16. Her Heart: Tolerated

Alice Liddell never had a more tiring job than working for the Jokers. Even working for Gray, Nightmare, and Julius at once wasn't as exhausting as this. Were these men trying to kill her? Did they seriously want her to die?

Working between White and Black was difficult on its own, but the tasks they asked her to do were more than she bargained for in a lifetime.

Her mornings starting from her move to the circus usually began exactly there; the circus. The stuff she did wasn't anything too hard… for those that have been working in the circus all their lives. She had to safety check all of the acrobat nets, clean out the elephant cages, pass out flyers, clean the aisles before and after every show, and other little odd duties that resulted in her consulting the jester children to assure she did them right.

The worst job of all, though, had to be assisting Joker in the acts. Back home, she'd seen those lovely women in sparkled leotards and sexy black boots play along with the role of the beautiful, stereotypical maiden that flashed about the center ring with her master, performing acts that required great trust between she and said ringleader.

Alice never imagined she would be one such woman.

She dreaded the costume at first. She still did. Rather than sparkles and sequins, the leotard was made of fake leather; black laces tying up the front, almost like a corset. A large, vividly red bow rested at her hips, along with a crimson-tinted translucent skirt that lay tattered halfway down her thighs. She wore pantyhose and long leather boots; black gloves stretching to her elbows. Her hair was piled into a messy bun at the top; a scarlet ribbon holding it in place.

She felt ridiculous in such a thing. Even more so, she felt embarrassed and nervous when she was called out to act in the circus; fumbling clumsily with a flushed face and nervous stammers. It was lucky for her that White didn't make her talk much, or else his circus would fall to ruins.

The acts were even worse.

They were like life or death situations. To die or not to die, that was her choice. They weren't too bad at first; riding atop an elephant or readying the rabbits for their pyramid acts. Of course, this soon branched out to nearly sawing her in half and attempting to drown her in a glass box. If White hadn't discreetly helped her through these, she wouldn't live to see now.

Oh, but today was a different act entirely.

"W-What am I going to be doing?" Alice asked nervously, teal eyes watching the jester as he waved some jester children off to help settle the crowd on the other side of the tent. An oil lamp nearby dimly lit the darkened tent; strange shadows mingling on the red wall behind them.

It was the last show for the night, which meant after she finished, Alice had to rush to the prison and change; transferring her work over as Black's maid. The jester children usually cleaned up at the last show for her; lord knows she didn't have the time.

White sighed, pulling his jingling court jester hat atop his mass of wine red hair; pulling it snuggly on his head so it wouldn't fall during the act. "I thought I explained earlier. You're going to perform with the acrobats."

"But I can't do that! I don't know how to do any of that!" the foreigner shrieked in a panic; clutching her chest tightly as if she could calm her beating heart. White clicked his tongue in annoyance, raising an eyebrow at the maiden.

"It's not hard. Just hold your hands out and fall when they give you the signal." the ringmaster explained simply, strapping his belt around his waist.

"B-But what's the signal?" Alice asked, her nerves a mess.

"You'll see." These were the final words White said before he led Alice out into the circus; a large, sugarcoated spreading across his face to please the attendees. "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the grandest show in Wonderland!"

The circus continued as usual from then on. Introductions. Some acts. The awes and cheers from the crowd. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Not until Alice came up to stage.

Pure, fearful thoughts ran through her mind as she stood in the middle of a large, metal platform in the middle of the tent; several yards above the ground. The lights flashed on her, blinding her. She desperately looked around for some type of symbol from the acrobats across from her, but they gave none.

The leotard-attired women and men climbed onto the trapeze bars; their hands gripping the bars tightly. Alice gulped as they swung forward on either side of her, swinging back and forth. A brunette at her left nodded, and taking this as her symbol, Alice fell forward; holding her breath so as not to ruin the act with her senseless screaming.

Two pairs of hands gripped her own, swinging her back and forth with the acrobat. Alice watched in fear and amazement as the acrobat swung her about, tossing her to the next faceless across from him.

The maiden struggled to remain silent during this act, and sighed in relief when it was finished. At least she'd survived one thing.

The circus soon closed, and Alice sighed in brief relaxation, taking out the ribbon in her hair and allowing the locks of brunette to flow freely downward. White watched her from behind, nodding.

"What are we having for dinner?" the jester asked, beginning to remove his accessories as well; relaxing now that their company was gone. Alice sighed.

"I was thinking pasta?" the foreigner guessed, not entirely sure. White simply nodded.

"I'll see you at dinner." the man said, already heading back to his room. Alice nodded, fading into the stone prison.

"You're late." Black's voice deadpanned, and Alice sighed, spotting the warden leaning in irritation against the stone walls nearby; his ruby eye glaring at her.

"I know, I'm sorry. The act took longer than it was supposed to." the foreigner apologized, taking off her boots and placing them under her arm so she could move about freely; those boots were killing her! "I'll go get dinner on the stove now."

