Hehe, I guess I should warn you there's a spoiler in here. Chapter...41? I believe. Maybe 42.
He often wondered what went on in his companions heads. He often wondered how much time was left. If contractors were pulled down when the seal was done its round, how much longer? If they were pulled to the deepest and darkest part of Abyss, and turned into chains after, did that mean one gave up being who they were when they signed the contract? Did they hand over their very being to their chain? Questions that needed answers often never got them them until the last possible second, and he hated it. He wanted answers immediately. He wanted to know things, to not be that lost child in the middle of it wondering where to go.
He wondered just how far he could go before he broke.
Before he was gone.
Before they were all gone.
"Hey, seaweed head. I want meat."
"Get your own, stupid rabbit."
"Fine. I'll just go steal it."
"Not falling for it."
"Eh!? Are you trying to imply I'm lying!?"
"Hey, cut it out you two. Gil, give me money. Alice, come with me." Oz intervened with a sigh, finding their argument too be to distracting from his book. Today was one of those days where nothing interesting was happening. Even Break coming in through the cupboard would be welcome. Pandora had no assignments for them, and there were no celebrations or festivals going on any time soon. Going to the market was a welcome distraction.
"Why isn't the seaweed head coming?"
"Would you prefer he did?"
A small smirk came to his face at seeing the girls' taken aback expression, before she flushed and growled and a 'no.' She grabbed her jacket, which she had yet to put on, and stormed out the door yelling impatiently a "you coming?" over her shoulder.
Oz sighed and looked up at Gil a smile gracing his features. Gil raised an eyebrow in question, and Oz grinned widely. He knew exactly what Gil was asking.
"It's okay. I'm not going to propose to her. I'm just getting her meat and having a very serious conversation with her."
"I had one with you...so, it's her turn. Don't worry, I'll be sure to not be emo when we get back!"
"...Oz--" Gil tried while handing over the money, but a certain stupid rabbit cut him off.
"OZ! HURRY UP!"
"Bye, Gil!" Oz waved over his shoulder while running out, making a mental note to thank Alice later for her great timing. Gil sighed. Sometimes...just sometimes...he wished he could have a day in Oz's head. That boy thought about too many things, half of which boys his age shouldn't even be thinking about.
"Oz...are we lost?" They'd been out for a good half hour, with no avail at finding the meat shop. Neither were tired, but Alice was getting annoyed at walking around with no food. She just wanted her meat, dammit! Maybe if the seaweed head had came...No. The seaweed head would've probably just gotten them even more lost.
"No. It's this way, I promise." he replied. In reality, he had purposely taken a longer route so he had more time to talk, but he found that he was using the time getting there to think of ways to bring up the conversation and thinking of how it would go. He heard Alice grumble in the back about how he was lucky he was her manservant so she wouldn't kill him. He couldn't help but smile at that. He hadn't failed to notice she used the "manservant" excuse to get out of most things.
A few minutes later, he stopped and turned around, spreading his arms out wide, "Ta-da! Told you I'd get you there."
"Oz....I love you so much right now!" She said running past him, not caring if that wasn't how she usually acted or how it sounded (she was just grateful she finally got her meat), and dragging him in by the arm. She immediately slammed her fist against the counter and nearly yelled, "MEAT!" The store owner raised an eyebrow slightly, but shrugged and gave them what they could afford.
Oz eventually led them to a clearing that seemed lost and forgotten. Alice didn't care, though. She had her meat so she was happy. She didn't notice the fact that there was no one around. She didn't notice that they had left the city's perimeters. She didn't notice the gravestones off to the side in front of a tree. She didn't notice Oz knew exactly how to get there. She didn't notice the nearby ditch. No, she only noticed her meat and that Oz sat closer to her than he usually did.
