Disclaimer: yeah right, if I owned Tin Man, do you think I would be writing fanfiction, instead of playing with my very own Cain of the tight-pants-hotness? C'mon!
Spoilers: For all 3 parts
Fourteen months had passed since the double eclipse and the freeing of Azkadellia from the Witch. She still hadn't figured out what they called 'months' in the Outer Zone, but at this point, she couldn't bring herself to care enough to ask.
DG turned away from the window where she had sat and watched the twin suns rising and sighed in resignation. Another night split between fitful sleep and endless hours of sitting and staring out into the darkness. The unwilling princess couldn't remember the last time she'd slept well, even for a few hours, let alone an entire night.
Words she had passionately spoken to her robo-parents many months ago and a world away came back to taunt her and play hauntingly in her mind.
This isn't my life… There has to be more to life than this. I just don't feel at home here… never have…
She'd been so naïve then, thinking she could actually have what she wanted, could actually be who she wanted to be. So stupid…
No matter where we find ourselves, home is where your heart is. 'That's great dad, DG thought as she began to dress for the day, but I can't seem to feel my heart anymore'.
The Queen and her Consort had moved quickly after the crisis had been averted. She and Az had been pulled back into the family fold and the three men that DG had come to see as family and the closest friends she'd ever known had been taken from her side. Raw had left, he'd gone back to the Viewer's homeland barely a week after the eclipse under the weight of his new title as the Viewer Ambassador to the Queen. Glitch… well, Glitch had finally gotten his brain restored and all of the personality that had made him so dear to her had been drowned by the re-emergence of Ambrose; a stuffy, officious man she had decided after the first re-introduction, that she could do without. And Cain… the Queen had sent him off with his son, ostensibly on a mission to gather the scattered Resistance fighters and round up the wayward Longcoats that were left from the Witch's reign. DG hadn't seen or heard from him since five days after the fight in the tower. He hadn't even said goodbye. By choice or not, she still didn't know.
It had been Azkadellia who had explained it to her confused, heartbroken younger sister. They sat in Az's chambers, less than a week after the eclipse, both sets of their guards and servants banished from the room.
"Mother and Father believe that keeping the three of them near you would have prevented you from fully accepting your old life. Would have hindered you in trying to learn how to perform your duties." The older sister had sighed unhappily and stroked the DG's hair gently as the younger princess sat curled on the floor at her feet. "And, frankly, the way that your Tin Man would look at you made them nervous and uncomfortable. I believe they decided he wasn't good enough for you and took steps to ensure things wouldn't go any further than they already had."
At that, DG had pulled back with an indignant gasp at the hypocrisy. "But Ahamo isn't royalty or nobility." She still refused to address either of her real parents by anything other than their names or titles. "He isn't even from the OZ! How could they do that?"
Az had just smiled sadly, even as she noted that her sister hadn't refuted the statement about Cain's visible feelings for her, or her own implied ones for him. "I never said it was logical Deeg, or fair, only that it was the rationale behind their actions."
DG had sat back from her sister and glared out the window for long minutes before she spoke again. "I'm not sure I can forgive them for this," she said, looking up at the older woman, her bright blue eyes as hard and as flat as her voice. Az had just nodded in understanding and commiseration.
Shaking herself, DG pulled her thoughts away from that long-ago day. She had changed after that conversation with her sister. Anyone who knew her from before likely wouldn't have recognized the cold woman she had become. Sometimes, staring into her mirror as she was now, she wasn't sure that even she recognized herself. Eyes that had once been full of life and mischief were now flat and dark and lifeless. Pale skin and the hard, brittle way she carried herself through life also marked the change. In the beginning, she had fought her mother on everything from protocol and history lessons to wardrobe changes and public appearances. Eventually she had come to realize that overt displays of rebellion got her nowhere. The majestic queen of the OZ was used to having her own way, and she'd be damned it that was going to stop now, just because of one recalcitrant daughter.
