Disclaimer; I do not own Pandora Hearts or its wonderful array of characters.
"What a big tree that is…" Oz mused aloud, his verdant irises locked on the structure outside. It surely was an impressive sight. The green foliage seemed glorious and bright, reaching a height that nearly touched the sky.
The tree seemed so vibrant and alive… it certainly stood out in its rather dismal surroundings.
The day was abysmal and overcast with a thick blanket of clouds. It had swallowed all light in its dreary shroud, casting a gray darkness all throughout its surroundings.
But Oz did not lay on his bed and ponder the high chances of a rainfall. He preferred to keep his thoughts lighter and concentrate on the positives that were in his life. The only positive thing he could currently gather was the tree.
"I wonder what it would be like to climb it? The view must be fantastic…"
He released a low cough, sinking into his plush bed coverings and drowning himself in his thoughts.
A ragged sigh escaped from his lips when he noticed it was far too quiet in the mansion of Rainsworth. He wanted noise, sound, or some denotations of life. He didn't like the thought of being alone, especially in his current condition.
'Maybe some sleep will help take my mind off things…' he thought, his lids slowly falling over his eyes.
"GET OUT MY WAY, SEAWEED HEAD!" a familiar female voice exclaimed from outside his door. Oz slowly rustled from his bed, staring curiously at the doorway. Thinking he was just hearing things, Oz closed his eyes again in an attempt to sleep.
"Stop it right now, you stupid rabbit! Don't go in there!" a voice – Gilbert, Oz assumed – yelled. Footsteps stampeded from outside his door, adding to the conglomerating dissonance of a struggle.
He wasn't quite sure what he should do and waited quite patiently for further development.
Apparently, his wonderings were finally rewarded when his door flew wide open, introducing a certain girl with a bright, red coat.
"Oz, I order you to get me meat! I'm hungry!" cried Alice as she stomped towards his bedside with a pouty look on her face.
Gilbert stormed right behind her, scolding, "You demonic rabbit! How many times do I have to tell you can't disturb him? He can't get you any food."
She merely scoffed. "Tch. He looks alright to me. There is no excuse for his lazing about when his mistress is hungry."
Before Oz could speak and assuage her, Gilbert exclaimed, "Are you blind? Oz is sick! He has a fever! You can't order him around while he's in his current disposition."
She blinked in curiosity, observing his countenance with meticulous scrutiny. She slapped her gloved hand onto his forehead.
"... Well I suppose he is rather warm," she admitted begrudgingly, "But that is no excuse for ignoring me for such a long time! It feels as like I haven't seen him in ages!"
Oz meekly smiled, scratching his head in embarrassment. He did have to admit that little fact was true. After the headhunter incident, he usually penned himself up in his room, feeling very much unwell. He, at first, thought it was the common cold. Then he found himself stricken with a terrible fever.
Gilbert then retorted, "Well it's not Oz's fault he's been so ill. He needs his rest... and your noisy presence is not helping. Get out now!"
As Alice cried in protest, as well as several other unprintable words, Gilbert had successfully thrown her out the door and swiftly slammed it right in her face.
"Crazy Chain..." he murmured crossly under his breath before turning his gaze towards Oz, who stared at him with evident confusion in his eyes. "Sorry for intruding and making so much noise, Oz. I know you're not well, but it was all because that rabbit was so persistent!"
Gilbert explained that Alice had attempted exactly four times to enter his room. After the first two attempts, she was fairly content, resigning herself to other activities. The third time tested his patience for she tried to get passed him to open the door.
'Hence 'Get out of my way, seaweed.''
The fourth time was when she became especially clever, maneuvering around him and making a mad dash through the door.
'Again 'You can't go through there!''
The dark-haired servant murmured ominously, "That stupid rabbit... Testing my patience. When I told her you're unwell, she refused to listen. She's so lucky I wasn't tempted to take out my gun..."
"Why was Alice trying so hard to get in here?" inquired the Vessalius.
"Who knows, and I don't care. I don't want her disturbing you when you are in this condition..." Gilbert shrugged his shoulders, studying the young boy with worried eyes. "How are you feeling?"
"A little better," Oz replied with a low cough. "I suppose with a little more rest, I'll be back to my normal self."
Gilbert sighed in relief, treading closer to the window. "Rather dismal outside, isn't it?"
"Is it going to rain today?"
