A/N: I fail at updating. I'm too lazy sometimes, but this has to be done. This one's kinda short…

Many thanks to: Suki90, WolfspiritSD, eXtraNIo, DMK—and to everyone who reads/favorites/alerts!

Special thanks to: AmAnOTAKU11 for helping me provide some ideas for this!

Ideas/prompts/suggestions are always welcome, I'd like to know what readers think, after all.

Chain and Her Contractor
3: Choice

Sometimes Alice dreamed of strange things.

Maybe because of stress, she thought. She, Oz and Gilbert were given many jobs lately with barely any time to rest. Missions after missions were issued from Pandora, and they had to leave as soon as they arrived—calling it tiring would be an understatement.

These days, they slept in the carriage. It was uncomfortable sleeping while sitting, so Alice would claim as much space as she could in her seat with Oz, and curled up with her head on Oz's lap.

In these little sleeping periods she dreamed.

In the Abyss Alice rarely ever dreamed. Her sleep was always filled with deep blackness, never the colorful splash of a dream. When she finally escaped, though, it was a different story.

The first time she dreamed, she had panicked.

"Oz! I was sleeping, just sleeping, there," Alice pointed to the couch, a mix of excitement and worry in her expression, "and I saw stuff in my sleep!"

Her Contractor only laughed and ruffled her head the way she liked it (he had heard from Gil that Alice was acting funny after he petted her head, turned out that it was because she liked the gesture). "That's called dreaming, Alice. It's normal, so don't worry. What did you see?"

"Meat." She began to drool. "Lots of meat. There was this huuuge one, on a huuuge plate, a super tender pork meat that was so yummy."

After that, she began to welcome the dreams, especially the ones involving meat. But as days passed by, they grew more bizarre. Lately, she'd been dreaming of things she mostly couldn't recall—but Alice remembered the warmth and comfort that it brought, and a flash of flaxen hair.

Long flaxen hair.

Alice rested her head on Oz's lap, staring at Gilbert. The black-clad man stared back with a strange expression.

"What, Seaweed Head?" she sneered. "You wanna sleep on Oz's lap too?"

"Wh-what? What makes you think that, you stupid rabbit?"

She proceeded to ignore him. "Too bad, but this is mine!"

"Why you—!"

"Stop it, you two…" Oz sighed tiredly. Their latest mission involved yet another illegal contractor, but he was tougher than the others—or was it because they were too worn out?

"She started it." Gil sulkily mumbled. Alice stuck out her tongue before burying her face into Oz's shorts, quickly falling asleep.

This time, she dreamed of an elaborately decorated room with checkered floor and a round table covered by a frilly white tablecloth. All around her, dolls chattered and giggled. Alice smiled a smile that wasn't hers and spoke with a voice eerily similar to her own. A man with dark hair and clad in equally dark clothes—except for the bandages that covered one eye—purred as she stroked his hair.

"It's tea time~!" she sang, giggling. When she looked at herself, she wasn't wearing her usual white and red coat, or her black skirt. She wore a garment similar to that, but it was pure white and shining and with more laces and ribbons and flowers. Her feet were bare too, and she missed the warmth her boots offered.

"Tea time, tea time," the dolls chorused, and burst into a fit of giggles in unison.

"But… we're missing someone." Her voice turned melancholic all of a sudden. "We can't start if… if Jack doesn't come. Hey… he can't be dead, right? No, right? He promised me he'll take me outside, to pick roses…"

Jack. The name was not foreign to her. Alice remembered her hazy dreams of the man with the more mature Oz-like face. Did she dream of him because the Will of the Abyss wanted so badly to see him again, and her desire was channeled?

"Jack…" she heard herself say, and her eyes fluttered open.

Emerald eyes stared back. She broke eye contact with Oz and looked around—the familiar pastel-walled room greeted her. They were back at the Rainsworth mansion.

"What did you dream of, Alice…?" She heard Oz ask,

"Of… the Will of the Abyss, and her tea party. Like the one the Clown told us."

But then why did you say Jack's name? He wanted to ask her, but held it in. Was he jealous? Of a dead man? It was absurd, but too true.

"She was still waiting for Jack." Alice continued, seemingly oblivious to his 'inner turmoil'. "It's kind of sad."

Oz was silent after she said that. The girl looked up, and saw that his eyes were hazy in a daydream.

So she hit him.

"Stupid manservant! Listen to me when I talk!"

That night, it was hard for Alice to sleep. She kept on tossing and turning on her warm, large bed but the comfortable darkness just wouldn't come. Frustrated, she slammed the large wooden doors open and marched to Oz's room.

Alice blinked as she peeked from the small gap of the door. Oz was quietly sleeping, the blanket pulled to cover his shoulders. His chest rose while he breathed, a peaceful expression etched on his face. He didn't look like he would wake up anytime soon. Grinning, Alice slipped in and snuggled against him under the covers, watching him closely.

Oz's warmth was comforting. It was proof that he was there, with her. Her thoughts briefly flitted to the Will of the Abyss, waiting for Jack forever, then to her, waiting for the contractor that was meant to help her escape. Then she met Oz.

It was painful, waiting for years and years. She imagined how her 'twin' felt, and groped for Oz's hand. If she had to wait for an unknown amount of time for Oz again, Alice didn't think she could ever stand it.

It was almost as if she was in the Abyss again.

It was all black and yet she could see, and the ground rippled and splashed like water when she walked.

And then there was a warm, inviting glow, and she followed it.

Someone was waiting for her.

Jack's gentle smiling face surprised her. He seemed at ease, just standing there in his green-golden coat, wordlessly extending a hand.

Behind him was Oz. He looked oddly insecure, without the goofy smile she'd grown so accustomed to. Unlike Jack, he didn't hold out a hand for her, and Alice felt a little hurt. He cared for her, right? So why didn't he welcome her?

It was… it was like he expected her to take Jack's hand.

"Alice…?" Jack spoke, earnestly gazing at her. But she found herself running to Oz.

"Oz," she stared at him, and his startled expression, and uncharacteristic worry filled her. "You okay?"

He nodded mutely. Alice turned around and smiled confidently to Jack. "Jack… sorry, but it's the Will of the Abyss that's waiting for you. Not me." Then she grabbed Oz's wrist and shook it. "And it's Oz that needs me."

At that, Oz cracked a smile.

Jack's expression didn't falter, but he did retract his hand.


"Good morning, Alice."

"Mm…" she groggily rubbed her eyes with her free hand. Alice vaguely noticed that her other hand was still clutching Oz's.

"Did you have another dream?" The blond wore a sunny smile when he asked.

Alice nodded vigorously. "Yeah, I did. And it was the weirdest thing too."

"Hm, you can tell me about it over breakfast."

Oz got out of the bed and stretched, and when she didn't budge even after he was at the door, he looked back.

"Alice? Are you coming?"

"Hey, Oz… you know that I'll stick with you, no matter what, right?"

The bright smile slipped, and his eyes widened slightly. But then a wide grin replaced the smile.

"Of course!"