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Choose Christmas Gifts Carefully- Joker no Kuni no Alice 0tppz1z
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Choose Christmas Gifts Carefully- Joker no Kuni no Alice

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default Choose Christmas Gifts Carefully- Joker no Kuni no Alice

Post by NuitNoire on 21/04/13, 02:54 am

Sorry that this got broken up weird; I originally wrote it in two parts. I'd had to include some notes and things like that too >.> And the setup suddenly turned out weird but this is so long it'd take forever to fix...

I just love this one... so I had to post it here.

Title: Choose Christmas Gifts Carefully
Summary: Picking a good gift for one's boss is harder
than one would think. Alice doesn't appreciate that he can find ways to
use them against her, even if they're something as harmless as mittens.
But Nightmare is good at ruining the best of plans.
Rating: Youth
Genre: Fluff, humor, friendship, implied romance

Spoiler:
"Nightmare! Would you do me the favor of shutting up for just one moment?!"The
head of the Clover Tower jumped when Alice shouted this, slamming her
hands down on his desk and glaring rather intensely at him. Nightmare
Gottschalk recovered in just a moment, however, to give her a
reproachful frown.
"You're so mean, Alice…"
"And you're so
annoying that I wonder how you think anyone can get their work done with
your whining about how cold it is. But that's not the point!" She
straightened, hands on her hips. "I have a present for you."
Nightmare blinked, and then paled- an astonishing feat for one with so pale a complexion already. "… Not more work…?"
Sighing,
Alice shook her head, a smile now growing on her face. "No, I mean a
real present," she replied as she reached for the basket over one arm.
"Since you were going on about Christmas the other day, I figured that
I'd be nice… so I baked you a treat."
"! Alice, you are… so very kind…!" Tears welled in the silver eye not hidden by his black eye patch; Alice was amused.
"I thought you were just saying that I was mean."
"Th- that's because- because you WERE being mean!"
"I
was being mean because you were whining like a baby about how cold it
is. And now that I have given you a gift, a very warm one I might add,
you have no reason to complain about the cold. Just open it, okay?" So
saying, she set the large basket she carried on his desk.
Nightmare
wasted no time in undoing the linen cloth Alice had tied it in,
happiness easily readable in his countenance at the sight of the
steaming walnut pie. "Ah! It smells delicious, _!"
"… You only get that on the condition that you share it with Gray and Julius. And that you keep working."
"Nnngggh-!"
"It's
still mostly yours, Nightmare. Oh, before I forget, look under the pie,
I also gave you a pair of gloves and a scarf. They should also help
keep you warm. So enjoy!"
"… I'd be happier if you hadn't planned this with Gray! You're just trying to get me to work!"
"Don't read my mind!"
"It
doesn't sound like he enjoyed his present," came Gray's voice from the
doorway, and, looking in his direction at the same time Nightmare did,
you saw that he carried a cloth bundle rather than a stack of papers.
Nightmare
twitched. "Sh-shut up, Gray! I'm very thankful for the presents! Even
if it means I have to work, I'll do my work for Alice's sake!"
"It would be nice if you could do your work under normal circumstances as well…"
"Shut up!" Nightmare's attention was attracted by the bundle that Gray held, and he paused. "Gray… that is…"
"What IS that?" Alice wanted to know, trying to get a better view. "Don't tell me it's another cat…?"
Gray didn't meet her eyes as he replied, "W-well…"
"…
At least this is the only one in the Clover Tower at this time. And at
least it's not a bunch of flying squirrels… in Julius' room…"
"And at least I'm not locked in there this time!"
"Master
Nightmare, this is actually a gift for you. Ah, not the cat, this
sweater." Unfolding the bundle he held and allowing the cat that had
been curled in it to jump to the floor, Gray held up a very warm-looking
sweater.
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Ignoring the fact that it's
now covered in cat hair- you couldn't have found a better place for the
cat, could you?- that may just be the best thing he'll get this year.
Aside from a good dose of the medicine that he refuses to take, at
least."
"Bite your tongue, Alice! Gray… thank you!"
'Well,
as long as you're warm and not so comfortable that you fall asleep,
that's all that we need to do to get you to work, right?'
Alice thought, knowing that Nightmare would hear.
He
didn't deign to reply, to her surprise, although from the way his eye
twitched, he did indeed catch that. "Finally, I can be warm!" Nightmare
