Title: Giving Thanks
: Prompt Bingo on LJ
Prompt: Public
Summary: [Joker, Bloody Twins / Alice] Good children always say thank you.
Rating: PG-13

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

While Fall in the Hatter's Territory lacked the bitter chill of Winter, there was still a certain nip to the air. The promise of a first frost that would never come to pass. Crisp, clean, and filled with the crackle of freshly fallen leaves on the ground.

"Ah, Onee-san." The pair of loitering guards snapped to attention as Alice pushed the gate open, a picnic basket held securely in her fist. Identical grins lit their faces. "Are you going out?"

"If you wanted someone to go with you, we were just about to take a break." Dee offered eagerly.

"Elliot will be cranky if you two skip out on guard duty again." She scolded automatically, a wry smile touched her lips.

"Eh? But we would still be guarding!" He protested.

"Exactly!" Dum nodded, leaning his ax against his shoulder. "We'd be guarding you, Onee-san. You're much more important than some stupid, boring gate! Even the idiot rabbit would agree with that!"

The twins treated her to their most cherubic smiles.

"It's good I'm not going anywhere then." Snorting softly in amusement, Alice swung the gate shut behind her. The cast iron creaking faintly as it slid back into place. "I was actually just coming to see you two."

They beamed.

"Aww, Onee-san!" Leaping forward, the pair pounced happily on her, Dum snuggling against her right side as Dee fell upon her left. "You do love us!"

"Gah!" Staggering under the additional weight, Alice tried in vain to lift her basket out of the way. Only to find herself hedged in by two over-sized blades. Her voice pitched nervously. "Wait! Watch the axes! If you make me spill I won't be able to give you anything."

"Give us..." Dee tilted his head up at her, blinking curiously.

"...You brought us presents, Onee-san?"

"Well, not presents per say." Alice reached a hand down towards the basket as soon as they'd loosened their holds enough for her to move. Rummaging around briefly, she took out a thermos and a pair of mugs. "I was just worried that you two might be a bit cold out here, so I brought a few things..."

Four gloves, two scarves and a handful of freshly made cookies followed the thermos out of the basket.

But, before she could say anything further, the twins were back. Arms wrapping tightly about her waist, they trapped her between them in a fierce hug. Giggling faintly as they each stretched up to press a kiss on either of her cheeks.

"Really, Onee-san?" A pleased hum sounded to her right, followed by soft laughter on her left. "You were worried about us?"

"Hehe, Onee-san is so thoughtful. Isn't she brother?"

"It's not that big a deal..." Flushing lightly under the praise, Alice fidgeted uncomfortably. Completely missing the sly look the pair exchanged, as she babbled on. "I was just- Hey! What are you-"

She broke off suspiciously, interrupted by low snickers sounding on either side of her.

"Thank you, Onee-san." Lilting his words in a childish singsong, Dee tugged lightly at her hair. Forcing her to turn her head just as he shifted up on his toes. Ax abandoned in favor of throwing his arms around her neck. He slanted his mouth over hers, swallowing her gasp of surprise with a smug chuckle.

Dum held out for a few moments longer, then tugged impatiently at his sibling's sleeve, tossing his ax aside.

"No fair, brother! I want to thank Onee-san too!"

"Ehh?" Dee pulled away with a faintly grumbled protest. Leaving Alice with just enough time to catch her breath before Dum moved hastily forward to take his place.

"Thank you from me as well, Onee-san," Fingers tangling in her hair, Dum yanked her down for a second kiss. His lips twisting mischievously against hers as he cupped the back of her head to angle her closer to him.

"Don't take too long." Still muttering discontentedly, Dee wrapped an arm around Alice's waist, leaning in to nuzzle her instead. "I'm still not done showing Onee-san how grateful I am."

Small hands slipped deliberately under her apron in a manner that was far from innocent and Alice gave a sharp, muffled squeak. Shocked into action, she grabbed the first twin she could put her hands on and shoved. Hard. Forcing the pair of them to stumble back a step, bewildered.

"Ahh! Onee-san?" They blinked up at her in surprise. "What are you doing?"

"What am I doing?" She crossed her arms defensively over her chest, cheeks flaring hotly. "What are you two doing?"

A low snort sounded from the path leading up to the gate.

"That's what I want to know as well." Returning back from his patrol, Elliot stood on the pathway, arms akimbo. One brow arched up. "What the hell are you doing?"

The twins stiffened. Moving to reclaim their weapons, they turned to glare disdainfully at him.

"Che... stupid rabbit."

"Can't you see that we were busy?"

"You should be busy." Drawing himself up, Elliot returned their glares with a sneer. His ears twitched furiously. "Busy guarding the damn gate, instead of just standing around and feeling up Alice in front of it!"

If it were possible for Alice's blush could get any darker, it would have. As things were she merely tottered slightly in place, feeling the faint, dizzying pull of rapid blood loss.

"Oooh, jealous? Chicken rabbit?" Dum pulled a face, sticking out his tongue in a move that was quickly mimicked by his sibling.

"Too bad for you idiot rabbit, 'cause Onee-san loves us more!"

"Who are you calling a rabbit?" Punctuating his yell with a pistol shot, Elliot swung the muzzle of his gun towards the nearest twin. Only to fume as he was blocked by the blade of an ax. "Little brats!"

It was only as the three began their usual tussle that they realized the fourth member of their party had already turned to leave, slinking towards the gate in the hopes of escaping undetected back to the mansion.

"Ah! Onee-san!"

Alice froze, flinching.

"You're going back already?"

The twins sounded so earnestly disappointed that she turned around despite herself. Determinedly not meeting any of their eyes, she gestured vaguely towards the trio.

"Yes, well... I don't want to get in the way." Alice cleared her throat pointedly. "Besides, it seems like my concerns about you two being cold out here were entirely unfounded. So..."

She made the mistake of glancing up and was met with the sight of two identically cheeky grins. Exchanging a glance, the twins preened. Leaving Elliot to look on in mute disgust as they called sweetly after her, waving playfully.

"Thank you again, Onee-san."

"Come back and warm us up again anytime you want, okay?"