You don't listen at all!" She turned and went into her bedroom, abandoning her quest to shut the door.
He let out a sound of utter frustration and walked in after her. "Deeg."
"I'm done with you." She waved her hand toward the door. "Be gone."
"You think tellin' me to leave in a different way will work?"
"Apparently not." She yanked her hair out of the ponytail and her curls tumbled down around her shoulders. "But I'm going to sleep now. I'm sick of you."
He huffed out a laugh. "At least you got sick from somethin'."
Wrong thing to say, he knew because she chucked a pillow at him. It hit his head and he out an oaff. "I hate you."
There was no conviction in her voice at all. She kicked her shoes off and he edged closer after he picked up the pillow. Tossing it on the bed he held his hands up peacefully. "Are you done pickin' a fight now?"
"You started this!"
"All I did was come down to the kitchen. You're the one that started yellin'."
"You made me!"
"I didn't make you do anything." Her eyes were flashing again as he started to debate with her. "You needed to let off some steam. I get it."
"Stop trying to be understanding! I don't want to be understood!"
His eyes softened. "Yes, you do." She shot him a disgusted glance and he caught her hand. She tried to shake him off but he held her firmly. "It's been rough the last few weeks. I've been here too. Don't start diggin' your heels in with me. It won't get you anywhere. I'm probably the only one in the O.Z. that's as stubborn as you."
"Lucky me." She tugged and he tugged back. He won her arm and the rest of her as well. She stumbled into his chest and he caught her. She looked up at him with a glint in her eyes. "Congrats, you caught me. Pity you don't have the slightest idea what to do with what you have." That snapped him into alertness. He searched her face and she simply stared back at him, waiting. His arms loosened but she didn't move. "Coward."
His eyes flashed and his arms tightened back around her. When she was pressed against his chest he caught the back of her neck and held her still. "Name callin' isn't goin' to get me to leave."
"Will it get you to stay?" His fingers twitched at the sudden insightful question. He didn't know what she was doing. She was either trying to scare him off or do the exact opposite of that. Her eyes glittered with smug amusement when she saw him struggling to work this out. In that instant he knew she had somehow played this entire situation. She had tricked him somehow, somewhere along the line, and he was at a loss as to where or when it had happened, or what her goal was now that she had him snared.
"What're you doin', Deeg?" He asked warily.
"I'm standing in my bedroom." She continued to watch him, noting his sudden awareness of the situation she'd shoved him into. "I think the question you really need the answer to is why you're in here with me."
"We're havin' an argument." He didn't hesitate to answer.
She raised an eyebrow. "No, we're not." She assessed him. "But you are getting angry."
Yes, he was. "Stop runnin' me in circles."
"No." He tightened his hand around her neck a fraction and her eyes hooded. "All you have to do is let me go and leave, Wyatt."
"That's what you want."
"Maybe." She was driving him crazy. He couldn't get a handle on what was going through her head. Hell, he didn't know what was going through his. "Maybe not. Maybe I'll get what I want either way." He growled and her lip curled up at the corner. "Horrible isn't it? Not knowing what the right answer is."
"Why are you playin' with me?"
"Why are you letting me?" The girl was too smart for her own good and definitely too smart for his. "Apparently, I'm not the only one that likes to be understood. How far am I going to have to push you? How far do you want me too?"
"You can't even imagine what you'd have to do to get me to snap, Deeg."
She laughed softly. "I know exactly what I have to do. Does that scare you?"
"You don't scare me."
"Yes, I do." She leaned her head back, exposing the pale column of her neck in the moonlit room. "The same way you scare me. Only difference is I've accepted it." She looked at him from under her lashes. "So what's it going to be? Are you going to leave me alone or take me to bed?" His entire body went rigid at the options she threw out and still she goaded him. "You can only pick one. Which one?"
"You've been drinkin'."
She looked him dead in the eye. There was no anger or surprise. "There's always an excuse for you isn't there?" His eyes flashed even as she continued. "Leave then."
"Then take me to bed."
"There are other options."
"Not for us there aren't. Stop staling. Either let me go or take me to bed."
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. He searched her eyes. This was a horrible idea. It was going to blow up in his face no matter what he did. He'd wake up tomorrow and she'd pretend nothing happened if he took her to bed and if he left everything would change between them, the trust would be gone and he knew it. Making up his mind he pressed his lips over hers and she pressed against him. Deeg moaned against him and he tangled his fingers in her curls. Pulling back he growled at her. "I'm not lettin' you pretend like this didn't happen in the mornin'. We do this and you're mine. I'm not a quick fix."
"You better give me something to remember then."
His eyes flashed at the challenge and he picked her up off the ground. "You're too damn sassy." Tossing her on the bed he moved between her legs and unfastened her pants before she could sit up.
"Not for you." She stated.
He tore his holster off and crawled over her. He caught her lips in a searing kiss and ground his hips into hers before answering. "No, not for me."
Author Note: I'm alive! Sorry about the wait on anything new. I'm working on Catalyst right now but thought a little two or three-parter would keep you going until then. Sorry about the absence. I moved states and am starting grad school. It's amazing how life can run you over. Enjoy and leave me a review! I love them!