Like the rusty ticking of an old clock one thought painfully geared throw Alice's mind. No matter how absurd it felt, or how unbecoming it sounded disturbed girl couldn't loose what the secretary Asia Irving had stated earlier that day.

"You and Keir should stop dancing around each other like mechanical dolls of a children's music box and fuck like rabbits." At time sentence had been uttered Alice choked on a cup of tea as if liquid had suddenly turned to acid in her throat.

"For heaven's sake, Alice. Don't look so stunned." Asia had left little time for teen girl to recover stable breath, let alone respond, before she elaborated. "You two have been playing a torturing game of flirting sense introductions were made. If you recall I was there upon your first visit to his office. Don't tell me you didn't notice the way he looked up and down your figure? Or how you get a giddy look in your eyes every time he calls you "Miss Alice" or you refer to him with his full name. "Mr. Keir Cheston." The attraction is almost sickening with sweetness. If you don't advance on him soon I'll be forced to lock the pair of you in a room at The Mangled Mermaid until some intimacy is force out!"

"You must be confused." Alice had found herself genuinely fluster for the first time sense her release from Rutledge Asylum nearly two years ago. Her face reddening more then the queen of hearts' tentacles. "Mr. Cheston and I don't see each other in such a manner. In fact I doubt I could ever see any man in such a manner."

"Not seeing and not wanting to see are two completely different things Alice."

Scoffing now, just as she had during conversation, Alice was eager to excuse herself from its presence again. Ready to invent a quick, apologetic justification to rush away from the words Asia had uttered; huffing confusion, irritation, embarrassment, and curiosity on her way.

Yet girl reasoned that would help as much presently as it had after her lunch with Asia Irving. Like her after noon Alice imagined her evening would be filled with perplexing, unrelenting thoughts regarding what had been said. And although Alice was usually quiet apt at handling perplexing, unrelenting thoughts there was something about this particular though she just couldn't comprehend.

Thus Alice found herself, just a few steps away from the lodgings of Candice Avery; a young lady that had often offered to host tea and friendship with Alice when ever she ran into girl visiting their shared attorney's office. Being a proper spoken and gentle girl Alice hoped that Candice would also have a good ear and honest lips. Alice wasn't above asking for help when she encounter something not even her mind could nerve.

Upon reaching Miss Avery's door personal distress soon dropped on her mental priority list, however. Struggled moans and gasps leaked their way through thin wood of tattered building. Paranoia, always happy to surface in Alice's thoughts, spurred teen girl toward doorknob of rented room. Her damaged mind visualizing potential gruesome causes for such groans with more imagination then she felt comfortable with.

Meeting a bit of resistance from apartment threshold Alice managed to summon strength usually only acquirable in wonderland and beat sticking entrance ajar.

"Miss Avery-" Alice only managed two concerned word before image before her stilled her tongue and burned light color to her skin.

Candice Avery's small, modest, and scarcely clothed form rested against one post of a tiny bed. Her arms tight around another person's neck, lips working on leaving marks on a figure even more nude then her. Crimson hair and ivory skin betraying her partner's identity before either Candice Avery or Asia Irving could move to face the scuffling Alice made on her way into room.

"Excuse me." Alice fumbled as two pairs of startled eyes eventually did find her. "I've hurried in on- I seem to have gotten the wrong- I'll be leaving then."

In a rush Alice was back out on the streets of London. She hadn't even managed to realize what exactly she had charged in on, let alone how flushed it had made her when a delicate, but shaky hand grabbed her dress sleeve.

"Alice!" Candice breathed; her face scarlet, iris' large, pupils small and breath narrow. She was presently a bit more clothed, but the way she was holding one uncovered arm forcefully across her chest told Alice the girl was not as decent as she was used to. "I- mean- Miss Liddel. Please- um- let me explain. Come back inside. This might- ah- might take some time. If you don't mind?"

"I- I don't wish to- intrude." Struggling for a proper word to sum up her thoughts Alice vaguely noted the strength that came from Candice's tugs at her dress. Teen girl being pulled back toward apartment she had just stumbled out of soon enough.

"It's alright Miss Liddel. In light of things we're- um- we're finished. Or- well- we are- more concerned with your wellbeing."

"My- my wellbeing? I assure you I'm quiet fine. Why wouldn't I be fine?"

