A/N: Thanks to all of you who have read this so far. And a very special thanks to all who have reviewed. It means a lot to me!
I do not own Tin Man, sadly.. *tear*
"Well, turns out that Popsicle is bigger than you," She was sifting through her replacement fathers clothes drawers, pressing every now and then a shirt or a pair of pants up against Cain, a thoughtful look on her face, "I guess we're going shopping."
Cain lifted his brow up questioningly, not sure what to make of the Princess' sudden interest in what he was wearing.
"And how do you plan to get anywhere? We have no means of transportation," He stated, "You plan to walk?"
"No, we're taking my bike. It's behind the house." She walked back into the living room, through the kitchen and out the back door. She wasn't completely sure if her bike was still there, so she whispered a silent prayer that the evil cop let it be once she disappeared. She rounded the corner of her house to find, thankfully, her motorcycle surrounded by some wild bushes. Some of the plants looked as if they had tangled around the kickstand and the tires. She tore away the vines rapidly, looking at the motor and chain to see if any of the plants had crept their way into or around them. She saw none, so she stood up and swung her leg around, lifting her left and kicking the the clutch down two notches to put it in neutral. She pulled the choke and went to turn the key - surprised that the key was still there -, then pushed the small button on her handle bar, hoping it would start.
With a few questionable sputters, the engine roared to life, idling as DG kept it in neutral. She killed it again, not quite ready to leave. She turned around to see Cain standing on the porch.
"What is that thing?" He asked, still looking at the motorcycle.
"This is my bike," She patted the seat lovingly, "Isn't it beautiful?"
"That's not a bike, Princess, bike's don't have engines," Looking at her as if she had lost her mind, "And if you think I'm actually going to ride on that thing when it barely looks like it can hold you up.." He didn't finish the sentence, picturing the horrors of him being on that - that thing - holding on to DG for dear life only to end up falling off, or worse, have it fall apart under them before they had a chance to crash.
"Hey, don't let the raggidy suface fool you, it's tough! And it's convenient, so we're taking it, unless you have a better idea, Tin Man?" She said, knowing she was going to win this arguement. There's nothing else they can use.
"Fine," He said through his teeth, "But you're going to have a hell of a time explaining to your mother how your bodyguard died."
She laughed openly at him, "You're not going to die, Mr. Cain. Now, enjoy that old duster and hat while you can, because in a few hours, they're going to take up a permanent place in my closet."
She sat at the table on her porch for about an hour, reveling in the morning air and the wind that played with her hair, her eyes drifting closed as the breeze got slightly stronger. She sighed, remembering all the things that took place on this little farm. How she used to play in those fields when she was little, how she used to climb out of her bedroom window to sneak out and go to parties - she blushed as she remembered exactly what went on at some of those parties -, the many times she helped her substitute father fix that old mill many times. She might not have felt at home here, but she did enjoy the time she had spent, as if she was just on a very long vacation. She rose from her seat and went to explore her old room.
She didn't know where Cain was, and once she entered her room, she didn't care. She walked slowly, as if wanting to burn everything she saw here into her memory forever. She came across her sketches plastered on the wall, and stopped to stare at them. It was amazing that she could draw something so vividly, without having seeing them for fifteen years. She touched the drawing of her mother's eyes softly, just realizing how much she really missed her . She turned and flopped on her old bed, face first, and just layed there, letting her eyelids drift closed and sleep taking her.
Cain was walking through the downstairs part of DG's old house. It was small, but not nearly as small as his cabin back in the O.Z.. He went into the kitchen trying to find a bite to eat for both of them before they left, he looked into the fridge and found a bottle of something he wasn't familiar with. He shrugged and set it on the counter, looking back into the fridge. Nothing seemed edible, so he closed it with a sigh. Forgetting about the food, he wondered where DG went. Last time he saw her she was on the porch, so he looked for her there first, stopping short when he saw the table she was sitting at earlier out the window empty. He turned and headed up the stairs towards her old bedroom. He opened the door to find her sleeping soundly on the bed, legs and arms spread all over the place, all of her hair it seemed being on her face. The covers were thrown to the ground, she still has her shoes on, he chuckled low as he thought this, moving closer to the bed.
"How can you sleep like that?" He whispered as he pulled her shoes off, careful not to wake her up. He placed both of her legs in the middle of the small bed as well as her arms resting on her stomach. He then threw the covers back on her which caused her to turn to her side, startling him and causing him to hold his breath, thinking that he woke her up. Her breathing became even again, and he visibly relaxed, letting a small smile break over his lips as he set her shoes by the bed.
