Disclaimer: I don't own Tin Man, obviously... this is just practice for writing more legitimate literature.

Love Between Friends

Starting a relationship was never particularly easy. At least, not when it was done right. And especially when it was borne from friendship, it wasn't. Attraction could be fleeting and more or less one sided. Conversation could be troublesomely dull when lives and experiences were shared to such a degree. And the change in the dynamic could make the new lovers miss their previous relationship with each other. But for a pair of middle aged, emotionally and physically scarred men, making the switch from friends to partners was damn near impossible.

Affection between the two men was, even before they attempted to make a go of it, apparent to any person who spent just a few minutes with them. Ambrose, or Glitch as he was better known, fairly swooned when the former tin man paid him the least amount of attention. While Wyatt Cane displayed a kind of possessive vigilance of the headcase, that no person would dare challenge. Ever since whatever had happened between the two at the northern palace - something that neither of them ever offered to share with their other friends - they had played off one another like they had known each other for their entire lives. Glitch could make Cane smile and bring out all of his best, most human qualities. And Cane could make Glitch focus on a thought or memory for longer than anyone else besides Raw, who had to use psychic powers to do very the same thing.

It was Jeb Cain who pushed his father into taking his relationship with the other man to the next stage. A surprise since the young man didn't personally have the patience to deal with Glitch and his inconsistencies. Jeb liked Glitch well enough, and respected the sacrifice he had made as Ambrose for the sake of the O.Z. But the only time when the two men had been alone together had ended with Glitch up a tree like some poor cat unable to climb down, and Jeb near to tears with frustration and seriously considering shooting him down. Luckily for both men, Wyatt Cane showed up with some old gadget which Ambrose had left unfinished on his desk which brought the headcase back to earth in a rush to explore the trinket. And to Jeb, Wyatt simply calmed him with a gentle hand on his shoulder, saying, "can't force, coerce".

Some days after the "tree incident" - as it had become known as by those who lived in the palace, Jeb went to his father and told that he had been with Glitch in hopes of discovering if the man would be a good match for his lonely father. Glitch was. Or rather, Wyatt had passed the test for him. Jeb explained to his father that having lost so much of the life he had built for himself, Wyatt obviously needed it to be replaced with a kind of pseudo-family. He needed a lover, someone to share his passions. And he needed a child, or someone who would depend on him in the like one. Glitch could be both. Despite his damaged brain, Glitch was wise enough and certainly loving enough, to be a lover. Yet because of his damaged brain, Glitch needed to be cared for and protected, like a child. It would be an odd relationship, Jeb conceded, but considering the situation thrust upon them by war, it was as ideal as could be had.

Wyatt had tried to protest to his son, pointing out that he still loved his wife though she was dead. He did not need a lover, or a replace

ment child for the years he had missed raising Jeb himself. However the young man was ready for argument and finished it before it continued with, "but Glitch needs you".

Less than a week later, Raw commented to DG that he felt a change in the between the elder Cane and their other companion.

The relationship did not appear to change a great deal to those on the outside of it. Glitch still followed Cain around, like a puppy eager for instruction and love. And Cain still kept a suspicious eye on everything that could do even the slightest harm to the clueless Glitch. But there was a small measure of signs which, to those who knew what to look for, were obviously acts that were newly forming habits. Such as the small touches the two shared, that were initiated by Cain rather than by the normally doting Glitch. There were also, the quiet smiles that the two men would share, which grew in number from the ones that they had since the northern palace.

It was when the two had their first fight that the relationship became known to every person in the palace. No one knew what it was specifically about, and some wondered if either Glitch or Cain even knew. All that was known was that no person had ever heard Glitch, or even Ambrose, yell quite like he did at Cain from the relative privacy of former advisor's study. Cain never said a word, but stormed out of the room and left the palace to work out his rage on some poor criminal. Then he came back a few hours later with a bundle of flowers for the other man and they went back into the study where the murmur of a sometimes heated conversation could be heard through the door by DG and Azkadellia .

Later, both men would quietly admit to DG and Jeb that the fight had been their fault. Glitch said to the princess, that he wanted the relationship to progress faster than his memory allowed him to know. While Cain told his son that he had himself, "dismissed" how easily Glitch could flounder and forget such monumental relationship moments, and blamed the headcase needlessly when he demanded to know why they hadn't shared their first kiss after two months together.

But both DG and Jeb were less sympathetic than were expected to be and both pointed out to the aging men that it should be wonderful getting to enjoy their first kiss over and over, forever until they passed into the afterlife.

The relationship did then seem to become more intense. Openly amongst their friends and family, the two men would speak with each other in a kindly way and with sweet affectionate terms. And when they were alone, or thought they were, they would stand or sit so close together that they cast one shadow. There was even one time when the Queen and her two daughters came across Glitch and Cane in the gardens, leaning against a fruit tree and wrapped around each other so passionately that all of the three women blushed deeply and went away in a quiet rush.