Instead, DG had learned subtlety. She stayed up late in the libraries, learning as much about her magic and how to control it as she could. Though she appeared to be bored and disinterested in her lessons with Tutor on magic and history, she was inwardly recording everything he said that was of possible use. Her plan, and the hope it spawned, was one of only two things that got her through each day, when she felt she might otherwise have just laid down and waited to die. The other thing keeping her going was Azkadellia. Despite the dark history that lay between them, the sisters had never been closer. Both had been isolated and cut off from the world around them, DG by choice and Az by the consequences of past actions ordered by the Witch possessing her body. But as close as they were, even Az didn't know what DG was planning. She felt bad about that, but she didn't want to risk hurting Az by telling her what she was planning, or worry that somehow the other woman would give her away and she would be discovered before her plan was finalized. Unfair to Az perhaps, but caring too much about anything anymore seemed to take more energy than the princess had left.
She had continued on, walking through life and the palace like an animated corpse. Her support system, the three men, one especially, who had become closer to her than those who shared her blood were gone and she felt totally bereft without them. The words she had spoken to Az in pain and bitterness all those months ago, after watching from a high window as Cain rode away, had held true. She had not and would not forgive the Queen and her Consort for their high-handed meddling and the pain it had caused their youngest daughter.
As the elder princess and the one to hold the emerald during the double eclipse, their mother had really had no choice but to declare Azkadellia the heir apparent and next in line for the throne. That fact had freed DG from the worry of what would become of her sister after she was gone. When Az had protested the decision, DG had reminded her of the rhyme that had started the hunt for the emerald.
The majestic Queen of the OZ/Had two lovely daughters she/One to darkness she be drawn/And one to light she be shown. Double eclipse it is foreseen/Light meets dark in the stillness between/But only one and one alone/Shall hold the emerald and take the throne.
Az had objected, saying that as the daughter of darkness, she had no right to the throne. DG, in a rare moment of a compassion that used to come so easily to her, had quietly told her sister the truth that she herself had only recently realized.
"You aren't the daughter of darkness, Az, you never were." Confused, Az had questioned her meaning.
"What are you talking about, of course I am. I'm the one the Witch possessed and the one who did all those horrible things."
DG just smiled; a cheerless, ruthful expression. "And I was the one who heard the Witch calling from her cave, the one she originally went after." Az had looked up at her in shock, as realization began to dawn on her. "You're the daughter who was shown the light, Az, and I'm the one that was drawn to the darkness. The throne is yours by right and by birth." DG had left the newly crowned princess there, contemplating her new role in life as well as her old.
DG zipped closed the small bag she had secreted from her maid's quarters. Inside was an extra pair of pants and a shirt, both stolen from a male servant who worked in the palace, along with various other supplies. Standing before her mirror, dressed in the pants, shirt and jacket she had worn from the Other Side, clothes she had managed to hide from her mother and the seamstresses, with her eyes alive for the first time in more than a year – annual – whatever, she looked more like herself that she had in a long time. She had already sent the note to the desk in her mother's office, a small usage of her now mastered magic. It was simple and to the point: Don't look for me, I'm not coming back. –DG. With a last smile at her reflection, DG turned away and left the palace to summon a travel storm for the Other Side.
Lowering her arms, she waited until she could feel the awoken storm moving towards her, before she leaned down to collect her bag. A shout from somewhere behind her startled the princess out of her contemplation of the approaching storm and what it meant for her. DG paused and looked behind her, even as the travel storm twisted closer. Azkadellia was visible, standing on the balcony of her rooms. Even over the distance between them, DG could read the emotions in her sister's eyes; love, understanding, resignation, pain, acceptance. The Queen and Ahamo stood on the ground not far behind DG, staring at her in disbelief and confusion, and she was sure she saw anger flickering in her mother's lavender eyes. The Queen had felt the travel storm being awoken and she, her husband and their contingent of guards had gone outside to investigate. DG smiled at seeing them there; the first real smile in over an annual. She raised her chin and pitched her voice to be heard over the cyclone behind her.
"I won't be your prisoner any longer."
With that, she turned and throwing her arms wide in welcome, leapt into the travel storm, the feeling of it enveloping her the most reassuring she'd felt in a long time. Only a broken ex-Tin Man had ever made her feel safer.
- End -
A/N: Just a little one-shot that started rattling around in my head as I was (incessantly) reading other Tin Man fic. The idea of DG's parents trying to keep Cain from her, and how she would feel about that, got the creative juices flowing (finally!). Let me know if you want me to do a sequel, likely from Cain's POV.