"You'll get changed first." Black stopped her, putting his arm in front of her. Alice pouted, but huffed, moving his arm away and nodding once before making her way down the hall.

Working for Black was like becoming Satan's servant. His tasks weren't hard- oh no, those were easy. What was hard, though, was doing them in this.

That skimpy little maid's uniform from Valentine's Day- precisely two weeks ago- fitted itself against the foreigner, and Alice blushed; groaning as she changed into the costume. Sure, it was easier to move around in, but it was embarrassing! Having to check the cells, make dinner, bend over to clean in this… It was shameful.

Especially when he was watching her.

Alice felt uncomfortable under his smirking gaze as she scurried to the strange stone kitchen and prepared dinner, setting the rectangle oak table that waited on the other side of the room. When dinner was prepared, she passed the plates out, blushing as Black stared at her.

Fed up, she turned towards the man and glared. "Would you please stop staring? It's annoying."

"Is it making you uncomfortable?" the warden asked with a smirk, leaning back in his chair.

"Yes, it is." Alice answered honestly, washing her hands before leaving to her own plate.

"Then I'm not going to stop." the man taunted. Alice huffed, but looked away, waiting for White to show up.

It took a good fifteen, twenty minutes before the ringmaster decided to show up; most of the time consisting of Alice slapping Black's hands when he tried to eat. Eating at the dinner table with her new roommates made the foreigner feel a little better. It was just like back at home- back in her own world- but better. There was no awkward tension; it seemed almost… cozy.

When the trio finished their dinner, Alice was right back to work. She cleaned up the plates and silverware before timidly walking by the cells; trying ignore the stared she got as she checked to assure all the inmates were in their proper cells. This took up most of her time on its own, and only got worse when an inmate managed to escape.

Two hours must have passed before she finally finished checking the inmates, taking a deep breath from her long walk around the prison and heading back to Black's room.

This was the worst of it all.

Didn't that man know how to clean his room at all, or was he just too lazy to care? Did he enjoy just giving the foreigner more work to do? Was her theory of him plotting to kill her true?

From the mess that surrounded the newly appointed maid to the ankle, it sure seemed like it.

Dirty clothes were strayed in large piles across his floor, almost as if his closet had puked. She didn't even know he owned half of these clothes. T-shirts, jeans, swim trunks… a speedo? She shuddered. She didn't even want to know.

Random empty bags of chips and pretzels crumpled underneath her feet; lonely soda cans piling around the floor. A playstation was left out; the controllers' wires tangled and messy. How did he live like this?

Alice sighed, brushing invisible sweat from her forehead. "Better get to work."

Black's boots clamped noisily against the tiled floors of the prison; a scowl on his face. Of all the luck… The shower in his bathroom just had to act up. He'd have to get those jester brats White was so fond of to fix it in the morning. Until then, he had to resort to using the guest bathroom.

The redhead used several profanities under his breath as he slammed the door behind him, not bothering to lock as he tossed the gray towel that was formerly wrapped around his waist overtop the silver bar attached to the side of the tiled wall. The shower was shamelessly placed to the side- a glass slider separating it from the rest of the room. Not that he cared- he didn't plan on having anyone barge in on him.

Alice took in a deep breath, sighing in relief as she tightened the black towel around her chest; closing her eyes peacefully as she strode down the stone hall quickly, praying no one would see her.

She was tired. Oh so tired… She wanted to sleep so badly, but if she didn't get a shower now, she wouldn't have another chance to get one until tomorrow night, and that was much too long for her liking.

Half asleep and barely aware of her surroundings, Alice softly opened the guest bathroom door; a small, inaudible creak letting out as she stepped in and closed it shut. She could hear something loud inside; water maybe? But why would water be running?

Too tired to care, Alice yawned, removing her towel and stepping into the shower, preparing to turn it on.

Wait, why was it already on?

Hot water splashed against her face, waking the foreigner up as she took in the silhouette of the warden in front of her; shampoo running from his hair down to his glistening body; his ruby eye widening in shock when he noticed the outsider in front of him. He was just as bare as she; his ivory skin wet and shined under the soapy water.

Both faces immediately flushed in a shade of scarlet that neither being had ever shared. Black was even shocked by his own reddening cheeks, but they were nothing compared to the deep blush Alice fashioned; her eyes taking in his form by accident.

Two, high-pitched shrieks echoed off the tile as Alice immediately grabbed for her towel again; wrapping it securely and protectively around her body.

"WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU DOING HERE? !" the prison guard shouted.

"I-I-I'm sorry! I-I didn't know anyone was in here!" the brunette shrieked, blushing madly as she struggled to escape towards the door.

"DIDN'T YOU F****** HEAR THE SHOWER RUNNING? !" Joker demanded as if he were yelling at an idiot, his head peeking out from the shower with a glare. Alice fumbled nervously towards the door.

"N-No! Goodnight!" she squeaked, already darting down the hall.