cried, wasting no time in pulling on the sweater and throwing the scarf
around his neck. He also put the gloves on, but removed them on finding
that they made it hard to hold his pen.
"Ah, blessed warmth! I shall get to work immediately! … As soon as I have a piece of this pie…"
"I'll
cut it," Alice offered, as she had plates, forks, and a knife prepared
already. Nightmare was more than happy to take her up on that, although
his displeasure when she cut slices for Gray and Julius as well was
obvious.
"You don't have to take anything to that recluse
Clockmaker!" he protested as Alice headed for the door connecting the
two Towers. "He's fine on his own!"
"Maybe, but I'm taking it because I feel like it," Alice called over her shoulder.
"Taking a piece of MY pie?!"
"I told you, it was for sharing!"
At
that point, she was too far down the hallway to catch Nightmare's
reply, and so only sighed when his muffled shout followed her. 'Some days, I wonder how Gray can have put up with him for so long… no wait, I wonder that every day.'
Alice
only knocked twice on Julius' door before turning the handle and
entering. Expecting to find him hard at work as usual, she was
pleasantly surprised to find that he was sitting back in his chair and
sipping his coffee, eyes closed and glasses sitting on the work desk he
sat at.
"… Ah, Alice," the Clockmaker said as she walked in,
nodding once in her direction. Indifferent as always, he was; as Alice
was long since used to this, she just smiled.
"I brought some pie,
if you want a slice," she offered, holding out one of the two plates
you carried. "It's very sweet, I promise. Didn't you say a while back
that sweet things are best when you're tired?"
"I may have. Thank
you, I shall accept." Julius set down his coffee cup to take the plate
Alice offered. She sat down in the only other chair in the room that
didn't have a pile of something-or-other sitting on it already, making
herself comfortable to eat her own piece of pie.
There was silence for several comfortable minutes; then, "… Why are you still here?"
"Why are you asking me? Haven't you gotten used to me hanging around by now?"
"Perhaps,
but not during your work hours. I wouldn't have thought that you had
the time at this hour to take a break, unlike a certain dream demon
always thinks he does."
Ouch. That one got her, and even though
Julius was also on a break, he couldn't be blamed. "… I'm actually
trying to avoid said person's whining. In theory he's doing his work
properly for once, since he should be comfortable, but… well, with
Nightmare, who knows." Alice paused. "But you don't mind me being here."
"Don't say that like it's decided," muttered Julius, and Alice grinned.
"But it's true."
"…" He couldn't retort, not with his mouth full of pie that sticky.
₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪
As
she'd hoped, Alice later was reminded that a warm and comfortable
Nightmare did indeed work a lot harder than an unhappy and cold
Nightmare. The amusing part was that the cat Gray had rescued had, after
being fed, decided to curl up in Nightmare's lap as he worked; it was
less of a distraction for him than she'd have thought.
"If you
fall asleep like last time, we're waking you rather harshly," Alice told
him in a light tone as she gathered a stack of papers to move
elsewhere; Nightmare gave her a hurt look.
"I never mean to fall asleep. And you don't have to wake me harshly, you know!"
"Sometimes it's the only way. As long as you're not escaping into dreams, though."
"I wouldn't!"
"You would,"
corrected Gray as he placed yet another stack of paper on Nightmare's
desk. Neither the remark nor the addition to his workload went over well
with Nightmare.
"Gray! This is too much!" he complained, slamming his hands down on his desk as if it settled things.
Gray just raised an eyebrow and stared at Nightmare.
… It would have been more effective of a look if he hadn't actually been staring at the cat,
and in a decidedly dazed manner to boot. Nightmare's forceful action
had startled the cat, to which it let out a complaining meow.
Alice sighed. 'Listen,
Nightmare, we're giving you a lot here. You have a warm sweater- an
early Christmas gift- hot cocoa, a cat on your lap, and less work than
usual. Not to mention that you didn't even
taste your medicine in your cocoa this time-'
"You put medicine in my cocoa?!"
'Listen to me when I'm trying to get a point across!'
she yelled mentally while ignoring the question mark floating over
Gray's head. Sometimes talking to Nightmare in her head was more
effective than talking aloud. 'Today, at least, you have it made! So
why not use your good fortune to get ahead and maybe get a little REAL
free time for when you DON'T have it so well?'

