Author's Note: Tin Man isn't mine. Figured I'd throw that out for the four hundredth time.
She was lying quiet and still on her makeshift bed as the rain hit the canvas top of the truck softly. It had been raining for hours, and she and Cain had retreated to their temporary home in an attempt to stay dry. They had a good enough time that evening, sitting among the supplies and playing cards as the downpour continued, and when he determined it wasn't going to let up before dark he had actually shrugged without worry, letting the work they weren't getting done go with an ease that shocked her. He wasn't exactly laid back and she knew he was getting tired of being out in the fields, even if they were safe out here. Between her magic, which she could handle now, and the packs of papay guarding them like rabid pit bulls, she doubted anyone would bother them. She had even offered to go another few hours with her raincoat, but he had told her not to worry about it, so she hadn't.
Instead, she had taught him to play a card game from her side that he enjoyed, laughing as he tried to keep up with the speed the game demanded. They had shared a meal afterwards, and now they were stretched out in the back of the truck surrounded by their supplies and darkness. He was dead asleep a foot to her left and she had her back to him as she stared at a box and listened to him breathing. She was exhausted, and if she were ever going to sleep she thought having him so close to her would be all she needed, but her nightmares were getting truly awful. She just didn't want to sleep. So she lay there silently, hoping to at least let her body rest.
She didn't know how long she lay there before he rolled over and came at least partially awake. He did this fairly often; as if his body was afraid to stay asleep too long for fear they would be snuck up on. So he would wake up for a minute, make sure everything was safe, and fall back asleep. Last night she had counted to see how many times he did it, her answer was four. She stared at the box, waiting patiently for him to go back asleep again. He lifted his head and looked around briefly before laying back down.
Yawning, he settled again and she thought he was asleep a minute after that. Shifting quietly she turned over and stared up at the ceiling, tired of staring at the same box for another night. Maybe she would find the canvas more interesting, or at least the soft pattern the rain was thumping into it as the downpour continued. "Why aren't you sleepin'?" He rumbled out beside her.
She jumped at the sound. "Geez, Cain." She tried to get her heart to settle as the adrenalin jumped in her. "Take a year off my life."
His eyes came open and he smiled softly at her. "Sorry, Kid."
She hummed tiredly and turned back over so her back was to him. It was marginally easier to lie to him when he couldn't see her face. "Just can't fall asleep."
"Liar." He said softly. "You haven't slept in days."
She sighed quietly. "It's fine. Go back to sleep."
"We both know that isn't goin' to happen until you talk to me." He commented in a tone of voice that told her neither of them were that stupid. She knew very well now that he brought the topic up he would keep it right there between them until he had his answers, no matter how long that took him. He had considerably more patience than she did. She knew he would wear her down with ease. Figuring she was simply too tired to put up a decent fight, one he could at least respect her for, she gave in.
"I'm having a few unwanted dreams." She admitted quietly.
His hand was suddenly rubbing over her back, encouraging her to talk to him with gentle and affectionate warmth he only gave to her and Jeb. "What kind of dreams?"
"The cave, over and over again." She shivered at the hazy memory, knowing he would understand what she was talking about. "All I can hear are those horrible monkeys."
His arms slid over her waist and he tugged her and the blankets she was on over the small space separating them. "Come here, Darlin'." When she was against him she pressed back, wanting some reassurance despite the front she had tried to put up. "It's alright."
"It's stupid." She told him, knowing very well that it was.
"It's not stupid." He said sincerely. "There's nothing stupid about it. Why didn't you tell me?" She shrugged and his fingers brushed over her hand. "Deeg?"
"I don't know." She said softly. "I didn't want to make you worry."
He hugged her a little closer. "I worry more when you won't talk to me."
She sighed. "I have to work things out on my own sometimes."
"I won't argue with that, but you've got yourself set on doin' thing all by yourself all the time. That won't always work."
She felt he was overreacting to this ever so slightly. It wasn't like she was in imminent danger here. This was simply a very annoying annoyance that would eventually pass… Or she would lose consciousness due to sleep deprivation. One way or another it would be over in a week or so. "They're only dreams. We have bigger problems if you hadn't gotten the last dozen or so memos."
He didn't buy into that at all. "Gettin' your head right is as important as anything else. We've talked about this before."
Yes, she recalled that conversation very clearly. Her boys had totally ganged up on her, even Raw. It had been completely unfair, not that any of them had asked her opinion on the matter. "I took it under advisement."
"And then ignored it?" She said nothing and he sighed. "Why won't you trust me?"
"Are you serious?" She asked in shock. "I've never trusted anyone the way I trust you."
"Then why won't you talk to me?" He asked. She didn't have a real good answer to that if she were honest. He pressed for one though. "Why not, Darlin'?"
"I don't know." She said. "I never had anyone to talk to before. What am I supposed to say? When am I supposed to say it?"
She could tell that caught him utterly off guard for a moment. "You just say whatever it is you need to say, and now seems like a good time to me." He said after a prolonged pause. "What do you need to say?"
"I really hate monkeys?"