Even after an hour, Alice was still red faced and embarrassed as she laid nervously on her bed; clutching onto her cotton pillow for dear life. Rather than the cream gown she'd worn at Clover Tower, the Jokers provided her with a long, off-shoulder black nightgown. It was much warmer than the last, and certainly longer, so she didn't complain.

Of course, right now her mind wasn't on clothes.

How could she be so stupid? She should have heard the shower running! She was such an idiot! She walked right in on him in the shower! A-and… she saw…

Alice blushed deeper, screaming angrily into her pillow. She was such an idiot! A pure idiot! She should be beheaded for her stupidity!

Wait… if she saw that… did that mean…he…?

"Gah!" Alice shrieked, pressing her hands to her cheeks in embarrassment. If she saw, of course he did, too! How humiliating! How degrading! He would never let her hear the end of it! She would never live this down!

Alice groaned, curling back on top of her bed in shame. The creak of her door sounded, and the woman grew rigid; closing her eyes tightly as she snuggled into the pillow some more.

No words were spoken, but she felt a weight press itself down on the bed behind her; the springs sounding. She could feel a stare on her, and nervously, the foreigner glanced up; freezing when her gaze met with that of Black Joker.

Unsure of what else to say, Alice piped, "I-I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to!"

"Hmph. You're an idiot." the warden said, glaring down at her. Alice flinched, sliding away slightly.

"It was an accident…" she argued weakly, avoiding his gaze. She couldn't help but flame up in a bright red when she was near him; too embarrassed from earlier.

"Tch. Are you afraid?" Black asked, leaning back on the bed. It was then Alice noticed that he was still wet, and only attired in a pair of black pajama bottoms; his chest showing off its six-pack. The foreigner's blush intensified, and the warden smirked, enjoying her discomfort.

"A-Afraid?" the foreigner tested the word unsurely.

"Afraid that I'll hit you or yell at you for being an idiot." Black explained, a little annoyed. Alice sat up; using her pillow as a shield against her chest.

"I-I wasn't until you mentioned it…" she answered honestly, carefully lowering her pillow. She deserved to be hit or scolded. She should've have made such a stupid mistake. It was unforgivable. "B-But if you really planned to…" She closed her eyes, waiting for the pain.

Black sighed, and when nothing came, Alice opened her eyes in confusion; blinking uncertainly when she noticed the redhead sitting in front of her; one arm resting on his knee and an annoyed look in his eye.

"Don't take everything so seriously. I don't hate you, you know."

Alice tilted her head to the side, even more so confused. "For walking in on you?"

"Not just that, idiot. You really are an idiot, you know that?" Joker said. Alice narrowed her eyes.

"So I've been told." she muttered.

"I don't hate you in general." the warden explained slowly, as if he were teaching a child a new lesson.

"So… you like me?" Alice felt strange using the words when speaking to the Joker, touching her lips lightly as if in disbelief.

"I wouldn't go that far. I… tolerate you." Black corrected, narrowing his eyes at nothing in particular.

Alice's cheeks painted a light blush. For what reason, she didn't know, but they did, and lightly- very subtly- she smiled.

"Thanks, Black." she replied, her smile widening at her words. "That means a lot."

Of course, he had to ruin the moment.

"What I tolerate more is that." his eye trailed down to the small amount of cleavage her dress exposed; his expression smirking and lustful. Alice gasped, pulling her dress up and shoving the man away.

"Get out!" she shrieked, pulling back; face stained in scarlet.

"But I've already seen it." the guard teased, leaning forward.

Alice glared. "Get out, I said!"

"One more peek won't kill you." the warden taunted, one finger hooking itself around the top of her gown.


DONE. 8D *tears of joy* I'm sorry if the showers part was too little and disappointing; I didn't want to describe it too much and head into the M-zone. |||OTL There's so much I left out of this chapter… Right now I could care less, though; I'm glad this story ended. B| It was taking too long to finish it up.

Next story… *drum roll* The Game of Fools! 8D Alice finds a key of Jokers on April Fool's Day, and the role holders are forced into the month of fools, where men become women and women become men. Black in heels and Ace with boobs? Very amusing. XD

I don't really have much to say now. ^^; If you guys are interested, I've started putting up pictures and such for Alice's kids for Childhood, so you can check them out on my deviantART if you'd like. Ace's kid has some real issues… *evil laughter*

The Making of this Chapter

Black: She walked in on me in the shower! F*CK YEAH!

Me: Yeah, but she's leaving as fast as she can. XD

Alice: *still traumatized*

Black: F*CK NO! I'm f****** keeping her there! I want some f****** action already! DX

Me: Oh, you'll get action… In the next story. XD

Black: …F*ck that sh*t. B| *picks up Alice and carries to bathroom*

Alice: D8 GAH! HELP ME~!

Me: *gets out video tape* Oh, I'll help alright~ Hurrhurr. BD