Legerdemain

Part 3

Disclaimer: I don't own Tin Man, I just feel like I belong in the O.Z.

The sun woke him up a little at a time, the brightness and warmth of it increasing incrementally until he couldn't ignore it anymore. His eyes opened slowly as he adjusted to the brightness and he turned his face away from the light. His nose hit something soft and he went momentarily stiff until he remembered where he was. Deeg was tucked up against his side and sleeping peacefully. He relaxed back into the blankets and took her room in now that he could see it. It was still early morning and he knew no one would be bothering them for at least a few hours, not after the day they'd had yesterday. He'd be surprised if anyone bothered them at all today actually.

His eyes traveled over the room slowly, noting the mess her small vanity was in, amused that it was covered in art supplies instead of the normal feminine oddities. Beside it and right next to the large window facing the lake an oddly lopsided easel sat waiting to be either used or repaired. By the way it looked one of the screws must have fallen out and hadn't yet been fixed, he blamed the chaos of the last few weeks far more than the kid. She knew how to use tools, not add extra time to the day. Behind the easel were six or seven finished canvas that he would very much like to get a better look at. DG did have a talent, though she never showed it off.

The only reason he even knew about it was because he had once found her covered in paint, which had fallen all over her and her art as she was working, and she was desperately trying to save her painting using something in Glitch's workshop. He still wasn't sure exactly what the goo was, wasn't even sure it was for removing anything, but it had worked in getting rid of the unwanted paint. He had snuck in behind her, looking for the headcase at the time, when he spotted the still wrecked image on one of the long tables in the room and Deeg tearing things out of cabinets with one minded focus as she balanced precariously on a spinning stool. How she hadn't broken her neck was a miracle he wasn't going to question. What he did question was how she managed to spill fresh paint all over something from the gallery in the lower floors of the palace, still unaware it was hers. She had promptly told him he wasn't funny and began to dab at the piece anxiously. Fifteen minutes later and she had saved it as he watched quietly and let out a relieved breath.

Stepping next to her shoulder he had gazed at the image of the rooftop gardens, recognizing her favorite corner of it that was taken over by a small weeping apricot tree, something she swore up and down didn't exist on her side of the rainbow, and a small pond covered in lily pads. On closer inspection he realized the whole thing was actually a great many dabs of paint on top of one another, as if the artist had dripped the paint down like rain. The closer he got to it the less it looked like a painting and the farther away he moved the more cohesive it was. He was downright floored by the concept, something he had never seen or heard of before, and picked it up by the back frame very carefully as she put away the goo and had her back to him.

When she found him touching it she had nearly had a fainting spell. "What are you doing?" He looked up at the sound of her hyperventilating.

"Lookin'." He said simply, turning back to the image and moving it closer and farther away from him so he could study the difference. "Never seen anything like this before."

"It's still wet!" She fussed, taking it from him carefully and setting it back on the table. "It took me four weeks to make! Don't smudge it!"

He gazed at her blankly for a moment. "You made that?"

A dry look had followed that question. "Either that or I'm possessed by an artisan and wasn't aware. Quick, get Az to melt them out of me."

He ignored her sarcasm. "This is amazin', kid."

She eyed the painting critically. "Well, it's alright I guess." Shrugging she picked it up with more care than he'd ever seen her exhibit.

"Alright?" He wanted to know what her standards were. "Do you have anymore?"

She simply shrugged, giving him a total non-answer, and walked out of the room. "I need to put this away. See you at dinner."

That had been eight months ago and the one and only painting he'd seen. He managed to catch a few quick peeks at her sketches, but those had all been fast and secretive when she left him alone for a few minutes near one of her books. Why she was guarding them so closely was up in the air, but he supposed it was yet another mystery he would have a chance to solve now. The girl was talented, more than she thought, and he had been trying to work out a way to get her to show that off in the gallery at Central City. Her parents owned the place, he figured she deserved to have a little corner of it to herself for a month or so, and besides she was using techniques he knew no one on this side was.

