Title: Endymion
Challenge: Fanfic 50
Prompt: 04. Hole
Summary: [Heart, Nightmare / Alice] The truth of the matter was that he was just as selfish, just as deceitful, and just as desperately in love with Alice as any of them.
Rating: PG-13
Notes: **Truth END spoilers**

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

"You're leaving." It wasn't a question. Glancing from the girl to the thinning stretch of the dream around them, the incubus gave a low sigh. His good eye turned to her solemnly. "You won't be happy if you leave."

She knew that.

"I can't live in a dream forever, it's not realistic. I have to go home." Repeating her mantra stubbornly, Alice managed to meet his gaze only briefly before looking away. Her fists clenched and unclenched at her sides. "I only came to say goodb-"

"To punish yourself further for a crime you didn't commit?" Suddenly he was much, much closer than before, hovering over her as he leaned in, bringing them almost nose to nose. Nightmare's voice dropped knowingly. "To go home to your sister? Even though she's not-"

Stop. Don't.

Alice shuddered, jerking away from the incubus in an attempt to block him out. Eyes wide and grief stricken under the brief weight of suppressed memories. Her feet stumbled over nothing and the dream quaked ominously around them as she slipped further into void between sleep and wakefulness.

"Shhh," Nightmare was already there. Catching her about the waist, he wrapped his arms around her, cradling her gently against his chest. A cool, pale hand reached up to caress her cheek. "Every thing's alright. You don't have to remember. Forget, Alice."

The command tugged soothingly at her senses, and Alice blinked, her eyelids suddenly heavy with sleep. The relentless tick of Nightmare's clockwork heart throbbed dully in her ears as he tightened his grip around her.

"Nightmare?" What was...

"Do you reallywant to go back? Do you even need to? Why?" Nightmare pressed in a low, husky whisper against her temple. "Why would you want to leave when this world loves you so much?"

There was a hand in her apron pocket. Easily plucking out the vial that she'd been carrying for so long, the incubus lifted it up admiringly. The glass sparkled in the muted light.

"And just look how much you've grown to love this world back." He continued, voice pleased and disappointed all at once.

The girl was only half aware of the soft pop of the bottle being uncapped. The heart-shaped stopper tumbling carelessly to the ground between them as Nightmare brought the glass bottle to his lips and tipped the contents back.

But, Alice's thoughts were slowed under the sudden, weighty need to sleep. Even if she did love this world, that didn't make it right to stay. There were people with expectations of her on the other side. She had responsibilities. She didn'tdeserve-

Nightmare leaned down, interrupting Alice's unspoken argument with the insistent brush of his lips against hers as he trapped the girl in an all too familiar tasting bitter kiss.

And, flinching against what she knew was to come, Alice squirmed, protesting weakly under the tightening grip at her chin. Then, slowly, haltingly, she swallowed the medicine down. Her throat tingled.

Waiting to make sure she'd finished, Nightmare pulled back a pleased sigh. One hand moving to slowly swipe away the dribble of liquid that had leaked past her mouth, he licked his fingers clean. His gaze softened affectionately.

"There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" He pressed a second, loving kiss to her lips, determined to catch her in one last, lingering embrace before she tumbled back down the rabbit hole. Pulling back just as her heartbeats began to slow, the incubus leaned his forehead gently against hers. "The game's not over yet. We're just shuffling the deck some."