Cane was surprised later when Azkadellia approached him when Glitch was resting with his head tucked upon his lover's lap. The elder princess had, since being released from the witch's influence, become a sobering reminder of the war with her failing mental state. She rarely talked with any person besides her sister and never let any person touch her. The young woman simply stared at the two men for a long moment, and Cane wondered if he should wake Glitch. Finally the tension was broken when the princess spoke; "I am glad that you both have found each other, and I want to apologise to you for the cruelties I have done you and will do you". Then before Cane could respond she fled.

The short conversation between the princess and former tin man would be the last words that any person would hear said by Azkadellia. She was found the next morning in bed with an empty bottle of pills in her limp hand. Dead.

It took the palace a good amount of time to deal with the loss of the elder princess. Outside of it the news was celebrated. But those who knew the whole story of what had occurred between the the princess and the witch. Most felt a kind of pity for the girl and the royal family. And some mourned her.

But for Glitch the pain of her loss came from the realization that without her magic to aid the surgery, there was no hope for a return of the second half of his brain. That was when Cane understood her final words and decided that he would never repeat them. Instead he stayed by his lover's side as the man the troubled man spent hours staring at the half of his brain floating languidly in a tank. Sometimes Glitch would talk to it, as if he was talking to Ambrose as a different person. Other times he would simply sit leaning against the tank, being as close as he possibly could be to it, and simply listened. What he heard, Cain didn't know. He did understand deeply, however, the experience of being helpless and only able to watch as one's life and dreams were taken away. So Cane stayed, and helped Glitch through the turmoil.

Many of their friends came also, but not to offer their support and let the mourning man work through the myriad of emotions and thoughts. They instead wanted to force him away from it, to use his inability to remember things to stop his pain. But Cain knew that a person, especially one so heartfelt as Glitch, needed to feel the negative emotions to ever rightly feel the positive ones again. So he chased each visitor away despite their protests.

One night, after Glitch had already passed out against the tank, Cain did something that no one would have guessed he would, not even himself. Wyatt Caned talked to the brain floating in the tank, showing no sign of life but for the quite beep of the machine which measured its thinking. Of course, he didn't expect that the brain would answer him, so the conversation was as one sided as Azkadellia's was to him; "Hey Ambrose, you in there? Listen, you've got to let him go. Glitch can't spend the rest of his life here in this room with you, I'm sure you know that. Don't worry about him, I'm not going to leave. I'll be his brain, and he can be my heart".

The next morning, Glitch announced to everyone in the hall where court was in session, that he was ready to say 'goodbye' to Ambrose. When he was asked what he meant by the Queen, Glitch answered very thoughtfully; "It would be cruel to ask him to live like that any longer. It's time to let him rest". Cain, who had rushed after his lover when he'd gotten up from where they slept against the tank and went directly to the hall without even saying 'good morning' to the man he slept on, felt a swell of relief and pride. Glitch would be all right.

Some contention that the brain should be kept alive, for the sake of the kingdom. Even the queen hesitated to kill it. But neither Glitch or Cain would hear any of it. And after some debate, mostly headed by Cain, it was decided that Raw should be brought back from his lands so that they could 'speak' with the brain and hear its position.

But the meeting with Raw never happened. Raw came, but refused to touch the brain stating that it was dying already and would be too dangerous for anyone to attempt. But the way in which he stumbled over his words nervously, made Cane wonder if he was lying so to appear to be heeding the queen's request, but actually doing what he knew Glitch wanted.

After the aided death of the Ambrose half of his brain, Glitch asked Cain if he would take him away from the palace. He wanted a new beginning, somewhere where he didn't have to live in the shadow of the now perished half of his personality. Of course Cain agreed, himself ready to start anew also. So after a week of planning where they would go and the like, the two men announced that they would be leaving to their loved ones.

Surprisingly no one had any objections to their leaving, except to say that they would be missed. They had done their duty to everyone else, now it was time for them to live for themselves. And if leaving was part of the life they wanted, then so be it and may Ozma bless them.

They left two days later; just after sunrise. After a formal farewell by the queen and kisses from DG, both men mounted the same horse, which was not the initial plan but proved necessary when Glitch couldn't control his animal well enough. Cain grumbled a bit about the head case's unexpected inability to ride, but didn't seem at all displeased when Glitch climbed in the saddle behind of him, and wrapped his arms neatly around the stronger man's torso and rested his cheek against his back.

Jeb rode out with them for some miles before they stopped to let the father and son say a proper goodbye. No one knew for certain when they would see each other again since Cain had planned to take Glitch to the eastern kingdom where neither man had a past to haunt them. Jeb was, in fact, the only person who knew exactly where the two older men were headed and was instructed to keep it secret until they sent word.