"Sleep well, Princess." He said, softly closing the door behind him as he exited the room.
Dg bolted upright in the small bed, almost falling off as she did so. She wandered around for her shoes, unaware how they were off in the first place.
"Crap! What time is it?" She said to no one in particular. She looked out her window to see the sun high in the sky staring back at her.
It's so odd to only see one, she mused, turning back towards the door to grab her shoes and started down the stairs to find Cain. She she slowed as she got to the bottom when she saw Cain on the couch, fast asleep - at least she thought he was - with his fedora covering his face. She does have to get him in some new clothes, but she wasn't so sure she should make him keep his hat off, it suited him so well, being a part of who he was, she couldn't really see a Cain without his hat on his head at all times.
She went to the kitchen quietly, seeing a bottle of apple juice on the counter. She read the expiration date before opening it, thankfully, because the bottle was about a year old.
"Have I really been gone a year?" She said softly, throwing the container in the trash can.
She heard a sound in the living room, walking back she was welcomed with a groggy Tin Man as he looked up at her from the couch.
"How was your nap?" He said tiredly, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
"Fantastic, and yours?" She replied, giving him a lovely smile.
"Could've been better, this couch is really stiff," He said as he got up, rubbing his back and returning her smile with a smirk, "The tin suit was more comfortable than that thing."
She began to laugh but stopped when she heard a horse galloping down the little dirt road that led to the house.
"Is that-" She said, excitement in her eyes, looking to Cain to confirm her hopes.
"I think so, but if not, he won't stay long," He answered, patting his gun, "Shall we?"
Without another word, they were out the door to meet the messenger.
He stopped at the entrance of the porch, stepping off of his horse with a thick looking leather file in his hands.
"Princess DG and Mr. Cain, a letter from the Queen and company," He bowed to DG before straightening again and handing Cain the papers, "She would like you to send a reply as soon as possible."
"And how do you expect us to send this reply?" Cain said, eyeing the messenger suspiciously.
"By me, of course, I will remain here until you are ready to send your reply." He said formally.
"Um, okay, well we have an extra room if you'd like to use it." DG said, ready to dismiss the messenger so she could read her mother and friend's letter's, but not wanting to be rude to the man.
"No need, Your Highness, I will remain here, I do not require sleep, so take your time." He replied shortly.
"Okay.." She said uncertainly, "Then we won't make you wait long. I don't care what you say, everyone needs sleep."
The messenger just stood there.
"Um, at ease?" She said, using the words used to make a person of a lower rank in the military to stand down.
He looked at her, confused, then Cain interjected to save the Princess.
"You can go tend to your horse now," He stated clearly, "We'll be out with the replies shortly."
DG heaved a sigh of relief, thankful that Cain knew what to tell him. She stared at the large file in his hands, waiting for him to turn it over to her.
"Let's go inside and look at these." He said, turning to go back inside.
She followed behind closely as he went to the couch he was napping in and dropped the folder on the coffee table.
DG took a deep breath as she opened the large file. She realized that what made up the size of the thing was mostly blank paper. The sleeves of the folder's contained the letter's, one sleeve holding letter's to DG, the other for Cain's letter's. There was three for Cain, five for herself. She took hers carefully, not wanting to mess up the neatness of them.
"Want some privacy, Princess?" Cain said, taking his own letter's in hand.
"Yeah," She said softly, "I'll go read them in my room. She was already on her way up the stairs as she finished the sentence.
She sat back in her bed and read her mother's letter first.
My dearest DG,
I am sorry for not telling you where you were headed, to further prepare you for I feel I did not. We need you to stay where you are for now until our next letter arrives, so you have time to rest, but not much. I must be brief, for I have a conference I must attend to with your father. We miss you dearly angel, we hope you made it to the Other Side safely, and I wish you the best of luck to you and Mr. Cain on your journey. I have also told your sister everything regarding your abrupt disappearance, as well as your two friends, Mr. Raw and Ambrose. Once again I wish you luck, and pray that you return home as quickly as possible.