He thought shaking up the emerging art community, which was still trying to rebound from the media suppression the witch had enacted, might like a little bit of shaking. Artists were a bit odd that way, one of the few professions that would leap at new things with ravenous hunger instead of trying to force a change away. After nearly fifteen years of being completely controlled by the government he'd met more than one artisan that was literally ravenous at the freedom they suddenly had again. The outpouring of the art culture had been staggering over the last year to say the least.

Moving on he saw her wardrobe was closed up tight and the rest of her room was neat and tidy, nearly meticulous in fact, much like her outer room always was. He wondered what else was hiding in here, figuring there were at least five or six more puzzles for him to work out tucked away in the ordinary places people hid things away. Shifting slightly he spooned up around the kid as she slept on and dedicated his waking mind to figuring out how to handle her once she woke up. He had no doubt in his mind that as soon as she got her bearings he would be doomed.

Since he was sure this was true, he came to a simple conclusion. He'd have to keep her from getting her feet firmly under her, at least until he was sure he had some say in this whole situation. Until she acknowledged that he was going to be a part of this, as opposed to a means to an end or a bystander, he was going to have to do some quick mental work. Keeping up with her was a daunting concept, getting ahead of her was going to be damn near to impossible, but he figured he'd give it a go anyway. At the very worst he'd simply have to keep her pinned to the bed while they talked this out. Possibly not the nicest way to go about it, but that was too damn bad. If she were going to be as stubborn as a mule about this he would happily adopt the same mindset.

No sooner did he think that than the kid shifted under his arm and started to come awake. He leaned in and kissed the back of her neck and a shiver tore all the way down her body at the scintillating sensation. A soft, sleepy sigh of contentment came out of her and he smiled slightly as he watched the late morning sunlight playing over the bare skin of her shoulders and upper back that were peeking out from under the blanket. He wrapped one of her curls around his fingers, letting the tips brush her exposed skin as he spoke. "Good mornin'."

At the sound of his voice whispering next to her ear she jolted all over, her eyes snapping open. "Cain?" She asked with real confusion, her sleeping mind trying to catch up to the situation.

He made sure to keep her tripped up. "It was Wyatt last night." In that instant he saw and felt her panic, and he had never seen such a controlled panic in all his life. While he certainly wanted her to agree to his way of thinking he didn't want her acting like this. Turning her over he kissed her quickly, trying to send her from panic to something else. He really didn't have any interest in scaring her, he hadn't been lying about that. Sliding his hand down her body under the blanket had her relaxing slightly as he sent pleasant sensations running all the way down her. When he pulled away he smirked at her slightly. "Or did you forget?"

She flushed, but kept her chin up and held his gaze. "I didn't forget-"

"Good." He said, nipping at her lower lip briefly. "Then you should know exactly what I want to talk about."

"I thought the summit went rather well myself." She said, trying to roll out from under his arm. "I suppose the menu could have had more variety-"

He dragged her back against him. "No."

"You thought it was fine?" She shrugged. "Maybe I thought that because I wanted some chocolate somewhere."

"DG." He warned, realizing he was already rapidly loosing control.

"Yes, Cain?" She asked with no hint that anything at all was strange or odd about this whole situation. As if she often woke up with him naked, not that he would mind that becoming normal, but he needed to stay on task here.

He narrowed his eyes and he saw her revving up for a continuation of her evasions when a thought struck. Since there was no way to out subtle her he thought he should try the opposite, dead blunt. Reaching down he caught the sheet that was tangled around them under the blanket and pulled at it. Taking a handful he held it up near her face so she could clearly see the small blood stain on it. "This is what I want to talk about."

"The thread-count on my sheets?"

His temper began to get the better of him as he let the fabric go. "DG!"

"What?" She snapped defensively. "What is there to say?"

