Disclaimer: Like the Han Christian Anderson fairy tale, I do not own Tin Man but that does not stop it from enriching my life, one way or another.

Author's Note: Well it's been a while since I did one of these. I figured since Gulch is demanding some down time and the Game Night Series is not cooperating at present, I might as well have a go at a fairy tale I've been wanting to do for a while. I've always kind of liked it, as it left quite the impression on my young mind, and the tone is something I've wanted to have a crack at. Hope you enjoy.


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There once was a brave young tin man who dedicated his life to the protection of the Realm and its people. He was an honourable man, well known in Central City for his integrity, respected by friend and foe alike for his grit. When darkness fell on the Realm he stood steadfast, refusing to bow his head to evil, determined to fight for what was right.

For this he paid most dearly.

His family was lost to him, taken as he was locked away to endure annuals of torment, his wife killed, his son left to grow up an orphan in a land at war. For almost a decade the tin man did not know what had become of them, for near a decade all he knew was the sight and sound of his greatest failure. And then one day his prison was opened, and an old, emotionally battered Tin Man fell back into the world.

The first thing he saw was the young, blue eyed girl that was and would be his salvation.

For when the Tin Man first stepped back onto the brick road, his thoughts were only of vengeance, of the dark path that led to the end of it all. It was her presence that forced him to clothe himself once more in the tattered remnants of his honour, her quest to save the Realm that forced him to remember all that he once was – and must be again.

Because in the end the Tin Man could never be anything but steadfast.

And so, even now that the task has been accomplished and the Realm freed, the Tin Man continues to watch over the young woman – the princess as it turns out – as she rediscovers this brave new world that was once her home. She sparkles and shines as she flits about the palace, determinedly learning how to fill the role she suddenly finds herself thrust into as the future ruler of the O.Z. At the balls she is more radiant still, ever defiant to the pomp and ceremony that she so hates, laughing and dancing about, that light shining in her eyes, beguiling all who look upon her, making her subjects love her dearly.

Perhaps none more so than the Tin Man.

He tells himself to look away, not to wish for what is not, cannot be his – but he pretends not to hear because she is flitting this way and he never can help but bask in the glow of her presence. It should concern him how often she shuns the company of her peers in favour of her rag tag group of friends, he should stop her from neglecting the attentions of her eligible young suitors in order to pull him into the dance instead, but he doesn't. Never will you hear the Tin Man fault her for that loyalty which is her greatest strength.

And in the end it is his, too.

War came upon them unexpected, an outside Realm perceiving the O.Z. as weak, easy prey after the devastation that was the Sorceress' reign and the civil war that encompassed it. The call to arms went up and to the Tin Man there was no other choice but to answer, for long ago he had sworn to protect this Realm, and ever will he stand steadfast between danger and the princess that dwells at its heart.

Also, he promises not to fall out of any windows.

The battles stretch out over months and then into annuals, taking the Tin Man far from the land and the people he sought to protect. From the scorching sands of the Deadly Dessert to the rain sodden forests of Ev the war raged on, taking the brave defender to places darker than he'd ever been, than he'd thought he'd ever go. But through it all his thoughts turned to the princess, the memory of her laughter and her life shining like a light to lead him through the blackness. Once he was thought lost at sea, but the Tin Man stood firm against the odds and made his way through the gales as if they contained his own personal compass.

And then one day, like a miracle, the war was over and he could at long last follow his heart home again.

He almost didn't believe it when he saw her again, so long had her image been held carefully in his mind, accompanying him on his journey. It was hard not to, though, when she threw herself forward into his arms, the solid impact of her youthful exuberance almost knocking him over. And he wanted nothing more than to keep her there.

There was just one thing he had to do first.

It was in the old cabin, on a dark and stormy night, that he found it, just where he left it what seemed a lifetime ago – a lifetime, perhaps, just a little too long. For, as if by some last cruel spite of fate, a bolt of lightning slammed into the wood dwelling, knocking the Tin Man from his feet, shattering the roof…

…and setting it ablaze.

Pinned and disorientated, the Tin Man fought to free himself, the image of his princess dancing before his eyes. The future he wanted to have…but he struggled in vain against the weight trapping him, the fire growing brighter and brighter as if in mockery of the light that had become his guide. So bright, in fact that he could almost swear he saw her amongst the flames. Even as he thought it, the fire seemed somehow to grow hotter yet, as if his focusing on her image fanned the fire into still greater a fury, consuming the old cabin, leaving nothing behind but the melted remains of his gun…and the ring he meant to give her…

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Wyatt Cain wakes up in a world of white.

It is calm there, peaceful, his mind floating in a strange sea of fuzzy contentedness as he traces a gaze across a white ceiling, down white walls, over the white sheets of that seem, oddly enough, to cover him, and finally fixates on the white bandage-clad hand wrapped firmly around his own – a hand that is attached to a certain princess who is currently a great deal paler than he'd like, and whose eyes begin to shine once more as they meet his own. The sparkling promise of tears leads to the abrupt exit of a disgruntled looking man Cain had previously overlooked, who grumbles about DG's intrepid fiery rescues resulting in the need for further intrepid fiery rescues – because, apparently, DG had decided to cheat fate this one time more.

She is all for romantic endings, after all, she just prefers the ones that include 'and they lived happily ever after…'