"I heard a heavy downpour. You certainly are going to stay inside. I don't want you getting any more sick."
The young boy nodded his head. 'Wasn't really planning on it.'
"Oz?" Both figures froze at the sound of the blonde master's name. Gilbert swiftly concealed himself behind the door. Oz sighed and called for the figure to enter. A dramatic swing of the door revealed a dark-haired girl, demanding, "Oz! Are you done lying there all day? You can't ignore your mistress any longer!"
Before he could reply, Gilbert appeared from behind her, capturing her by her waist. "Got you!"
"Seaweed head, let me go!" she said with a violent thrash of her person. "Oz, I order you to order him to let go of me!"
Gilbert retorted as he edged towards the door's entrance, "Oz needs his rest! He doesn't need you here! Tell her, Oz!"
"No! Manservant, tell him!"
Both figures stood in expectant silence, waiting for Oz to respond. He glanced back and forth between the two, trying to decide how he could appease both parties. A sigh rushed from his lips when he realized that there was no around it. One of them will certainly be disappointed in the end.
"Well," Oz began very slowly. Both of their eyes widened, waiting in fervent anticipation. "…Sorry, Alice, but I'm really not well right now. It's best you go right now. I promise to see you after I'm a little better, alright?"
Gilbert's lips curved to a smug smile. Oz expected Alice to whine, throw a little tantrum at the fact that Oz had sided with Gilbert instead of his mistress. He then remembered that the Chain was unpredictable. There was no guessing what Alice would do.
This moment was no exception.
This Alice was a girl he was unfamiliar with. She lacked her vivacity, her loudness, her brusque and curt attitude. In fact, this Alice seemed to lack all emotion. All she did was stare at him with wide, violet eyes. It was as if Oz had struck her, stabbed her heart with a dull knife, and all life escaped her.
"Hmph!" She swiftly recovered herself, brushing Gilbert away with curt flick of her arms. "Like I wanted to be near you anyway! I don't need you. You stay cooped up here forever for all I care!"
The blonde merely gawked at her. A scowl contorted her lips, her eyes narrowed into a heated glower. Alice then stormed out of the door, leaving both men in a daze.
"What was her problem?" The Nightray wondered in confusion
Oz did not offer any reply. He merely turned his head towards the window, trying to dismiss the heaviness in her chest, the burning tightness in his throat.
'There's no reason for this feeling,' he told himself, concentrating on the shapes outside the glass. 'Positives. Think of the positives.'
But Oz found himself unable to find any in the outside world. Even the tree failed to bring him a comforting relief from the gloom.
He then turned his gaze upwards towards the sky, watching a tiny droplet splatter against the windowpane.
"Oz?" After the encounter with Gilbert and Alice, Oz had fallen asleep. He only rustled slightly, but failed to perform further movement.
"Oz?" The voice repeated in his groggy mindset. He refused to wake up. At the moment, he was in no mood to deal with anyone. Not after what happened with Alice. He had never felt so low, so guilty, and he didn't even understand why. He had never seen her so angry at him. What did he even do? He would be lucky if she still spoke to him.
'What if… Alice is the one that's trying to wake me up…'
Suddenly hopeful, he snapped his eyes open, expecting to see girl with violet eyes and hair of ebony.
What he saw behind his lids wasn't even human.
"Oz! Oz!" Emily chattered, sitting right on his chest.
Oz jumped out of the sheets and intrinsically knocked Emily off.
"Now, now, Emily! We wanted Oz to be awake! We didn't want to frighten him," a voice chastised the puppet as he caught it in his gloved hands.
The young Vessalius didn't need to even look to confirm who had just came into his room. The puppet was enough. There was only one person who carried Emily wherever he went.
"Break?" Oz said in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
The white-haired man placed the puppet back on his shoulder and replied, "I was told to come here and ask you a question." Interest flickered over his red orbs, scrutinizing Oz rather curiously. "My, why so disappointed? Were you expecting someone else?"
The blonde boy shook his head violently, feeling his cheeks flush in embarrassment.
"Well, I would have been fooled then. Anyways, enough with that. I was wondering if you seen Alice around?"
"Not until earlier today before I fell asleep," he replied with a yawn. "Why? Do you need her? She's probably around here-"
"She's missing, Oz."
He suddenly froze. His drowsy senses felt more acute, processing the breadth of his words in his mind. "What do you mean by that?"