I love you,
"Queen Lavender? Why so formal, mom?" She said to herself, kissing the letter and setting it aside. The next letter she read was from Ahamo, saying very much of the same things her mother had. She set his aside also, getting to Azkadellia's. The beginning was frantic, asking DG why she didn't come to her before she left. The Queen must have told Az what was going on in the middle of her writing this, because towards the end she was much more understanding and wishing her the best of luck to her and Cain. When she got to Glitch's, it started out as a normal, formal letter, saying that he was going to miss her while she was gone, how things in the palace were going, even talking about his upcoming surgery perfectly normal. She thought she was re-reading what she had already read when she was towards the middle, but quickly realized it was just Glitch repeating what he had already written. She had to smile at this, she was going to miss Glitch, once his brain is put back no one knows if he'll still have some Glitch in him, or if there would be too much Ambrose to take up space in his head. The last letter was from Raw, his being the easiest to read since he only used three to four word sentences. He said he was going on his own journey, back to where there were other's like him, his village, to make things right. Her heart swelled with pride at the courage he was showing by even going back there. She wrote down a couple of "I'm fine." and "I miss you too." along with other personal little notions on each letter she was sending back. She stacked all of the letters on top of each other and headed downstairs to Cain.
Cain had just finishing writing his son back when DG descended the stairs.
"So, what did the Queen say?" He asked as he put all of his letter's in his side pocket of the portfolio, standing up and reaching for hers as well.
"She said we have to stay here until she sends another letter," She said as she handed him the papers, "Anything new with Jeb?"
"Yeah, he's Azkadellia's personal bodyguard." He said. DG thought about this, and realized that Az said nothing about this in her letter. She went back into the folder and pulled out the one she wrote to her sister. She quickly scribbled an accusation at her sister, asking her why she didn't tell her about Jeb. She put the paper back in the folder snd closed it, fastening the clasp on the cover.
"Okay, so we stay here until they send a new messenger, in the mean time, we need food, and some new clothes for you," She announced, "Now, let's get rid of that messenger so I can take you shopping, Mr. Cain."
Cain paled at the thought of shopping with the Princess. Why am I the one with such rotten luck? He followed DG out the door to the messenger that was still tending to his horse.
"Here you go, sir, replies to all of the letter's. Now if you'll please excuse us, we have business to attend to." She put on her best royal face she could muster as she said this, ignoring Cain as he rolled his eyes.
"Yes, I will be back in due time, until then," He made a sweeping towards her, "Highness, Mr. Cain." He addressed to the two then saddled up his horse and took off down the dirt road, to deliver the messages.
"Okay, Tin Man, let's go," She said, "It's pretty late, so no ones really out and about, and the clothes store is probably about to close." She made her way to her bike, him following behind slowly.
"DG, I, uh, I'm not so sure about this." He said hesitantly as he sat behind DG and waited for her to start up the bike.
"Just trust me Cain," She said over the now roaring engine, "I'll get you there and back in one piece." She revved the engine, then, putting it in gear, she shot off, ignoring how tightly Cain was pressed up against her.
They went to the clothes shop first, DG getting a little over excited as she parked her bike and nearly drug Cain off of it. He stopped her and turned her around to put his hands on her shoulders, bowing his head down and taking deep breaths.
"Just gimme a minute, Princess," He said breathlessly, "I might be able to handle a lot of things, but that just threw me for a loop."
She chuckled at him, then realized they were in a public place, and he just called her Princess.
"Cain," She hissed, "Don't call me that here! What if someone hears you?" She said worriedly, looking in all directions to see if anyone nearby. No one. She sighed and pushed his shoulders, urging him to get up so they could go into the store before it closed.
She pulled him in eagerly, practically throwing him into the nearest dressing room, going to find some clothes for him to try on. She could hear his protests while she shopped, but wondered why he never exited the little room. She picked out some nice black button down shirts for him, and some black and tan slacks, even some jeans to try on with them. She pulled out a couple of confortable looking v-neck sweaters for herself, seeing as it was getting pretty chilly outside. The thought reminded her to get Cain a shorter jacket than his duster, so she moved to that section and picked out a dark leather one. She almost thought against the next thing she did, but figured if he was going to wear a hat, it was at least going to match. She went to the rack and sifted through many baseball caps and bonnets before she found exactly what she was looking for. She grabbed the black fedora and looked at the price on it. She then decided she needed to put her shirts back and his tan pair of slacks to afford it, she only had a couple of hundred dollars left over in savings, at least from what she had found at her house. She wasn't sure if her bank account was still opened, she would go and check tomorrow though.
She wallked back to the dressing rooms and tossed Cain the clothes he needed to try on over the door adn tossed the hat she picked out over completely.