"…" He didn't have a reply to that.
With
a satisfied nod, Alice turned away from the sulking dream demon to walk
to the door. "If that's settled, I'm going out for a while," she said
over her shoulder. Seeing Nightmare open his mouth, Alice added
pointedly while turning her head to look forward, "And believe it or
not, I'm actually on my break time, so you have no right to complain."
"Then take care of that pesky knight in the hallway before he breaks something," Nightmare threw back.
Alice stopped. "… Ace is lost trying to find Julius' room AGAIN?"
"What do you expect?"
"Nothing less from him… Fine, fine, I'll drag his directionally-challenged rear to Julius' room while I'm at it."
"Thank
you, Alice." This grateful thanks was from Gray rather than Nightmare,
who, muttering under his breath, had set to work once more. Then again,
everyone at the Tower of Clover knew how much Gray disliked Ace
"training" with him.
'There's a difference between people who want to do their work and those who have no work,' Alice thought with a mental sigh as she left the room. Then, in a moment of mischief, 'As well as those who keep skipping out on their work.'
"Oi! Alice!"
The
shout from behind her made her laugh, as she had intended for Nightmare
to catch that particular thought. Ah well, it should help to get him to
do a little more work.
Refocusing her attention ahead of her,
Alice kept an eye out for the red coat that would belong to Ace. Not a
minute later, she'd spotted him- after he saw her.
"Nice
to see you, Alice!" Ace greeted on catching up to her, trademark grin
wide as ever. "You always pop up in the most unexpected of places!"
She gave him a flat look. So said the one who'd literally stepped out of a closet after she passed it.
"Um,
yeah… Anyway, Ace, you're in the wrong part of the building. Julius'
room is two floors up and on the other side." Thank goodness she'd
caught him before he'd set up camp and a fire inside the Tower of Clover
again…
Of course Ace just laughed when Alice told him he wasn't
in the right place. "Oh, am I? Ahaha, I did get lost again! Can you give
me a hand then?"
"That's what I came to do…"
At least
"delivering" Ace to Julius wasn't the work of more than a few minutes,
during which time Alice decided that she was VERY GLAD that Julius was
around again; Ace had been a little too unhinged without his
"trainer" [1] around. Now she was free to do as she had originally
planned, which was to purchase a few things she hoped to use for other
Christmas gifts.
₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪ Ҥєдятϩ ₪
It
had been about two hours by the time Alice returned to the Tower of
Clover, by her reckoning; thankfully the time of day hadn't changed in
that time. 'Hopefully I won't get stopped for any reason by Nightmare before I put these things away,'
she thought as she arrived back at the Tower. It wasn't that more than
one thing she had purchased would be given or used to make a gift for
him, but he'd blackmailed her in the past about this sort of thing…
There
were few people about as she walked into the Tower once more, as most
people were inside trying to keep out of the cold. Not a surprise,
although right now it was sunny rather than cloudy, so at least the sun
provided a LITTLE warmth if one was standing in it. Silently, Alice
wished them luck, for in a world where the temperature was usually
perfect the indoor heating was so rarely used that it kept breaking.
She wasn't ten steps from the main entrance when, out of nowhere, a snowball hit her in the shoulder.
"?!
…" After starting initially, Alice very deliberately brushed the snow
off of her shoulder, looking around with narrowed eyes for the source of
the snowball. That had rather hurt; whoever had thrown it had a good
arm, so it probably hadn't been a child.
"Okay, wherever you are, come out right now!" she called. "I owe you a snowball!"

