Title: Pandora's Box
Author: Alea Seikou
Pairing: Peter / Alice
Rating: PG-13
Challenge: Darkfox360's HnKnA Contest: Mythology
Summary: Of all mankind's emotions, there are none so dangerous nor so rewarding as hope.
Author's Notes: For those unfamiliar with the Greek myth of Pandora, there's actually a couple takes on what happened; but, generally, the story goes that Pandora was gifted with a box and told never to open it. Then, as most mortals do, she let her curiosity get the better of her and opened it anyway unleashing all the the ills of the world upon mankind save for Hope which she managed to keep trapped inside. *cough* Not quite what I had in mind. Really I have no idea where this came from, literally one of those three in the morning creativity bursts. Ah well, enjoy.

. o . o . o . o . o . o .

Peter had never been the most sociable of individuals. Even at the best of times, the aloof White Rabbit was quick to irritate and prone to solving his problems by gunpoint. His, was an unusually callous character, even by Wonderland's standards.

And that, perhaps, was what had Nightmare so intrigued.

"A girl?" Lowering himself down to a seated position, the incubus floated closer to Peter, an amused smile blossoming on his lips. "Of all the reasons to seek me out, I wouldn't have pegged you as the type to need help with the ladies, White Rabbit."

Crimson eyes narrowing behind his spectacles, Peter stiffened indignantly.

"If I needed such help I would hardly come to you." Giving the incubus a disdainful look, Peter straightened himself up primly. "And I said no such thing. A girl, a single girl, I want to bring her here to our world. You know how to do it, don't you?"

"Perhaps."

Glare darkening at Nightmare's evasiveness, Peter crossed his arms over his chest.

"Don't play coy with me, Nightmare. You're the only one who knows how to bridge the gap between worlds." The White Rabbit's hands fisted impatiently as he fixed the floating incubus with a hard look, demanding bluntly. "I need you to tell me what I have to do.

"Hey now, that's hardly the way to ask someone for a favor." Nightmare's grin widened further. "Even if you do fancy yourself in love with Alice."

Long white ears twitched.

"I don't recall giving you permission to read my thoughts." Peter said tightly.

"Who needs permission? You're really loud, you know?" Visible eye fixing wanly on Peter, Nightmare tapped his temple softly. "You could give a guy a headache with all that."

"Moreover, you're incorrect as well." Continuing on as if the incubus hadn't spoken, Peter tipped his head up proudly. "I don't fancy myself in love with her, I love Alice. All of her. I'll do whatever it takes to bring her into this world with me."

"Ah, matters of the Heart, is it then?" Nightmare chuckled lightly at his own wit and was quickly forced to raise his hands in surrender as the rabbit reached pointedly for his pocket watch. "Sorry. Bad joke."

"Indeed."

"Ah well, it shouldn't be that hard to do in anycase." Nightmare gave a casual shrug of his shoulders. Then paused, touching a hand to his chin. "At least I don't think it should."

Peter tapped his foot, brow arching.

"H-Hey! You could at least be a little grateful." Coughing sharply at the rabbit's unspoken insults, Nightmare was forced to grab his handkerchief as blood trickled slowly down his lip. He gave a harsh, wet cough and whined into the lavender fabric. "I don't have to waste my time helping you if I don't want to, you know! I'm important after all!"

"Ah yes. I'm terribly grateful." Tongue dripping with insincerity, Peter only tapped his foot harder. Gloved hand adjusting his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose, he frowned. "Well? You haven't said what it is that needs to be done."

"I'm getting to it. Just try being patient for once." The incubus grumbled, patting the blood from his lips daintily. "These things aren't as simple as they might look."

Sliding pale fingers into a pocket, Nightmare drew out a slim glass vial. Then, with a careless flick of the wrist, chucked it at the awaiting rabbit who deftly snatched it from the air.

"There you go. You'll need to have her drink that."

"I don't appreciate being mocked, Nightmare." Attention snapping up from his examination of the seemingly innocent, delicate glass bottle, Peter glared and lifted the vial up just high enough for the hazy ambient lighting of the surrounding dream to make it sparkle. "How do you expect me to make her drink this?"

The bottle was empty.

"Hm, I wonder?" Chuckling lightly the incubus drifted closer to the White Rabbit. A lazy grin lit his face. "You do want her to come stay in this world, don't you?"

"I believe we've already established that fact. I love her." Peter repeated boldly. "More than anyone. She'd be much better off here with me than anywhere else."

"Then, there shouldn't be a problem." Nightmare gestured back towards the bottle.

A scant number of crystalline drops now clung to the bottom of the vial.

Peter blinked.

"For every bit of your desire to bring Alice into Wonderland. The liquid in the bottle will begin to fill." Leaning back against the air, Nightmare gestured vaguely towards Peter. "So, the more you want to bring Alice here the fuller it will become. However-"

"And?" Holding the bottle disdainfully between his thumb and index finger, Peter shook the pitiful amount of liquid meaningfully. "I want to bring Alice here with every ounce of my being. So? Why isn't it full yet?"

"Don't rush me! What did you expect? A miracle? Geeze..." Muttering something about rodents and teeny tiny brains, Nightmare coughed lightly. "As I was saying... It will take time, and in that time the bottle will collect your desires, White Rabbit. All of them."

He paused a moment to let the implications of that to sink in.

"Hope, love, anger, sadness, hate." Nightmare continued seriously. "The slightest imbalance of any one thing could cause it not to work, or to misfire, or to poison Alice with the negativity of your emotions entirely. Are you prepared to deal with that?"

"Of course." Peter's smile was dazzling, and dark. His glasses gleamed faintly in the thin light of the dream. "My love for Alice is pure, after all. There's no way anything of mine would bring her harm."

Nightmare snorted softly, suddenly feeling the need for a smoke.

"Just so long as you understand." The incubus crossed his arms over his chest. Tipping his head slightly as the angle he was drifting at tilted sharply, he looked down his nose towards Peter. "This is your Pandora's Box to open, White Rabbit. Do so at your own risk."