They sat there for awhile, simply looking at the river making its endless journey to the sea. There wasn't any sound except for the rushing water and a few grunts from Alice as she bit into her next set of meat. Oz stared at the water, finding that it was a lot like his situation. It kept going forward like him because it wanted to have an end to all of it, just like Oz wanted the truth. He found himself soon lost in his thoughts while waiting for Alice to finish eating.
He laughed at the fact that this had all started with a clock, and now he had one tattooed to his chest. He found it interesting. Some clocks went tick, tock while others simply went tick, tick, not giving that extra second of sound as the tick tock did. If he were to change that around, it'd be the same as asking if he would have that extra second of life when the seal finished it's round. When it hit twelve. He laughed at the irony of it all. He had never believed that whole thing where twelve was the worst possible time, where it was where everything bad would happen. He'd always thought of that as superstition, yet here was, waiting for it to hit twelve.
"She's my benefactor...!"
And the death of me.
Despite that fact, he couldn't hate her. He couldn't hate her because she was everything he needed. She always cheered him up, always did what he could never do. She'd speak her mind. She kept going as if it was nothing when her very twin rejected her. She wasn't afraid of dying. She wasn't afraid to hand over her life in exchange for his. Gil was the same. Ready to hand his life over for him. But, why? He didn't deserve it. He was just a selfish brat. It didn't make sense to him. He understood they were his best friends, and he understood best friends looked out for each other...but to give a life...? He just simply wasn't worth that much. Never was, never will be.
Oz stared on, watching the water go on. On and on and on.... Slowly he became aware of the slight pressure on his cheek. It started to increase slowly. He frowned slightly. He was sure he wasn't biting himself. It increased more, and he finally tried to jerk away, but it only caused the pressure to increase even more. Then he laughed and the pressure was removed. Alice.
"I'm fine, Alice. Don't worry."
"Oz...you were depressed. You had that look. What's wrong?"
Oz looked up in surprise. Even though she still wasn't done eating, she'd noticed his mood swing. He thought he'd snap out of it by the time she finished but he was wrong. He smiled. That was Alice. Perfectly capable of cheering him up and surprising him when he least expected it.
"I was just thinking about Jack and Sabrie," he lied. It was what he wanted to get at, though, so he thought she'd forgive him if she ever found it out. She did look sceptical, though. He put on a bright smile, hoping it'd distract her.
"Oz. What's going on?" she looked serious. She'd even pushed her meat aside to look at him straight in the eyes. He hated when she was like that. Serious beyond belief. Not caring about anything other than getting a straight answer. Reserved and solemn. Not the Alice he knew. Not the Alice he wanted. All he could think about was that he did this to her.
"I...I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get you worried. It's nothing, really."
"Oz." her gaze intensified, her voice subtly threatening. He turned away, bringing one leg up, dangling an arm off his knee while letting the other stretch out, his other arm supporting him. He tilted his head back slightly, and he let out a smile. She knew how to look through everything. He guessed her animal instincts told her when someone was upset or bothered. Or maybe that was simply who Alice was. He'd never know.
"Alice...why are you willing to give your life for me?"
The girl rocked back in surprise. Why, indeed? She'd never thought of it before. She just knew he was her manservant and as such, she had to protect him, even if the cost was her life. That was a masters job. Just as Oz would give his life for the seaweed head, she would give her life for his. She was a chain anyways, so she'd just end up back where she started. Oz on the other hand...she didn't know where he'd go if he died, but she doubted it would be some place nice.
"Because you're my manservant! It's not right to let you die if I can do something about it when..." she looked down, her voice suddenly falling lower, "when you've done so much for me and I've done nothing in return." She sat down on her knees, her hands becoming of great interest.
"...Alice?" he sounded surprised. Like he'd never thought of her having those kind of thoughts herself. He looked over at her fidgeting form, and smiled. Alice was quite interesting in terms of how her mind worked. She was determined to do everything that she sets out to do. If it got in the way, especially concerning him, she'd let her fear go. She'd push it back just for his sake. He moved onto his own knees and picked up her gloved hands. She looked up surprised, and he smiled reassuringly.