He huffed out a laugh behind her and she smiled, glad some of the tension dissipated. He found her hand and twined his fingers with hers, showing her physically that he was here with her and that they were as solid as they ever were. "What do you really need to say?" He prompted softly.
"I'm tired and I'm scared." She told him quietly. "And I really want to take a hot bath. I didn't say that to be funny, I really do want a bath pretty much more than anything other than to sleep."
"What are you scared of?"
She almost laughed thinking of all of it. "I don't think I have the energy to give you a full list."
"How about a top three then?" He compromised.
She shifted uncomfortably, feeling insecure despite how very secure he tended to make her feel. It seemed like too much sharing, what he was asking, too much of her scared inner self for him to see, and judge, and condemn. "Do we have to do this?"
"No, but I think it'll make you feel better if we do."
Her body curled up slightly at the assault, no matter how gentle and well intentioned it was. "Can I just say one thing?"
"Would that make you feel safer?"
She hadn't really thought about it that way, but it would. "Yes."
"Then tell me one thing." He said as he rubbed his thumb over her hand.
"It's not my top thing." She admitted.
"That's okay." He assured her quietly.
She was quiet for a moment. "When we got separated, after the witch kidnapped Ahamo and took the emerald, she locked me in a coffin." He went still behind her at that little tidbit she'd kept to herself for so long now, and she cleared her throat uncomfortably. "I couldn't breathe right and it took me a long time to get out. That's why I was so out of breath when you found me. I'm afraid of small spaces now, so when I dream about the cave it just makes it worse."
"Are you alright in the truck?" He asked at once, jumping at once to a practical issue he could help her control.
"Yeah." She said honestly. "I get jumpy in my closet though. How ridiculous is that, to be afraid of a closet?"
"Kid, that's not ridiculous." He assured her. "I can't stand mine either."
She squeezed his hand and he hugged her closer. "I'm sorry."
"There's nothin' about it you need to be sorry for." He said. "You had nothin' to with it or why I act that way, but let's talk about you for a few minutes. If we get back to me later that's fine, if not that's fine too. Now, are you really okay in this truck? I want you to be honest with me. I don't know how tight a space it has to be before you start to get bothered, and we can open up the side of this if you need that."
"The truck is really okay." She answered. "I can stretch out all the way no matter how I turn."
"So as long as you can stretch out you're comfortable?"
"As far as I can tell."
"Are the smaller staircases at home botherin' you?" She flinched and nodded. "Anything else other than that and the closet?"
"If I'm really tired or drained the bathtub. I won't take one after a lesson." Seriously, it felt like she was back in a coffin when that happened, except she was wet and naked on top of feeling trapped. Not an awesome experience.
"Is that it?" He pushed, needing to be sure he had all the information the way he always needed to have all the information on a subject that concerned her safety or well being.
"If you want we can work on that, but you're most likely always goin' to be nervous in tight spaces."
She turned that over for a moment, accepting what he said since she had basically worked that out on her own anyway. "Thank you."
"Telling me it's hard for you too."
"Ah, Darlin'." He sighed out. "You don't need to thank me for that. Not with the way we are."
She frowned. "The way we are?"
He squeezed her hand. "We're confidants."
The word sounded odd with his accent, but she liked it all the same. Turning over to her back she let her head fall to the side so she could see him. She kept firm hold of his hand as she moved and he made no effort to get her to let go. "We are?" Still, the thought, the idea of that, seemed too intimate for her to believe, or even grasp. She liked knowing that what she felt about their often complex relationship could be put into words she could grasp and agree with. She was amazed it was him that had manage to put it into words.
He watched her in the darkness, his light eyes visible even in the dim interior of the truck. "You've been my secret keeper for a long time now." His thumb began to brush over her hand gently. "Since you found me really. I showed you things I shouldn't have, things that I knew better than to show. I haven't stopped since have I?"
"No." She said softly. "Good thing too, you would have pissed me off to no end if you had. You have no idea the trouble you avoided there."
He smiled at that, his eyes twinkling. "Troublemaker."
"Only when necessary. Social withdrawal would have been solid ground for my wrath."
"I'm not goin' to go against you, I'll loose regardless of how well my argument is put together."
"Look at you learning." She teased gently.
"I'm old enough to have learned that lesson some time ago." His eyes were still twinkling. "I'll have you know my mother drilled into my head that no man is ever right by the time I was fifteen."
She laughed quietly and he smiled again. "Smart woman."
"Yes, she was."
She reached up and touched his forehead with her free hand briefly. "Is that where you got you're sneaky tin man brain?"
"I have no doubt of that. Although I'll have you know I got both my patience and temperament from my father."
"Interesting." She found she wanted to know more. "Were they good people, your parents?"
His smile went from amused to reminiscent. She was glad that now when she asked him about his past that horrible darkness no longer appeared. That had always made her nervous, mostly because it was the one thing she was sure he never had full control over. She had seen Cain loose that control before. Frankly, it wasn't a pretty thing to see, even if it had saved their asses. "Yes, they were very good people. My mother was a herbalist and my father was an artisan."
