I've just been reading the archive a little (it's been so fun, there are so many talented writers on here) and I just realized that this story is NOT M for mature. It's more PG13. So I'm moving it. Carry on.

I suppose I must put a disclaimer here. I did not think of the Tin Man world or the characters and places contained therein. I recieve no money or chocolate for writing this work.

I wrote this story in four parts for a friend of mine, and she has convinced me to publish it. I'm a bit frightened as I've not done this before. Please be gentle.

After

Wyatt found DG by the Poppy Garden fountain. She was staring into it as though she were expecting some scene to play out in the sheets of falling water.

"DG, you can't do this," he said in his abrupt, matter-of-fact manner.

"Can't do what," she answered flatly, not bothering to turn to him.

"You don't love this guy. He doesn't love you. You can't marry him. It's wrong, you know it is. You're better than that."

She turned and he took in her bearing. Arms crossed under her breasts, little chin stubbornly set, eyes rimmed with red but no tears falling. Yet. She was in a fighting mood and he was about to be her punching bag.

"I don't have a choice. Even if my mother lives another twenty years, no one will support Azkadellia as queen, not after all she's done, and my father has no claim to the throne himself. I got us all into this mess, and it's my job to get us out. I will marry and produce an heir."

"In a few years, maybe. But not now. You don't have to now. You have time to fall in love with someone."

"Falling in love with someone may not be an option. I owe it to the people of the OZ to align myself with a stable, royal family."

"And what about love?"

Her stubborn chin got a lot more stubborn. "Love for my country is enough."

Wyatt couldn't fathom why someone as passionate and care-free as DG could say something so cold and calculated. It was something…well, something more like what he would say. "You deserve better."

"Like who, Cain? You need to tell me who. Who else should I marry? You?" Yes.

Yes. "At least I'd care for you, and you'd care for me too." I'd love you.

He wasn't sure what he was expecting her to do. Smile? Be happy? Hug him? Punch him? Anything other than the utter look of despondency that replaced her stubborn look of only a few seconds earlier. A track of tears fell down one cheek.

"That's exactly why I can't marry you." Even though I want to.

He approached her cautiously, like one would a wounded dog. "Why not, kiddo?" He put his hands on her arms. Her tiny muscles were tense.

"Because I know us. Eventually, we'll fall in love with each other, and you can't love me. Not ever. No one can." I already love you.

"That's not true. You're amazing, and many people already love you." I already love you.

Her cheeks turned pink and she looked down at her shoes. Both cheeks were now wet with tears, and one drop clung tremulously to her chin, now wrinkled with unvoiced sobs. "They shouldn't. I betray and hurt everyone who loves me."

Ah, so that was it.

"You have never betrayed or hurt me or Ambrose or Raw. We love you." When she turned her head and took a breath to argue, he jumped in, "We do. We love you." I love you.

"And I betrayed all of you and hurt all of you." She sank down onto the lip of the fountain. Wyatt knelt in front of her. "You were in that suit…Raw's entire race was enslaved and Ambrose...the things he suffered because of me."

He managed to pull her arms off of her sides and chafed her cold hands between his.

"Your wife died. Your son was left to make his way alone, without his father. All because of me."

"And because of you, the OZ is now safe. Delia is now safe. I am safe. Raw and his people are safe. Ambrose is…Ambrose."

When that failed to elicit a smile, he changed tack.

"DG, I was imprisoned in that suit. I was left to rot, and my family had to make do without me. Not a day goes by that I wonder whether I should have…I don't know…stayed safe. Played nicely with others. Not made waves. Joined the Longcoats and just keep my head down and do what needed to be done for all of us. My life would be so different now. But who knows in what way? My wife may still have died, or me. My son could have decided to follow in my footsteps instead of leading a resistance. I never would have forgiven myself for that. And who would have been there for you? Who would have kept you from getting yourself killed the first second you decided to do something stupid. Not me. You made a mistake when you were a very small child, but everything that happened afterwards worked together to this end where you are now. And you're going to give it all up to live a passionless existence because you think it's for the good of your country. How would it benefit anyone to see you miserable?"