"Don't think like that. You give a lot in return."
"W-what?" She looked shocked at the revelation. Did she really think she was that useless?
"You protect me, right? And you can cheer me up when Gil can't. You can make me laugh or smile even when I don't want to, and that is something that's worth almost as much as seeing you smile."
"Oz..." the girl looked up from behind her bangs, looking like she just heard the the thing she's always wanted to hear. Before the murderous glint came into her eyes and a foot found his face, "THAT IS NOT HOW YOU TALK TO YOUR MASTER!"
The boy laughed after getting over the initial shock of the attack. He rubbed his head where she'd kicked him and put on a bright smile, "See?" He heard a growl and quickly got the idea.
"I wanted to know..." he started, debating whether to risk losing the conversation and continue on with mock-flirting or to get on with the topic, "...if you'd be willing to...tell me everything that happened at Sabrié.
"..." she looked away from him, off at the river and stared. "You already know all of it. I saw Jack and learned the gravestone was Lacie's."
Alice nodded. "I guess because I spent most of my time with Jack when I was alive, my memories don't hold any significance to what's currently happening, like yours did." she paused for a second, considering just how important Oz's memory was. It helped with figuring out the reason for what happened one hundred years ago. It showed who Glen Baskerville was. It was important on many different levels. "I felt you using B-Rabbit's power so I couldn't..."
Couldn't what? Sit there and watch Jack longer? Watch herself? Nothing productive. Nothing helpful. She shook her head. "Couldn't see if there was anything important going on," she replied, not bothering to show what she really thought. It wasn't the right way to act in front of her manservant.
"I see." Oz sighed and laid down so his head was on Alice's lap, a random piece of wheat that came from seemingly nowhere in his grinning mouth. Alice froze completely, half in shock and half in anger, ready to punch or punt the boy off her at any given second. That grin...it...just...really made her want to shove him off. Using his master like a pillow! It was supposed to be the other way around! She was about to throw him off, but he cut her off. She figured it would be best to hear him out, then punt him.
"You said you couldn't touch Jack...so that made him a memory instead of a soul fragment, right? If I turned that around...does that mean you have a piece of Glen's soul in your memory, too? He could touch me, and talk to me. He probably could've killed me, too. Alice...if I have Jack in me, do think you could have Glen?"
She frowned slightly. If it was her memory in the first place, and not Jack's...she shook her head, "N-no. I'd have to have some sort of connection with him...and the only possible one would be he's my...dad." her revelation came as a shock to her. No...he couldn't be...could he? The only thing they had in common was...their eye colour...and even that wasn't that great. Then again...they did look somewhat similar if Oz's description had been correct (which she didn't doubt, but her manservant was known for jesting).
"Well...if...he had a thing going on with Lacie..." Oz gave a smirk.
"Oz..." her voice became dangerously low and threatening.
"Does Alice not want to know who her parents are?"
She did. She did a lot. But if the man who was her father was the same man who locked her up in the tower, she didn't want to know who her parents were. She was scared to learn if the very beings that gave her life were the same people who shoved her away, forgotten. Well, maybe not forgotten. She had been a human. She needed to eat. And drink. Someone had to bring that to her, and she doubted it was Jack. She knew she'd told that Duke Barma guy that she'd leave fears on the roadside where she found them but...she just wouldn't of been able to handle it. Not now.
Plus,other than in name only, they wouldn't of been her parents. Parents don't leave their child to whatever tortures went on in being locked up. They wouldn't kill every human contact with it. They wouldn't leave them and let them think everyone hated them. Wouldn't let them think they were alone.
"Get off. I'm feeling generous today."
"Oz...off." She crossed her arms firmly over her chest, glaring down in such a way that if looks could kill, Oz would've been mutilated to the point where no one, not even Gilbert, would've been able to determine who he was. Or if he was a he at all. He smiled faintly at the mental thought and slid off.