"Alice is missing," Break repeated simply, unwrapping a tiny ball of candy. "We searched high and low for her in the mansion, but we can't seem to find her anywhere."
Oz nearly shouted, "What do you mean she's missing? She has to be here! She couldn't have just walked out of here! Why would she leave anyway?"
Break popped the candy into his mouth. "That was my next question." Seeing inquisition flood into the young boy's green orbs, Break added with a crunch, "You and Gil were the last ones to see her. I did interrogate Gilbert earlier on the matter, but he didn't seem to notice anything off. Did you, Oz?"
His gaze suddenly fell downcast, his lips refusing to form any words. He didn't quite know how to describe it. He wasn't even sure what happened himself.
After a prolonged silence, Break suddenly changed the subject and circled around his room in a lackadaisical manner.
"You know, Oz, rabbits are curious, little creatures." Oz snapped his head up in confusion. "Though they may hop and thump their big feet about in such a wild, carefree manner, they are truly lonely creatures. They seem to require constant attention."
The blonde boy continued to watch the white-haired man wander himself in circles before settling his red eye on the window.
"My, my. Look at this! It's pouring outside!" gasped the Mad Hatter. "But I always believe there is a silver lining even in the gloomiest of times. Like that tree! It's huge!"
Oz blinked once, staring at Break and wondering if he was finally admitting to lunacy. "...Okay. Sure."
"Oh, Oz, it's surely something! You must see it!"
"Um, that's alright, Break. I doubt a tree could cheer me up."
A peculiar smile spread over his lips. "Alright. If you say so! I still say you should look." Break shrugged his shoulders, making his way towards the door. "Well, we'll be on the lookout for Alice! Just make sure you get a lot of rest, okay?"
With that, Oz saw the white-haired male disappear from sight, closing the door gently behind him.
"Break is really weird sometimes," Oz said finitely, stating it more as a fact rather than opinion. "Why does he want me to look at a tree? I know it's really cool, and all, but…"
A gasp then fell from his lips. All thought seemed to dissipate from his thoughts as he stared out the window.
There was no denying it. Up on the tree, in the midst of falling, Oz swore he saw a blur of red.
Without thinking, Oz leapt out of bed and sprinted out the door.
The heavens seemed to burst open and release an unmerciful cascade of water onto him. Frozen, liquid knives pierced through his thin shirt. Oz did not care nor did he feel anything. All he was concerned about was reaching one person.
"Alice?" At the sound of her name, the dark-haired Chain perked up. Violet orbs fell downcast and met a pair of green.
"What the freaking hell are you doing out in the rain? Did your sickness affect your mentality or something?" she nearly screamed, dark brows knitting together in irritation.
Oz laughed in response, inciting an irritated nerve to appear from her temple. "My, now you think I'm sick? I did seem to hear you say otherwise!"
"Just go back to your room now! You need your rest!"
The blonde boy merely smiled. "No!"
"That's right. No."
"Why not? I don't understand… No, Oz! Stop it right now! What are you doing?"
"What does it look like?" grunted Oz as he began scaling the tall tree. "I'm climbing the tree!" Seeing Alice's violet orbs nearly stabbing him with questions, he cheerfully added, "It looks pretty dry where you are sitting, and besides. I always did want to see what the view was like up here."
Alice stammered wildly, futilely attempting to form her thoughts into coherent words. She only released a low sigh of defeat, watching as Oz triumphantly settled himself beside her.
All words had melted away with the incoming downpour. Alice seemed unwilling to speak. Oz had no idea what to say, but comforted himself in her presence.
"Why are you here?" she curtly asked, her orbs fixated on the invisibly horizon.
"I was actually looking for you. Everyone in the mansion thought you were missing," Oz replied honestly. He glanced over to Alice, seeing her body square itself, dark lashes fluttering in surprise. "Why did you go outside? Why are you out here in the rain?"
All fell silent once more. Alice sat in uncharacteristic silence on the branch, white boots swinging absently to-and-fro.
She quietly mumbled, "Well I thought a certain someone thought I was a burden and kicked me out…"
Oz opened his mouth to speak, but only a hoarse cough escaped his throat. His throat suddenly felt like it was burning, disabling him from speaking anymore.
Like he even knew what to say.
How could he express himself properly? How could he tell Alice how he felt at the moment? How he's happy to see she was alright, to see she was still here right next to him?