"You are driving me absolutely straight up the wall." He growled before kissing her near to senseless. Why her rebellious attitude was turning him on was something he would really need to think about, and most likely before this went any farther. DG wasn't helping him gain control though; her small delicate hands began to trace him as she pressed up against him. Slipping his arm around her side he tucked her below him and she moaned softly into his mouth. With a groan of regret he pulled away after kissing her face all over, knowing she would continue to distract him until he forgot what it was they needed to talk about. "I can't do this with you again until you talk to me, DG."

The kid clearly wasn't taking him at his word because she leaned up and sucked on his neck with just the right amount of pressure to have his eyes rolling back in his head. He was suddenly fairly certain she had at least some experience with men or she wouldn't know how to do that. His hand flattened over her side and inched up toward her breast, touching as much of her as he could as he all but plastered her against him. "Wyatt." She murmured just behind his ear.

The sound of his name brought him back from the edge. "No, DG." He shoved himself up and off her, taking the blanket with him, needing to put some space between them or she would have him without a doubt. She let out a frustrated breath as she pulled the sheet over herself securely and sat up. For a woman that was so eager to have him she certainly was being shy about her body. The odd combination was throwing him off, sending him to unstable ground once again. If all she wanted was him back between her legs she would have dropped the sheet. The confusion had his former goal of getting answers solidifying to a whole new extent. "We're talkin' about this."

"Fine." She relented, noting him digging his heels in and watching him. When he didn't say anything she raised her eyebrow in an eerily familiar manner he knew she'd picked up from him. "Well?"

He watched her as if she were playing some sort of trick before deciding she wasn't. "Tell me what was goin' through that head of yours last night." She shrugged; feigning disinterest, but he sensed a great deal going on under her serene veneer. It wasn't that he could see it in her face, but he was good at picking up on body language and hers was all over the place. She almost looked as if she were straining to keep herself from crawling onto him, and not in a way that would end up with both of them crying out in ecstasy. He had been worried she was going to run on him, but now he was reconsidering that as he watched her silently wanting reassurance. Moving closer to her again he looped his arm around her and put her where she obviously wanted to be. "You behave." He warned as he leaned back against the headboard and held her securely in his lap.

"I'm not a loaded gun about to go off." She said as she adjusted a little, as if saying that would have him lowering his guard.

He snorted at that. "No, you're a mage bent on driving me mad." He kissed her forehead to negate the sting of the statement. Despite his concern over her trying to avoid this whole situation she was actually relaxing like this. Interested in this response to simple physical contact he rubbed her back easily, and to his very great surprise she was much more open all at once.

"I didn't know how else to go about this." She said, answering his earlier question without any verbal prompting at all even though she tucked her head onto his shoulder so she wouldn't have to look at his face as she confessed.

"And talking to me never occurred to you?" He asked as he tucked her hair back behind her ear and began to stroke his fingers over her head.

"Of course it occurred to me, but you would have taken off." She shook her head into his skin. "You would have walked out as soon as you knew what I wanted. You never would have talked about it, not really."

He was angry, briefly, that she was right about that. He would have stopped her the moment he knew what she was hinting at, playing it off as a simple and inevitable extension of their close friendship that would eventually fade away. Clearly, the kid wasn't going to take any of his bullshit. Once again he found her mindset exhausting. "So you tricked me?"

"Tricked is such a strong word." She said, playing with the edge of the sheet. "I simply limited your options to a rather extreme degree."

He huffed at that. "Limited my options to a rather extreme degree." He repeated in real amusement. "You certainly did that. Do I need to do the same thing with you?"

"What?" She asked with alarm.

"It worked well enough for you." The kid was on edge again in moments and he rubbed her back again, leaving her alone when her anxiety reappeared, or so he hoped she thought. "Why won't you show me your paintings?"

