"You know, kiddo, there are some things in life that are just out of our control, but we need you." Wyatt Cain grabbed DG's shoulders and as soon as their blue eyes connected the, 'I need you' rang silently. If this startled him, he didn't let on. "You gotta let it go." He wished there was more he could say, but they were short on time. "Come on." He gently shoved her towards the door.
DG tried to collect herself as she went out; he was right, she needed to let the past go and focus on the here and now. She thought it was slightly ironic that the man who was so bent on avenging his family would tell her this, but it was a completely different matter. None of her family had been killed.
As she walked out, he suddenly spotted a small wooden horse. Wary happiness and guilt coursed through him, but nothing penetrated his mask but a glimmer of hope. "Where did you get this?" he questioned.
"You should go," Ralph warned.
"Where did you get this?" he asked again, taking out an identical figure.
Looking at the other aged horse, he answered, "A resistance fighter made it for my son. He came through a few months back with his mother; I think their names-"
"Jeb and Adora. My family. They really are alive?" The hope he had refused to let surface when Zero taunted him before he shot him threatened to boil over. Putting the newer horse down, he put his away before exiting the cabin. As soon as he spotted DG, dread followed immediately by guilt took over.
When he first got out of the suit, all he wanted to do was avenge his family. If he died somewhere in between, he didn't care. It was DG who made him care enough to go back for her in Central City, his promise to the Mystic Man reinforced what he had already unconsciously set out to do. A Tin Man by heart, it was in his instincts to help others; the fact that the maiden in distress was easy on the eyes, braver than most men he had ever worked with, and had a sharp wit didn't cross his mind. When Zero told him his family was alive, elation and disbelief were all he felt, right before the pressure of the bullet on his chest and the bruising pain on his back when he crashed out the window and through a sheet of ice.
He didn't know how he found the strength to get out of the water, for he knew he had been in there long enough to allow the Witch and her cronies to leave. He's sure part of the reason was because of the speck of hope he had just received, but as soon as he was conscious again, right after weakly aiming his gun at Glitch, all he could think about was DG, and once he found out she'd been captured, all he could think about was getting her out. His family had barely crossed his mind, whether it was because he had denied himself to hope or because there was a tiny part of him that hoped they were at peace, he wasn't sure.
DG looked at him, puzzled. What was wrong with the usually stoic Tin Man? He looked…conflicted.
He was so lost in his thoughts that, by the time he came to, they'd already passed the Crack and were near the white elm Ralph had told him about. He vaguely heard himself exclaim, "There. That's it. That's where my family made their new home." Joy and a sense of trepidation were his escorts as he rushed towards the tree.
"I really don't think there's time for this," Tutor advised.
He was too busy with his running emotions to aim his gun, but he'd distinctly heard DG come to his defense, "He's always made time for us," and her footsteps followed close behind him. As he passed the tree, he started shouting his wife's name, calling her out, wondering if she'd recognize his voice and reminding himself that his wife was alive, even if he had thought she and his son were dead for many annuals.
DG's mind was a whirlwind of thoughts as she ran after him. His family might be…? Hope and envy stabbed her at once.
Cain slowed down as he spotted an iron suit. Rain suddenly started, matching his mood as he opened it. "Jeb." He heard his companions join him and they stopped just as he saw a wooden marker. Approaching it, he took off his hat, and knelt down.
Engraved was the name 'Adora Cain.'
Touching the maker, he did his best to hold in his tears; it was like losing her all over again. However, this time, there were no sharp wounds, no stabbing pains from within; the pain had dulled a long time ago. Taking his tin star out, he placed it under the marker, that small gesture meaning more than he cared to analyze at the moment. He heard DG approach and turned his face away.
DG put a hand on his shoulder in comfort, a few tears escaping for a man she had only known for a few days, but had lost so much more than she ever had. A man who, despite the short time they'd known each other, she felt more for than anyone in the life she remembered. Removing her hand, she observed as he kissed the marker before standing up. Guilt shot through her. Everything she had been feeling for this good, brave Tin Man was tainted by these feelings she didn't care to name.
They walked some more until Cain, to everyone but DG's astonishment, declared they rest near a river. He sat away from everyone to no one's surprise.
Raw gathered up his courage and approached him. "Your son, Jeb, still lives."
"No," Cain denied. It's not that he wished his son were dead, but if what he thought truly happened, whoever they might find in his son's skin wouldn't really be his son, no matter how much he hoped. He wasn't ready to face a stranger wearing his son's changed, grown-up face.
"He lives to honor you. I feel it."
Cain got up. "You feel too much."
A way's away, DG observed him through sad eyes.
He felt too much. Sorrow, hope, joy, and guilt were just a thousandth of what he felt and it wasn't something he was accustomed to. "Come on, let's get a move on." He didn't want Raw feeling that the real reason he didn't want to think that his son was still alive somewhere was because he feared how the encounter would go. Sure, there'd be elation, but what would his son say when he figured out he had unexpectedly fallen for the youngest Princess of the O.Z.?
No One Ever Expects the Unexpected.