"We should get going back. The seaweed head might get worried." She stood up briskly and started walking off. Realizing Oz wasn't coming, she spun on her heel, her arms still crossed, and gave him the same look she gave him at the opera house. He didn't notice her for a while, but when he did his finally took notice of what she had said.
"I knew you cared about Gil!" Oz said, flashing another smile. She gave a deeper growl that could easily imitate an irritated tiger.
"Alice is depressed." Oz stated. He said it in a flat tone, leaving no room for argument. Alice, of course, didn't get it. Besides, she was the master and he had no right to talk to his master like that.
"I'm not. Now c'mon. Now Oz." she strode to him seething, and had it been anyone else they would've easily been scared half to death. Grabbing him by the collar of his shirt, she gave a sharp jerk and threw him forward. He stumbled for the first few steps, grabbing hold of Alice's arm to steady himself. Unfortunately, the girl wasn't prepared for the pull and got dragged along with him to the ground.
Stubborn as she was, Alice tried to fight gravity. It didn't take much to know which of the two forces won that battle. The two rolled around for a few seconds, Oz trying desperately to stop both of them to the best of his abilities when all he saw was flailing limbs and "OZ!!" right in his ear. When he finally did get them to stop he wasn't all too thrilled with how they landed. To any passerby, it'd look very suggestive.
Somehow Alice had ended up underneath him, her arms wrapped around him still from the fight for dear life. Oz had his hands on either side of her head, nearly laying right on top of her. They were a little too close for comfort.
"O-Oz..." came a shaky voice, "We're alive...?" He gave a small nod in affirmation. He realized she had her eyes shut though, and couldn't see it. "Y-yeah, we are." he was surprised to hear his voice be just as shaky. Slowly, one eye opened, then the other. Then they both narrowed into a ferocious glare.
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING PULLING ME DOWN LIKE THAT!? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT COULD'VE HAPPENED?!"
"Alice--!" he tried to cut her off. If anyone came by....
"---I COULD'VE DIED! WE BOTH COULD'VE DIED--"|
"...THEN A GIANT WOLF WOULD COME AND EAT US AND--"
He leaned down the extra couple centimetres and clamped his mouth over hers to shut her up. She still yelled for a couple seconds before realizing what he was doing. Alice struggled a few more seconds than necessary before giving in. She wasn't sure why, and she'd never let him know that she liked it, but it felt right to her, despite the reasons for it. Oz was surprised when she returned the 'kiss' but neither was he going to complain. He pulled away, with his lungs screaming for air, and got off of her. Alice however, lay there still dazed by what just happened.
"S-sorry. I didn't..." he tried.
"What the hell was that?" she asked, getting up into a sitting position.
"Y-you were screaming and if someone came by..." Oz trailed off, seeing her gaze. Of course. No one would be coming by here. They were by the city's outskirts, and while this may be the capital, not many people would be out in this part, and if they were, they wouldn't care about some adolescent girls screams. They would think it was just a young couple going out for some fun. He blushed at the thought.
"I thought..." she frowned and cocked her head to the side curiously, "Is that what boys do to make girls energetic? Like how I bite your cheek?"
"N-no! Well, yes but that's not what I was trying to do!" Oh boy...how the heck was going to explain this to the naive chain? Without getting into detail?
Needless to say, the walk back home was filled with questions and curious glances, especially when she brought the topic of "but you were on top of me and--" with his hand cutting off the conversation. Sad part was, everyone remembered them from the whole arm wresting incident. The fact that the homicide and the one who was capable of rendering people useless with a few words were walking together talking about one being on top of the other easily scared the townsfolk. Especially if there was an offspring in the question....
Oz just hoped he didn't have to explain anything to Gil.
This story wrote itself. I swear I had nothing to do with it becoming mildly perverted.
Now you'll have to excuse me as I run for my life. Alice is not very fond of me for writing this.
Please review if you'll be so kind ^_^