It wasn't said aloud to be so, but Jeb knew that his father planned to treat this journey as a kind of long deserved rest and honeymoon. So as Glitch was preoccupied with getting the horses drink, Jeb secreted into his father's had a small package of wrapped cloth and instructed him to open it. Inside was a small golden ring, plain but for the small crystal blue gem set inside the top of the band. It was the very ring which Wyatt had given to Adora when she'd agreed to be his wife.

Jeb explained that he had kept the wedding ring when he had buried his mother and intended to use it himself when he found a woman worthy to spend his life with. But, he said, it was obvious that his father wasn't done with it yet; "I always wondered why mom's ring was so masculine, it didn't fit her personality at all. Now I know why, it wasn't just for her. It's like Ozma herself knew that you'd share your heart with two people, when she had choose that one to give mom".

So Jeb had had the ring re-sized. One advantage to Glitch having troubles with memory was that one could get away with just about anything without him noticing, especially if it was something so completely out of his normal routine. Jeb had simply gone to the man and asked him to put the ring on and then took it back when he saw that it needed to be just a bit bigger. And Glitch, surprised by the request simply forgot that it had happened at all after the young man had asked him about dancing.

Holding the ring between his fingers, Wyatt considered it for a moment. He never thought he'd ever see the small treasure again. It made him remember when he'd bought it, nervous and unsure if the ring would suit Adora, even then he thought it too masculine. But when he'd given it to Adora she'd smiled beautifully and said that it was the most beautiful thing that she'd ever seen. Holding the her newly decorated hand high to look at the it in a new light she noted that the gem matched Wyatt's eyes, which made it all the more perfect in her eyes. She never did mention if she thought the piece was too masculine, so Wyatt said nothing over the years, though he ever thought that it was indeed too heavy on her hand. Now though, he couldn't imagine anyone but Adora wearing it.

It seemed an odd thought to give Glitch the wedding ring he'd given to Adora. Even if their relationship progressed to such a degree that he would consider actually marrying the other man, shouldn't he buy a new ring for the man? Wouldn't it be an insult to both Glitch and the memory of Adora to give him this ring? Was it right? Should he give it back to Jeb, perhaps to give to some young lady, which was certainly acceptable? Why did his son give it to him at all?

Jeb watched his father struggle with himself for some moments, pitying the man's position in having to live with the murder of his wife, a crime that he felt that he should have prevented. It would haunt him, Jeb was sure, for the rest of his life. And though some part of him did indeed blame the former tin man for the family's suffering, he also didn't want him to suffer for his crime any longer. Eight years was more than enough.

The son also noticed that his father still wore the ring Adora had given him at their wedding. It was a plain gold band that was stained with many years of wear. There were nicks all over it and in one pace, Jeb knew, there was a dent that his father had gotten when he's punched a man in the line of work, but his father hid it on the inside of his palm for shame of damaging it so badly. But despite all of the imperfections the ring was clearly cared for. The shine that it did have would not have been reliable if the elder Cain had never polished it. And it appeared that his father had polished it, not too long before in fact. So clearly, his father did indeed think of Adora and treat her memory with all due respect.

Finally Jeb put his father's wondering to rest and answered the so many unsaid questions; "I gave it to you because this ring represents you, and you have given yourself to another already. And I don't think mom would mind, actually I think that she'd be relieved that you've found someone to spend the rest of your life with. She wouldn't have wanted you to be alone for another forty years. 'Sides you never could take care of yourself unless you were taking care of someone else. Guess that's the tin man in you".

"But I can't give this to..." Wyatt tried to protest to his son.

"Maybe not, but keep it anyway. At least you'll have it if you change your mind."

Father and son then said goodbye and shared an embrace which Glitch enthusiastically joined by unexpectedly wrapping his long arms around the two and pulling them even closer together, making the three men laugh. Jeb then instructed Glitch to take care of his father and to teach him to dance, which Wyatt grumbled at. And Glitch told Jeb that he would indeed do both, and that DG's favorite flowers were blue seaside daisies, which made Jeb blush hotly and Wyatt raise a brow to.

They then said goodbye once more as Wyatt and Glitch mounted their horse and Jeb his own. And as his father and his lover rode into the distance, Jeb watched wondering if he would ever see the ring he'd returned to his father again.

Jeb's answer came nearly a year later, when the two men returned to the southern palace for his wedding to the princess. For some reason Jeb felt nervous about seeing his father again after so long, and held his fiance's hand so that the impressive ring on her finger cut into his palm. But that was not the ring which caught his attention as his father and Glitch came into the main hall for a formal reunion. It was the ring which encircled Glitch's pale hand, the one that had been his mother's that made Jeb raise his brow like his father had done when Glitch told him what kind of flowers DG liked. And on his father's hand was not only the tarnished old ring which his mother had claimed him with, but another made of gold also but with a zipper design etched into its circle, Glitch's claim.