"Because you just walked in on something that is not seen or even heard of every day. Besides-" Asia Irving's voice cut through Alice and Candice's patchy, fuddled conversation with a strong tone and appearance at housings door. Her nakedness now covered with a warn robe. "-You look as flushed and flustered as a Christian girl that hadn't been able to hold her drink the night before and distinctly remembers dancing on tabletops. Come back inside if only to calm your nerves. If it help's I'll secure us some tea."

Somehow Alice found herself back inside Candace's small lodgings a few minuets later being handed a warm drink and trying to figure out exactly what part of Asia's words had coxed her into staying.

"Well then, now that we have made you somewhat comfortable let's go back to being a tad bit uncomfortable. You just caught two women on their way to having sex. How are you doing with processing that?"

Snapping a gaze that had been fixated on her cup to Asia Alice gawked at pair sitting side by side. Her face shading deeper red while whirlwind disrupted her brain. Yet the sensation passed swiftly; her head already diligent and masterful with handling the strange and uncommon.

So her response to inquiry came quick. "The pair of you attempting to bed each other is certainly not something I regard with horror or unease."

"Are you sure?"

"You doubt me?"

"Well the way you rushed off had us a bit concerned." Candice's sentence was quiet, but audible. She was still scarlet and holding herself gracelessly rigid, even after she pulled a shawl over her shoulders.

"I would react that way stumbling upon any intimate situation. Although I'll admit I'm a bit alarmed, I am not stricken. I responded the way I did because it is just not something I was expecting to come across."

"I see. So I assume that is also the reason why you ran off in such a huff this afternoon. When I suggested you and Keir fuck like rabbits?"

As Candice squeaked her own alarm at question tension switched back on inside of Alice. While the girl on Asia's right demanded in a docile yet demanding hue what the other had done Alice's muscles stiffened. Her dulling expression blushing once more.

"Tha- that's not what we are addressing here! Do not change the topic or I really will be horrified into leaving."

"Well, I don't want you doing that again. Thinking about it I probably should have known not to use such wording. There is more behind companionship than "fucking." And knowing the pair of you I wouldn't be surprised if you both found better thrills in other activities and never once rip each other's cloths off. I will not apologize however. I know it's not my place. But if I stayed out of everything I was meant to I wouldn't be where I am today. So tell me Alice, am I really going to have to bar some doors to get you to admit your attraction to Keir?"

"Such an idea is ludicrous." Alice scorned, wishing that Asia could fully understand how absurd her thoughts really were. But to save what little respect and company her life was graced with Alice knew better then to act on that wish. Keir is her cat after all. Her insane cat from her insane internal world somehow manifested in reality as a lawyer. Not even a handful of Rutledge Asylum patients would believe such nonsense.

"The idea possibly could be ludicrous. Yet you already know that London is made up of the ludicrous and daft. Honestly, after all you've been through, of all people, you should be more open to crazy ideas."

As the teen girl listened to Asia soothing tone, as if she were comforting a confused child, Alice watched woman twine arms around Candice's waist. A surprisingly timid and meaningful embrace compared to the holds Alice saw every day on street corners. Asia's affectionate move quit possibly a gesture to prove a point as much as a lover's touch.

And then Alice's mind began to wonder, as it was custom to doing with out permission. She couldn't deign Keir's presence was pleasant. Even upon her first visit to wonderland as a child Alice recalled being ever so thankful to see a friend at the queen of hearts morbid garden party. Then, when she fell down her rabbit hole years later, after trauma and fire, his grin had been a comfort. And although for some unknown reason she most recently found she was in no mood for his twisted answers, Alice still wanted and needed his advice. Whether she was willing to call on it or not.

Most definitely Alice was not a swooning lady dreaming of a gentlemanly lord, the teen girl concluded. But that wasn't all that she had to come to terms with. Working through every dysfunctional gear of her mind; every insane, frightening, and fantastical mental wonders pushed aside Alice realized there was a pattern and support under it all.

Like whipping a chess board clean of its pieces the girl found there was something underneath. Support. Her Cheshire Cat. Through every move and close check he had helped to hold Alice up through all morbid games forced on her. That alone had gained Keir Cheston her respect and appreciation. And maybe now, it had even earned him some endearment as well.