Despite the hardships this vow may bring,

I take this oath freely, and with all my heart.

The next thing he remembered was hearing movement and reaching for his gun. He was too groggy for much else. Very gently, his arm was pushed aside and he heard footsteps.

"You've been sleeping for hours like a baby with his pacifier." Cain relaxed at hearing Glitch's shaky tenor. He cracked his eyes open to see the man loading wood into the small fireplace.

"I thought you were dead." Cain said tiredly.

A pause., and the bed creaked. He could feel Glitch sitting near his feet. "Ditto." The voice was quiet and subdued.

There was so much he wanted to say and so much he wanted to ask, but the most he could manage was to keep breathing.

"You know, I may have saved you from hypothermia, is what saved you life." There wasn't the nervousness in Gitch's voice as he spoke, just a quiet gravity and compassion. He held something out towards Cain.

It took a moment for his eyes to focus. In Glitch's long fingers, there was Jeb's little tin horse, the bullet lodged in its forelegs.

"It stopped the bullet." Glitch said.

Cain brought the toy to rest on his chest, taking a few breaths for strength. "D.G.?"

Glitch bowed his head. "Azkedellia."


"I...I don't know. Can't find him." Those heavy-lidded eyes were full of pain. "Maybe they took him, too, or he's dead. "

"Maybe he ran away." It wasn't an unreasonable idea. This wasn't the Viewer's fight, and his kind had more to fear than most.

"You know, you should really do something about that bitter cynicism of yours, Cain."

"Why?" Cain answered, making a weak attempt at humor. "Someone's got to keep your wide-eyed optimism in check."

Glitch turned away angrily and looked into the fire. They sat there silence for a few moments before Cain spoke again.

"Hey, Glitch..."

"What?" Glitch said sharply.

He wanted to say "I'm sorry," but it didn't come out that way. "I owe you one."

Glitch turned, a smile as warm as summer across his angular face. "You know, Cain, psychiatric therapy is only a crow's call away these days..."

He was about interrupt and ask Glitch about the hypothermia part when he looked around. De Milo kept a decent furnace in this crate, and there were plenty of blankets. Still it would take a long time to warm a man just with -

Glitch's shirt was on backwards, and the zipper-head was blushing a bit. That told the story of just how he had been warmed up. And come to think on it, when he had been pulled out of the suit, he had been bathed and put in a nightshirt...

So much for dignity on this trip. Kicker of it was that he didn't really care.

"We're going after her, right?" he asked.

"Well, yes." Glitch said. "It's the reason I saved your life, even if you can be an ass. I go alone, and I'm liable to forget who I'm looking for at the worst possible moment. Now, I've fixed the axle..." Glitch moved to the front and the driver's seat, adjusting the mirrors. "It's...south...southwest! That's it!"

And as he heard Glitch fire up the truck and felt it move beneath him, Cain put the little tin horse to the side and reached over for his coat, still drying on the line. He pulled the tin badge out of his pocket.

The Mystic Man was right, and so was Glitch. He would find the Princess, and hope he could find Raw, too. They saved his life so he could save theirs, not throw it all away on revenge.

And maybe...maybe his family was still out there.

The first time he swore the Oath, he was twenty-two, standing in the open air of Wizard's Square, one hand on the Oziad and the other held to his heart. This time, he said it only to himself and the Unnamed God.

I swear to defend with my axe

And to shield with my tin,

The safety of the innocent that is more dear than my own,

From the smallest insect to the greatest monarch.

I protect the good from the wicked; so I must be pure of heart

I defend the truth; so I must never lie.

Standing guard so others may rest, I work and do not tire.

I am prepared at any moment to give my life for those I protect.

Despite the hardships this vow may bring,

I take this oath freely, and with all my heart.

I serve and protect the Land of Oz.

I am a Tin Man.

He wasn't a former Tin Man. He still was a Tin Man – and as long as he lived, so did the Oath.