Oz would have smacked his face if he actually had any strength to perform such an act.
The incoming breeze stabbed his chill, wet skin. Shivers rippled through his spine, raising bumps all across his flesh. Hands placed themselves on his arms in an inane attempt to warm himself.
The chill slowly subsided as heat took its place, protecting his wet skin from the unmerciful breeze.
Clutching the red coat in his hand, he looked to his side. The dark-haired Chain had her arms intertwined obstinately over her chest as she said, "Idiot... coming out in the cold when you're sick no less. You're lucky I'm a Chain and don't get cold that easily. I was getting a little warm even."
Brilliant chartreuse blinked in surprise, eyeing the rabbit. Pink cheeks were puffed into a pout; eyes of delicate violet occasionally drifting over towards his direction. A warmth resonated from his chest, heating his cold skin with a comfortable fire and forcing his lips to curve and upturn.
"You know, you are always looking out me, Alice." This statement had succeeded to capture her attention, forcing a full rotation of her head. "I count on you... Please don't scare me like that and disappear. I'm not sure what I'd do if you left for real!"
Pale cheeks were stained with a bright maroon, amethyst orbs widening into surprised plates. In response, Alice took full liberties to gently sock him on the shoulder. "Jeez, why do you think I'd leave? You still owe me, manservant! There's no way I'm going anywhere."
She then turned her head away from him in a humph, eyes trained on the pouring rain. There was something different. Oz could have sworn that the planes over her flushed face seemed softer, more relaxed. A tiny smile danced over her lips, threatening to break through the surface.
"But that was nice to hear though, Oz. No one ever told me that..."
Oz's lips grinned a little wider. Sure, there were times when Alice was brash and loud, inflicting bodily harm unto him and several other unlucky people, but she was one of the most reliable people he knew. He meant it when he said he could count on her.
Now he wanted to prove that Alice could count on him.
"Oz, look at the sky." At the sound of Alice's voice, Oz complied and looked up. "It looks like the clouds are bursting over or something. Is there really a lot of water up there?"
After a moment of contemplative regard to the sky, he glanced back to the young girl, purple orbs filled with such wonderment.
"Maybe," replied Oz. Alice suddenly fell stiff, a tingling rushing up her arm when a warmth enveloped her hand. She glanced down and stared at a hand placed over hers. She slowly upturned her head, meeting his gentle, verdant stare. "I guess that's why it's called a cloudburst."
'I want to protect that smile, make sure those eyes never see loneliness ever again.'
The Chain's face was besieged with an incomprehensible heat, tugging a smile on her lips as she gripped Oz's hand a little tighter. They both simply watched the sky above them, watching the heavens tear asunder and release all the water onto the earth.
No matter how much one would like them to, such sweet moments do not last forever.
A certain dark-haired servant shouted, "Rabbit, why are you outside in the pouring rain with Oz? He's sick, and you know that!"
"Seaweed, it's not my fault! I can't help it if my servants are so stupid!" cried Alice, her face configuring itself into her usual scowl.
Gilbert rolled a pair of golden eyes and said, "Well, can you get you and your servant down here? We can't have him getting any worse!"
"Yeah, yeah. I hear you. I will." Her glaring amethysts narrowed, cursing the Nightray as he dashed out of the rain. She scoffed, full lips pouting. "Idiotic seaweed head acting like everything's my fault."
The blonde boy stared at the pouting female, mulling over something in his mind.
Alice almost fell off the tree when she felt her cheeks get pinched, nibbled by a certain boy by her side.
"O... Oz? W... Wh... Why'd you do that?" stammered the surprised girl, cheeks blazing.
Oz smiled. "No reason really. You just looked like you needed some cheering up still. You did that to me once so I simply was wondering what would happen if I do that to you."
Her face seemed to flare into a myriad of red. "Jeez... I'm must be coming down with something as well... My face is so hot. We should get back inside."
Oz nodded the affirmative, still feeling Alice cling to his hand as he slowly edged towards the tree trunk.
"Oh, and Oz?"
"Hm?" The young Vessalius winced when a fist jabbed his upper arm.
"Bite me again, and I'll knock out all you're teeth."
A/N Notes: This little idea has been bothering me for awhile, but I haven't had time to ever write it down. I hope it's okay.
Thanks for reading~