After all, it is easier to dance with masks than without.

Alois Trancy and Jim McCain are in equal contempt. It's easy for both of them to deny the crimes to their second name when it doesn't really exist. It was only fabricated for the show, nothing more. But he goes by it and turns his head at it just the same, because it is far easier to be Alois than Jim.

There are more similarities than not in the two of them—Alois thinks of them as two, even if one of them might have died the moment he donned a red kimono and a self-satisfied smirk. They're both childish—to the point of being cruel. Both impulsive, and angry and proud. And both are cowards.

Alois Trancy leaves when there's fear and pain. Gets up and walks away. Whether it's darkness or wounds or just emotion—Alois won't stay (and this is why, now, Jim hates him). And the old self, Jim McCain is left to deal with the darkness or the wounds and fear and pain.

Of course, Jim isn't weak. It's just that Alois leaves him in such ridiculous situations—like blinking and finding a sword in your stomach, per se—that it's hard not to be tearful…and Jim isn't as proud as Alois. Not too proud to beg for someone to put an end to his sadness and pain, not too proud to declare what's in both of their hearts as he grasps a pant leg and cries.

And when he is abandoned, Alois quietly takes the body and forces it forward, to put on his calm smiles and insane smirks.

He has never loved her; she was only used because he wanted to see Ciel angry—to laugh as Ciel marched over and danced, nervous and stiff. It would have been the same if she was a dog he cared for, or even just a prized possession (he had already taken the ring once, after all).

He (still) suspects that this Elizabeth girl wasn't much anyway—no more than a duty, although the anger in Ciel's face was certainly real enough (but he wasn't convinced he loved her, not that way).

She has never been proud, because she has never been vain. Only pretty and innocent, and sweet and kind, airheaded and girlish. He hates that kind of thing, the soft smiles and innocent eyes. They disgust him.

But it is her who finds him under that huge, twisting tree. A close-to complete stranger. Why in the world a noble girl is wandering the woods not-so-far from his mansion is beyond him, but somehow she is there, and her emerald eyes (not sapphire or ruby or topaz) nervously dart from his sky blue ones to the scarlet stain spreading from his abdomen.

She murmurs questions, and he turns his head away, ignoring her.

"I don't need your help. Leave," he says as coldly as he can manage through the sharp intakes of breath and stabs of pain.

She eyes him uncertainly, smoothing the folds of her dusk-purple gown and looking around nervously (it is nightfall, after all—which still doesn't explain why she's out here at this hour). "I want to help," she says finally, stubbornly. "You're hurt, and you shouldn't be out in the dark like this when you've got…that," she glances at the spreading stain before trying to catch his eyes again.

He snorts, but doesn't look back, staring at the expanse of shadowy trees. "Then what are you doing out here, Miss Elizabeth?" he asks mockingly, glancing to her face once, just to see the reaction.

He is not disappointed—she falters, and glances around before answering. "The driver wanted to get a drink for the horses before continuing—we're a long way from town—and the train station, after all,"

"You're travelling so late at night?" he's surprised, despite himself.

She nods. "Not to home, though. To my aunt's. We're staying over for the night, but she's busy until supper…" she explains hurriedly. "So we waited until after we'd eaten, and then mother and I got in the carriage…"

Alois raises his eyebrows. "Won't she be looking for you—your mother?"

Elizabeth shrugs. "She was asleep when the carriage stopped. I think she's working too hard. I'll hurry back to her, but…" she glances back toward the trees, then to his eyes again, nervous. "Let me help, first,"

"No," he glares.

"You're bleeding," she says matter-of-factly, untying the ribbon around her waist (the dress, which had been gathered around the waist for the figure, fell loosely past her narrow waist—it fit her better, somehow) and kneeling down beside him, making to press the bundle of light fabric to the wound.

He flinches away from it, and she frowns in frustration, her neat eyebrows scrunching toward her wrinkled brow, her green eyes flashing, childishly stubborn, and moves past his protesting hands, intent on taking care of him.

"Why are you even bothering?" he snaps, as she presses the fabric rather painfully against the bloodstains.

She stares at him for a moment, then breaks into a light smile. "If I can't do this, I'm really quite useless, aren't I?" she says finally. "I've been thinking…all I've been doing for everyone is cry and wait to be rescued,"

Alois meets her eyes for a split second. "It's for him. You love him," he realizes suddenly, recognizing the emotion in her earnest eyes.

Neither of them need to voice who they're talking about.

"Yes," Elizabeth replies after a moment, smiling again, brightly.

He hates the peaceful curve of her lips and the emotion bright in her eyes. "He doesn't love you," he spits out. "He'll never love you. He loves Sebastian—his butler. He'll never look at you,"

He smirks, satisfied, and leans back, waiting—what he's expecting are tears and gasps and denial and a sobbing, miserable fright of a noble's daughter. But Elizabeth Middleford gives him none of those.

Her smile is still peaceful, although her eyes dim. "I'm not blind," she answers, pressing the cloth closer to him. "I can see the way he looks at Sebastian. But you're wrong. He looks at me, too. Not in the same way, but I'm sure that somehow, Ciel loves me," she looks him straight in the eye, and he can see it, that emotion he hates—the one he wants, but can never have. And there are tears there, too. Swimming, threatening to overflow. "Even if it's not the same, and even if he'll never feel that way about me, it's enough for me. So I smile and laugh for him, because Ciel loves me best when I'm happy," a tear trickles down her cheek.

He shoves her away, and she goes sprawling to the ground, a heap of ruined fabric sitting on a dirty forest floor. "I hate it. I hate that. It's useless," he mutters. "He'll never look at you, so—"

But you're the same way. A voice whispers. Claude never looks at you that way, not now. But somehow, you still believe he loves you, and—

"SHUT UP!" he shrieks aloud, and Elizabeth looks truly afraid for the first time.

"Alois…?" she asks hesitantly, and he glares at her again.

And then he sneers again. "You're pathetic," he snarls. "I—you'll never be loved, but you try—and it's stupid and pointless—he'll never love you—never—and—"

In his fury, he doesn't notice that she's been moving closer, and when he feels a soft cloth against his cheek, he jumps in surprise. It's a handkerchief.

"You're crying," she points out, her voice steady, although there are tears on her cheeks, too.

"Liar," he mutters angrily, shoving her hand away.

She shows him the wet fabric with a slight smile.

He stares at it disbelievingly for a moment, then turns his head away. "Go away, and run back to your mother and your carriage, and your pretty dresses and your Ciel Phantomhive," he hisses at her.

She rises to her feet, dusts off her dress, and offers him a light smile. "Thank you," she says, after a moment of Alois's harsh glare.

He blinks. "What for?" he asks, too shocked to be angry.

"For listening," she explains simply, and turns and walks into the woods.

It only takes a moment for her to blend with the dark trees and disappear.




A/N: I wrote everything past the first four paragraphs at 12:30-1:00am. Which might explain a LOT. I have no idea how this came up or when I decided to write it, at all. It just. Wrote itself. The first four paragraphs seem almost completely unrelated to the rest, I'm sorry. ;_;