He threw her yet again with the odd topic change and he wondered if she was getting tired of it as much as he was. "My paintings? Why would you want to see them? They aren't very good and they don't look anything like the artwork that's popular here." She glanced over at them, her cheek finally leaving his shoulder. "I never could paint like that. Realism was never my strong point."

"Realism?" He asked in confusion.

"It's what artist on the Otherside call the popular form here. Everything is supposed to look perfect and true to life." She shrugged. "I tried it a couple times but I guess I don't think that way. It's hard for me and I always have to force it. It comes out horrible."

He turned her slightly so they could both look at the canvases. "But those aren't horrible?"

She frowned slightly. "No, I like them."

"But you think I won't." He stated.

"Yes… I mean no." She shook her head and clarified that. "No, I don't think you'll like them."

Humming he kissed the side of her head. "I want to see them."

"But-"

"Either that or we can go back to talkin' about why we're in this bed together."

She turned her head and looked at him like he had suddenly turned into a papay. "You can't be serious."

"I'm simply limiting your options to a rather extreme degree. So what's it goin' to be? The paintin's or talkin'? You only get to pick one." He goaded lightly.

She was utterly miffed by his whole attitude. "That's ridiculous. I'm not picking."

He flipped her so fast she didn't know what happened. One second she was in his lap and the next he had her pinned below him on the bed. "I guess we're talkin' then."

She jerked at the hold he had on her. "You let go of me right now, Cain."

He clucked his tongue. "That wasn't one of your options."

Her mouth dropped open as she gaped at him in disbelief. Never once in their entire relationship had he flat out refused to do something she asked short of dragging her out of a life-threatening situation. "I cannot believe the gall-"

"Believe it, Darlin'. You didn't pick so I did."

Her jaw clenched. "You are totally pissing me off!"

"Oh, am I?" He asked sarcastically. She jerked below him and he held her without much trouble. He was rather hoping she wouldn't resort to magic however, he really couldn't do much against that. After a moment he pressed his lips together. "Would you be still?"

"Why should I?" She demanded.

"How about because I asked? Can we please stop fightin' for a minute? I don't want to fight with you." He gentled his voice. "I don't know why you're so dead set on it when all I want to do is love on you."

She stilled below him but tugged at the hold he had on her wrists. "Let go of my arms please." He did what she asked, recognizing the unease at being held down. He wondered where that came from even as she settled back below him. "You want to love on me?" She asked quietly when she was free.

"Of course I do." He said with exasperation. "Why aren't you lettin' me be sweet to you?"

"Because I have abandonment issues, okay?" He wasn't familiar with that term but he figured his understanding was pretty close to whatever it really was. "I don't want you being sweet to me this morning when I knew very well we're never going to talk about this again. I just wanted one night with you alright? That's all I expect. You don't have to stay here being all noble about it. I'm not an idiot. I know nothing else is going to happen." She pressed her lips together briefly. "Are we done talking now?"

His frown only deepened at the information spewing out of her. "No." He answered, unsure if he were now more or less confused than before he knew what was going on in her head. "Kid, I'm not goin' anywhere. This may not have happened the way I would have preferred, but I'm not about to deny that I wanted it to." He caressed her jaw soothingly as he winced a bit. "Admittedly you had to bully me into it, but I wouldn't have let you unless it was what I really wanted." He eyed her. "I meant what I said last night about you bein' mine. I'm not lettin' you go, I don' tcare how stubborn you intend to get about this."

Her eyebrows came together in confusion. "You… you want to be in a relationship?"

He titled his head. "We've been in a relationship since we met."

"I mean you want to court me?"

"If you'll stop runnin' me in circles long enough for me to try." He tapped her cheek. "I'm tired of all this plottin'. Save it for the politicians, all it does is rile me up."

She went shrewd all at once, the acknowledgement that he had no intention of taking off sending her back into a safe haven where she could scheme some more. "I think you like to be riled up."

"I thought I told you to behave." He growled.

"Because I listen so well." She commented.

That had him smiling in amusement and he kissed her chastely. "What was I thinkin'?"

