Disclaimer: I keep looking for ownership but it hides itself too well.

Author's Note: I am lending DG another one of my childhood memories, except that my childhood didn't have the Tin Man in it – I was a deprived child. For those of you who haven't played kick the can, it's basically a combination of hide-and-go-seek and tag, except you kick a can instead of tag. Kick the can in the dark is played, well, in the dark, and makes the game far better in the process.


...


The Tin Man could think of a munchkin's dozen reasons why he should object to this game. It was a major security risk. There was absolutely no way to keep track of all the players, it basically necessitated that the majority of the Royal Family lose their protection details, and, in the process, left them effectively exposed. Not to mention that the very nature of the game made it impossible to distinguish between an assassin lurking in the shadows and a player not quite succeeding in hiding themself properly. Some of the guards appeared to need a refresher course on remaining inconspicuous…

But regardless of the valid training opportunities this game represented it was a bad idea, for so many reasons that Cain could list. He just couldn't remember them for longer than five minutes at a stretch. Possible because that was precisely how long it took DG to start shifting closer again…

Hey, it was cold on the tin roof and he was the only heat source available to her. He had tried to convince her to wait for a warmer night to play, but the Crown Princess had been determined. Now it felt like she was trying to burrow right through his side and into his chest…hadn't he been objecting to something?

DG shifted again and Cain dismissed the thought, attempting instead to wrap the corner of his duster further around her. One of the disadvantages of their location was that it provided almost no protection from the cool breeze. Given that the roof itself was steadily losing its heat with the deepening night, this was beginning to make their hiding place more than a little uncomfortable. And since they'd hidden themselves by the simple expedient of lying flat and allowing the darkness to conceal their presence, the Tin Man didn't dare risk enough movement to remove his jacket, lest he become silhouetted against the sky and reveal their position. The princess wouldn't thank him for that; their hiding spot was perfect after all.

Well, except for that small hitch of them being trapped that is.

The youngest princess was right about one thing, though, it was the perfect hiding spot. Too perfect in fact, because for the last half hour or so the rest of the participants had stopped playing for worry that they hadn't seen spine nor feather of the Crown Princess in far too long time. Cain couldn't blame them, if DG weren't curled up so tight to his side he was practically lying on top of her, he'd be concerned she'd yet to put in an appearance, too.

At least the guards were aware of the inherent risks to the game.

The only problem with this was that the garden shed had been selected in part for its line of sight to the tower so they'd know when to make a run for it. Unfortunately, the added searchers ensured that there was never a time when someone wasn't in sight. Which meant that the second they moved off the roof they would be spotted, and since the youngest princess was adamant about not giving away her secret hiding spot…

And then DG shifted against him yet again and Cain was abruptly aware of a whole new list of reasons why they should…shouldn't be playing this game that had absolutely nothing to do with her security…

Then she breathed in his ear. The Tin Man had a distinct impression of words being whispered in the midst of it all but by the time he'd managed to get his mind back to any state capable of understanding them, DG was already leaping from the roof in a manner his knees wouldn't thank him for emulating and setting off in a dead sprint across the lawn. He caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye…

The intercepting guard let out a rather undignified shriek and came to a dead halt as the revolver fire exploded at his feet. Alarms went up all around the palace, the Royal Guard going into instant alert in response. Wyatt Cain supposed he could tell them it was a false alarm, but if they were going to play idiotically hazardous games in the middle of the night then they might as well use the opportunity to keep the guards on their toes.

Besides, the Tin Man considered, as a laughing DG completed her run and booted the 'tower' through the air, the guard should have known better than to make sudden movements in the direction of the princess. Cain wondered, as he eased himself down from his perch, how many he could disarm before they figured out what was going on…