"Seriously?" She heard him mutter, she didn't know if he was happy or not, so she waited to see the look on his face before she assumed what he thought.
"One question, kiddo," He asked as he walked out of the dressing room wearing the jeans and black button down, fitting the hat on his head as he stopped to stare at her, "How in the hell did you get all of my sizes right? They fit perfect, even the hat, though it feels different." He said, suddenly unbuttoning the second button of his shirt as he left his first undone.
She looked him up and down, satisfied with how he looked, and replied, "Wow, Tin Man, you clean up nice. and I don't know, I just picked what I thought would look best on you." She nodded in satisfaction and then looked to the young girl at the clerk and said, "Could we get these please? Do you want the other things I picked for you?" She asked Cain, now walking towards the room he just left to gather up the rest of the clothes.
"Yeah, a little variety never hurt anyone," He said with a smirk, "Do I have to take them off for us to buy them?" He asked, now taking his turn to look at the clerk. She blushed deeply before saying a soft no. She kept looking him up and down, over and over again.
And frankly, it pissed DG off.
"Ahem, the pants were thirty dollars each, the shirts twenty, and the hat fifty," she said irritably, glaring at the young girl. "Can you ring us up, please?"
The clerk quiclkly typed in the prices with her head down, not wanting to face the irritated DG.
"Your total is $215.67, cash or credit?" she asked quietly, still not making eye contact with either of them.
"Cash."DG answered curtly, pulling out a wad of bills and handing them to the cashier.
"Here's your change-"
"Keep it." DG said as she was pulling Cain towards the door.
"What was that all about?" He asked as they were crossing the street to the grocery store.
"Nothing," She said defensively, "She just started to piss me off."
He didn't say another word as they entered the store, looking awestruck at its size. There was nothing like this in the OZ. Though they did have food markets, he had never seen one this size.
She drug him down isle after isle, picking up random things to eat and drink. She kept it light, her bike could only hold so much. They made it to the register and DG dumped the contents onto the conveyer belt, walking briskly to the front to face the cashier, who was, of course, she thought irritably, female, and very much not trying to hide the fact that she was staring at Cain.
"Geez, it's like I'm invisible!" She said loudly to get the womans attention.
She turned slowly, looking DG hard in the face.
"Will that be all for you?" She said looking back to Cain, yes, Cain, not DG, the only thing she gave her was a look of evil. Probably an overstatement, but DG didn't think so. She'd been in the cashier's presence for a total of five seconds and the woman already hated her.
"Yes." DG answered, ignoring the glare and giving her the amount of money needed to pay for everything.
She grabbed the bags and headed for the door, not worrying about if Cain had followed her or not and ignoring the sweet ''come again" she heard behind her.
He had to practically run to keep up with her, why was she walking so fast? She reached the bike and put the groceries in the side pockets. She sat down and waited for Cain to catch up. She brought the bike to life before he could question what was wrong with her, because she had no answer to that question. She only knew that it irritated the hell out of her to see those women stare at him like that, with that glow in their eyes. It made her mad. It made her want to scream! But she didn't know why. Because he's my friend and I don't want anybody looking at him like he's a piece of meat, she told herself, but not entirely convinced.
Once they arrived back at the house, she grabbed the groceries and ran up the stairs to put them up. She ws acting like a jealous child, that she knew, but she didn't care. She went to open the fridge only to be stopped by a hand on hers.
"You mind tellin' me what the problem is, kiddo?" He said as he gently removed her hand from the handle of the fridge still holding it in his.
"I'm not a kid," She grumbled, "And it was nothing, I just forgot how annoying this stupid town could be." She turned to grab something, but he pulled her back.
"I'm not letting go until you give me an answer." He said stepping closer as he did so.
She took an involuntary breath, taking in his scent as she did. He smells so good, she thought, getting unknowingly closer, until they were only a breath's distance away.
His breath seemed to hitch as she got closer to him, his grip tightening slightly on her hand, somehow snapping her out of her trance.
She opened her eyes, staring straight into his. They were still very close, so she only had to whisper her answer.
"Well, I guess you're going to be holding my hand for a very long time." She said, then stepped away from him and started towards her room.
Once she was gone, he took off his new hat and ran a hand through his hair.
Damnit, he thought, I need a shower.
A/N: Finally done! This chapter is a little longer than what I am used to writing, but I couldn't find a place to stop.
Thanks again for reading, and please review! It does my heart good when you do. :D