"I don't know." She answered. "What were you thinking?"

He considered that briefly. "I'm wondering if I can get this sheet off you."

She blushed. "Now?"

He raised an eyebrow. "It does seem rather ideal with us in your bed and my pants six feet that way." He indicated the pile of clothes scattered between the bed and the door.

Her blush deepened. "You saw me last night.

He was getting more and more enjoyment out of her strange modesty figuring the whiskey had given her a bit of liquid courage the previous night. "You didn't give me much of a chance to admire you last night. I thought I'd take the mornin' to do that."

She started hedging. "I think-"

He kissed her gently and pulled back about an inch. "DG, last night you shared somethin' with me that you never get to share again. I'm not sure what you possibly think you have to hide from me at this point."

"But it was dark." She said rather lamely.

He chuckled at that, his whole body shaking. "Yes, it was dark." He began to tug at the fabric carefully.

"I'm glad we can agree on that." She said as she tugged the sheet back in place.

He laughed again, kissing her warmly and enjoying this banter much more than the fighting. "I've touched every inch of you inside and out. Why won't you let me see you?"

Her face was pink all over. "I'm shy!"

He burst out laughing. "You're shy the way I'm docile. Let me see you, Deeg." He peeled the sheet away as he encouraged her. "Come on, Darlin'."

"Cain." She protested as she flushed pink.

Giving up on getting her out he tried to compromise. "If I can't see you can I get under there with you? I'm gettin' cold." That one worked for him and she allowed him to slip under the sheet with her. Before she could protest he slipped his arm around her and tugged her against his chest so they were facing one another. When he had her snug he kissed her gently. She smiled at him shyly when he broke away and he tucked her hair behind her ear. "I want to make a deal with you."

"What kind of deal?" She asked as she pressed into the hand he had running down her back.

"You stop limitin' my options to an extreme degree and let me love on you the way you deserve to be loved on, and I'll stop bein' a stubborn tin man where you're involved."

She eyed him critically. "For real?"

"For real." He said, using her own unique slang as he reached up to caress her cheek. "I'm pretty lost on you, but I'm gettin' tired of you loosin' me left and right. You let this settle between us the way it's supposed to instead of manipulatin' it and I promise we'll have a good time of it."

She threw out her own demands at once. "You don't get to turn off on me and you have to use my name, my real one." She played with the edge of the sheet again as she spoke and he noted the behavior as a nervous action. "Last night you asked what would make me happy. I want to be with you, I don't want to be your princess, that's what it's going to take."

He didn't point out that she was always going to be his princess because he understood what it was she needed from him. She needed him to be her equal or it would never work. She needed a man that would stand beside her, one that would stand up to her, and one that wasn't afraid to fight with her if he thought she was in the wrong. She needed him to keep her grounded the way he needed her to keep him smiling at ridiculous things. "That seems like a fair deal to me, DG." He smiled when she leaned in and kissed him.

"Okay then." She held her hand out and he chuckled as he took it and shook it firmly. "Deal."

"Now." He rolled her to her back before she knew what was happening. "If you'll let me I'd rather like to show you just how happy that deal made me." Her giggling was cut off when he kissed her and he was delighted when it transformed into a soft moan. Thinking all of this had gone a lot better than he anticipated, he slowly lowered himself over her as her hands began to explore him inquisitively. He sighed her name happily and she smiled at him as she kissed at his jaw line. Yes, this was much better than he anticipated. Now he could show her just how good they could be together, he could show her it was safe to let her guard down, and he could show her that he meant what he said being with her. He doubted it would be smooth sailing all the time, but he didn't mind weathering some typhoons every now and then. For now he was more than content to show her how good it could feel to be with him, because it felt damn near to perfect to be with her. Everything else they would work out later.

Author Note: Yay for short ones! Did everyone enjoy? And more happy news! The next Catalyst chapter is about half done! Wheeeee!