"You make it sound like I'm making a great sacrifice, as though there is another option. I owe this to the people of the OZ. I owe a stable ruler, and Prince Janus is from an old, stable lineage. Even if I wanted to find someone else, there is no one here that I have not directly caused pain to. Not one person. Everyone in the OZ has suffered because of me directly. It's hard enough to see all of you every day. To be married to you…one of you," she suddenly corrected. "I just couldn't bear it." You should be waking up next to her every day; not me.

"If you do this, then all of the sacrifice, all of the pain that we have already had will be for nothing. If you can't forgive yourself, then none of us can either. And we will never heal. You need to show that it can be done. That healing can happen." That love can happen.

Her face crumpled as if it were imploding on itself. "But not for me. Never for me!"

He brought her close and held her for a moment before he decided that this called for desperate measures. He handed her his pocket handkerchief and let her dry her eyes, and then he…well, there was no better word for it…assaulted her mouth. She went stiff in his arms, but then she relaxed as he sucked first her upper lip and then her lower lip into his mouth. By the time he slipped his tongue between them, she was responding.

This is so right.

Oh Wyatt, don't ask me to do this. I can't.

"You tell me you can live without that," he breathed against her ear. I can't.

"I have to."

Cain stood up and brought her with him, shaking her ever so slightly. "Dammit, DG, do I have to make love to you right here? Because I will!"

Her eyes went icy cold. "I believe Janus expects a virgin on our wedding night, so it's best that you don't."

Well, Raw had told him she had put up about a million shields. And he already knew how stubborn she would be. Delia was the one who had given him license to seduce her into submission. Ahamo had turned the other way and Lavender's lips had quirked at that idea.

"I don't know about this Janus character, but if it were me, I'd slice my own arm open and bleed all over the sheets for you if it meant just one night—one hour—of loving you."

"You'd do anything for me?" Her eyes shone bright as she looked up at him.

"To make you happy? To make you smile? I'd do anything you wanted. I'd kill for you." Hell, I'd live for you.

"Then you have to let me do this."

Gotcha. "Not a chance."

DG definitely looked like she was about ready to hit him. "But you just said—"

"I said to make you happy." He smirked and raised an eyebrow. "This marriage won't make anyone happy, least of all you. When will you get that through your thick, stubborn, fool head?" Beautiful head.

"I've already torn your life apart once," she whispered. What if I do it again?

"Then don't do it again. If you marry this idiot, that's exactly what you'll be doing."

"Why?" Please mean it. Please mean it.

Why?! "Why do you think, kid?" Oh Great and Powerful, let me say this without breaking down like a baby. "I love…" his voice broke. "I can't possibly live…or imagine a future without you in it. With me." He clasped her hands, no longer worried she would run off. "I…"

"You."

"Love…"

"You love."

"ILoveYou," he said in a whoosh before his voice could betray him again.

"You love me," she repeated.

Wyatt took a breath. "I love you." Ah, this was getting easier.

The smile started at the corner of her mouth. It was slow to form, she was fighting it. But once it hit her eyes, she couldn't stop. "You love me." The suns had nothing on her smile.

Wyatt wrapped his arms loosely around her this time. She was no longer a bird to fly away. "Yes." Forever and always yes.

DG buried her face in his shirt. "But I'll just end up hurting you again."

"No you won't."

"I hurt everyone."

"No you don't."

She looked up at him. "What if—"

"Listen to me, Dorothy Gale. I won't live my life on what if. I will only live right here right now, and I know you. You would never hurt anyone willingly, and I know you learn from your mistakes. You won't hurt anyone unwillingly either. Not again. Not if you marry me instead of this fool Janus."

She fisted her hands in his shirt. "Marry you?"

"Marry me. When you want to, not before."

Her lips twisted. "You'll really bleed all over the sheet for me?"

Wyatt couldn't help himself. He laughed. "If you want me to. But I don't care. I don't." Your sister doesn't either…haha…better not say that.

DG threw her arms around his neck and practically choked him. "Yes! Oh, Wyatt, yes."

Yes!

But before that happened...TBC