"Coffee…coffee…ugh where is it?" Alice looked up at the selves looking for the product. Julius has sent her out to buy more coffee, seeing as to how the clockmaker is a non-stop workaholic who may or may not be addicted to the stuff. He had given her the money needed for the store as well as a list of other household items. The girl looked back at the list she was given before looking back up at the selves. Having spotted the desired coffee, she reached up and grabbed the jar and placed it in her basket. Crossing the last item off her list, she then headed to the cashier to pay for the groceries.

The faceless smiled, "Did you find everything alright?" he asked as he began scanning the items. "Yes just fine, "Alice said not really paying attention to him as she looked out the storefront. It was slowly turning into night. "Okay! That will be (insert amount here)!" The girl turned back to him and paid for the groceries. She gathered the bags in her arms and headed out the door. The cold breeze hit her face as she hugged the bags closer, "That's some wind we have tonight," she told herself as she began to walk back to the tower. The clouds in the sky started to circle and then…

Drip…

Alice looked up at the sky as she felt something cold and wet glide down her face. Then it began to pour down raining. Recovering from her shock, she ran into the nearest shelter. Hearing a 'ding' at the door she presses her back against it and breathed steady breaths, "How in the world is it raining in Wonderland? It never rains!" Slowly she began to take in the shop she ran into. It was unbelievably dark, with only having a single antique lamp on top of a drape layered counter by the door. Alice squinted as she tried to make out the shapes in the dark. Then all the lights flashed on, making her wince.

"Ah, it seems we have a customer!"

She recovers to see a plump elder faceless woman with stringy white hair pulled into a loose bun and a yellow shawl around her shoulders. She gave Alice a sweet smile as she approached her. Seeing the newly lit surroundings, Alice confirmed that it was an antique shop. A lot of knick knacks and other essentials were placed and sorted throughout the shop. "I'm sorry for barging in, it's just that it started to rain and I know that it barely rains here—

"Please, do not worry, rain comes and goes at random, it was about that time for it to come anyway," the woman said, "Come now you are soaked to the bone! Let us get you some dry clothing before you catch cold!" She peeled the groceries from her arms and placed them by the lamp on the counter and grabbed Alice's hand and pulling her into the back room. The woman seated Alice at a table and hurried over to the dresser on the far side of the room. "Really you don't have to do this," Alice tried again. "Ah! Here we are, try this on!" The woman handed her an oversized sweater that stopped just at her thighs and a pair of tights with slippers. She looked at the items she held and then back at the woman. "I'm going to go make some tea so you can change in here," with that the elder woman left Alice in the room.

Sighing, Alice stripped out of her wet clothes and put on the clothes she was given. The sweater smelled a bit like dust and felt a bit scratchy. The woman returned with a tray with two steaming tea cups. "Oh I knew they would fit, and they fit just nicely on you Alice!" the woman chirped. She placed the tray at the table and seated herself. The woman waved her hand and gestured Alice to sit. The foreigner seated herself and asked, "How did you know my name?"

The elder woman took a teacup and handed it to her as she did so herself after and took a long sip from it. "Well seeing as to how you are the only person here who has a face and not "ones with duties" words spread pretty quickly around here," she chuckled a bit. Alice took a sip from her tea and winced a bit at the twinge of bitter taste. "So it rains often around here?" she asked as she placed the cup down.

"Well we did have a pretty long drought here, and the grass was close to browning so the rain comes when it feels fit to," she stated. Alice nodded her head in understanding though she barely got part of it. "So is this your shop?" she asked after a long awkward pause was setting in. "Yes it is. This old shop has been here for a long time, as long as I could remember actually," the woman said wistfully, "I've always had a little obsession with vintage items, anything old can still have some potential to it I always say." The woman stopped talking and chuckled a bit, "Well I guess people nowadays say 'out with the old and in with the new', I can't possibly remember the last time I had a customer here." Even though the woman didn't have eyes, Alice could still see the pain etched on her face.

"Well I think you have a lovely shop," Alice smiled in hoping of cheering up the woman. She gave a small smile in return, "Thank you." The two chatted for a while as they drank their tea, even though Alice cringed at the taste of it. Soon then the rain started to let up. "It was nice to have company this evening, even if it was for a sort while," said the woman as she gathered all the dishes. "It was a nice evening and I enjoyed talking to you as well," Alice said happily. The elder picked up the tray and left for the kitchen to soon return back. "Alice, would you like a gift from my shop? I doubt anyone will come by and all these items are just gathering up dust," the woman offered. Alice shook her head no, "I couldn't possibly do tha—

"Alice I insist, go up front and pick something out, plus I have to keep your wet clothes overnight so I can dry them properly; you can come back tomorrow to get them." The woman ushered her to the front of the store and left the girl there. Seeing as how she can't refuse the offer, she scoped out the items finding something that would appeal to her. Wandering the assorted items, nothing really seemed to pop out to her until she spotted a hand held sized glass box. She went over to it and picked up the case turning it in all ways expecting it. It seemed plain but something inside her told her to get it. "Ah, I see you made your choice."

Frightened, the girl whipped her head around to see the old woman standing behind her with a childlike smile on her face that could almost rival Ace's. Almost.

"What is this?" Alice asked curiously. The woman took the box from her and turned it over inspecting the bottom. "This was given to me from a young man who used to come by and keep me company whenever business was slow," her fingers grazed over the smooth texture, "he told me this box has a story behind it, 'just as Pandora had a box bestowed upon her, this box makes up the internal conflict that man and woman fall prey to, if opened, all that is bottled up shall be poured out like a rush and nothing will be left but an empty shell left wandering the world on its own.'"

The woman grabbed Alice's hand and placed the small box into her palm, "Hold those words dear, they may be a fun story to tell others."

Alice smiled and thanked her. Being given an umbrella and her groceries, she said goodbye to the woman and made her way back to the Tower. After getting an earful from Julius (something about 'I would've been better off letting Ace get the coffee if you took this long' and such) and making the coffee which had gotten a full 84 points, Alice made her way up to her room after saying goodnight to Nightmare and Gray on the way. The girl sighed and slipped out of her clothing and into the shower. Coming out moments later, she put on her nightgown and sat in bed with the small crystal box in hand.

Just as Pandora had a box bestowed upon her, this box makes up the internal conflict that man and woman fall prey to, if opened, all that is bottled up shall be poured out like a rush and nothing will be left but an empty shell left wandering the world on its own.

The woman's story replayed in her mind like a broken record as she tried to pry the case open but with no success. Feeling defeated, she placed it on the edge of the nightstand and turned out the lights. Snuggling into the covers she fell fast asleep. Unknown to the unconscious girl, the case fell from its position on the nightstand and to the floor. But instead of being in a million pieces as should be expected, the case's lid was slightly ajar. A mysterious mist slowly crept out of it as even the woman's story played in her mind. Feeling a tingling sensation run through her spine, Alice ignored the chill that covered the room. 'Just the winter air.'