That surprised her for half a moment before she remembered what he could do with metal. She'd only seen one thing he'd made, and that had been prompted by a bad session with Raw one day over a year ago now, but the product had been beautiful. He'd made a rose out of scrap iron in Glitch's lab as he tried to work off his agitation. When she saw it in his room a few days later, unaware of what had transpired, she had picked it up in awe. She had been so enthralled by the piece of truly sublime craftsmanship, asking him who he had gotten it from, that he finally gave in and told her he had made it. At her look of stupefied wonder he had simply told her to keep it, in that gruff way he had when he was embarrassed over something. The rose was still sitting on her vanity prominently. If it hadn't been metal even she, a fairly talented painter and artisan, would have sworn it was a real rose about to burst into bloom. She had often wondered where he'd learned to craft like that as she sat staring at the piece, but had never built up the courage to ask. Maybe she had been afraid of the answer. "I would have liked to meet them."
"I would have liked that too." He said honestly. "They would have liked you, especially my father."
"I'm sure I would have liked him too. All you Cain men are pretty amazing. It must be a family trait."
Hip lip was curled up at the corner. "Now you're just flatterin'."
She smiled at that. "Only straight facts." She assured him.
"I'm holdin' you to that for a few more minutes. Are you feelin' any better now that we're talkin'?"
She watched him. "Yes and no."
"You'll have to explain that one."
She wasn't sure how. "I don't know. I feel better now that I said it, but…" She struggled, wanting to be honest. "Vulnerable is probably the best word."
He squeezed her hand. "I'm not goin' to tell anyone anything you tell me."
"I know." She said, both of them hearing the conviction in that. "I meant with you."
"Intimacy is like that." He told her soothingly. "That's what makes a relationship strong." She said nothing as she thought that through. Cain let go of her hand so he could cup her face. "You don't need to be afraid of it."
Another one of her secrets came tumbling out of her, much to the surprise of both of them. "People scare me."
He frowned. "What?"
The rest tumbled out. "They make me so nervous. I swear that's why Raw liked me so much at first. He had to have felt it on me and it must have confused the hell out of him that I could hide it." She was quiet for half a moment. "The only person that never really scared me was Glitch. I have no idea why he didn't."
He translated that easily enough. "I scared you?"
"Yes." She couldn't believe she was telling him any of this. She had sworn up and down to herself that no one would ever know, with the exception of Raw whom she simply couldn't hide anything from. Maybe it was the darkness, or the rain, or the closeness. Honestly, she had no idea. "In a lot of ways." She tried to smile. "But I wasn't as scared of you as I was of everybody else."
His hand moved again and he was pulling her against him, clearly upset by that. She was quick to cuddle into him. He rubbed her back as she hid her face in his shoulder, finding comfort there. "Are you still scared of me?"
"No." She said into his shirt. "Not anymore. You actually make me feel a hell of a lot better when other people are around. I know you'll shoot them for me if they get out of line."
"Anytime you need me to, Darlin'."
"That's my big one." She whispered.
He continued to rub her back. "Not an easy one for you. No wonder you were so eager to get out here."
"It's a lot easier to breathe out in the open."
"In every sense of the phrase." He said. "You're good at hidin' that one. I never noticed."
"I didn't want anyone to."
"You don't need to be embarrassed about it." He said. He must have heard the worry in her. "We've all got things that make us uncomfortable. This one is yours." He patted her back carefully. "Have they always made you jumpy?"
"As far back as I can remember. At least since I was ten."
"You stick with me and you won't have to worry about that as much."
"Except when I'm at huge meetings, balls, public appearances, or speeches."
"Except for those times." He agreed. He kissed the top of her head. "This will get easier." He whispered. "I know it doesn't feel that way, I know that sounds like a cop out, but it's true. I promise it'll get better."
"Is there a way to speed it up?"
"Maybe." He hugged her. "We can think on that after we sleep."
"I seriously can't deal with the monkeys anymore."
"And you seriously can't go much longer without rest." His hand left her long enough to tuck the blanket securely around her. "Either try for me now or pass out in the field, possibly in the mud. Is that what you want? To be a mud coated princess with no bath in sight?"
"When you put it like that? Not so much."
He smiled again. "Try to sleep for me, Deeg. I'll do my best to keep the nightmares away."
"That's a sweet if empty promise."
"I don't make empty promises." He said teasingly. "You wait and see."
She huffed at him disbelievingly but shut her eyes all the same. She did need to sleep or they were going to have a problem. "Thanks for listening to me."
"I like to listen to you." He told her. "The same way you like to listen to me." His lips brushed her forehead affectionately. "Now, you go on to sleep. We can talk more tomorrow if you have the mind for it. I think we went over more than enough for one night."
True that. Figuring she might as well take advantage she shifted closer to him, nearly abandoning her bedroll all together. In response he reached down and tugged the padding closer so she wasn't lying on the metal bed of the truck. Appreciating that he wasn't pushing her away more than she could say she relaxed, drifting off to sleep feeling secure under his arm.
Author Note: I love break! I have time to write! Yay! This should be another two or three parter. I'm really liking those recently. Also, a big thank you for all the reviews you guys have been sending me. They've been a huge happy boost in my now hectic and stressful life. Huggles!