Silence. Of course. Anyone throwing a snowball with the intention of
not getting caught wasn't exactly going to reply to a challenge like
that.
Not that Alice was bothered by this. After around a minute
of getting nothing more than a few odd looks from people walking in and
out of the Tower, she gave up and turned again for the front doors-
Only to get hit once again, this time on the top of her head.
Now
Alice spun around in a full circle to look in all directions of the
source. "That's not funny!" she exclaimed, before stopping.
"The
top of her head"? Alice ran that thought through her mind a few times,
trying to fathom how a snowball had landed on the very top of her head,
unless it had been lobbed.
- Ah.
'That xxxx dream demon!' she swore in her head, incensed. [2] 'I'm going to hit him so hard-!' Why
he had decided to chuck snowballs at her from his office window was
beyond her, but it may well have been payback for… any number of things.
At least it explained why the snowballs had hit so hard.
Storming up to the Nightmare's office, Alice slammed open the door and stomped into the room. "Explain to me why you felt the need to toss snowballs at me?" she asked in a syrupy sweet voice to the not-so-startled Nightmare.
"Wha- what on earth are you talking about?" replied Nightmare, as if he were stuttering just from being caught off guard.
As
if. Alice knew him too well to tell when he was actually surprised and
when he was just having trouble coming up with a good reply. "You know
full well, oh great boss of mine. Why else would I have melting snow dripping from my hair?"
"Someone threw a snowball at you? For shame!"
"You're
not going to get out of it by feigning innocence and condemning this
imaginary other person whom you're implying tossed snow at me rather
than you!" That concerned expression Nightmare was wearing was just
adding fuel to Alice's ire.
Of course, he was getting worked up now too. "And you immediately blame me? There are dozens of people in this Tower, and-"
"And not one of them would throw a snowball me besides you," Alice interrupted.
"You never blame the Clockmaker for this kind of thing, always me!"
"Because it's always you! And the only person Julius ever does anything to would be you, especially when you deserve it!"
At
that point, while Nightmare spluttered his protests, something caught
Alice's eye, that being a pair of mittens that were fairly familiar to
her. She had bought them herself just a week ago, had given them to this
troublesome boss of hers even more recently… and right now they were
lying on the floor beside his desk, wet.
Without even thinking
about it Alice decided on her next course of action. As if nothing were
out of the ordinary, she walked over and picked up the mittens, reciting
the multiplication table in her head to avoid giving away her plan.
Nightmare's
expression betrayed his unease. "Hey, what are you thinking of…?
Multiplication…? Wh- what are you planning, Alice…? You only do this
when you're trying to keep your thoughts hi- higyaaaaa!"
His
scream was understandable, for, in a swift motion, Alice had grabbed his
collar and stuffed the wet and cold mittens down the back of his
jacket. Or at least tried to, because he managed to interfere soon
enough to keep them from properly getting shoved there.
But Alice
wasn't going to give up anytime soon. "Slacker! Jerk! Throwing snowballs
at me for no reason, you deserve to be shoved in a snowdrift yourself!"
"C-c-c-cold! Th-that's c-c-cold, Alice! S-s-stop it!"
"Not on your life!"
At
that point the door opened, Gray entering. "Master Nightmare, here are
some more-" He stopped, understandably caught off guard by the sight
that greeted him.
"G- Gray! Help me out here!" Nightmare wailed,
one arm flailing for help while he tried to fend Alice off with the
other, not doing a very good job of it. "She's trying to kill me!"
"A wet mitten won't kill anyone unless they're suffocated with it!"
"…"
Gray stepped back out the door and closed it again. He really didn't
want to know. And sometimes, it was best to just let Nightmare take what
was coming to him.
Particularly when it involved Alice.
[1]
In Ace's ending in Joker, Alice tells Julius he's her and Ace's
"trainer." Julius is just like, "Good gods…" xD I couldn't resist
putting this in there.

[2] No swear word or
inappropriate content word (too gruesome or not meant for the public) is
said. It's literally x'd out and you hear a —BEEEEP- in the games XD
It's in the manga too.

.: Choose Christmas Gifts Carefully ~ Part Two ~ :.
After
spending several time periods at work, it was always nice to kick back
and relax. Whether certain people would let Alice do so or not always
depended on those certain people's moods, and whether certain other
people could stop them from being a distraction or not.
She wasn't going to use names. It was unnecessary.
Although
the room she stayed in at the Clover Tower was technically a guest
room, Alice had used it for so long that it had become "her" room. It
had the same basic design as all the other rooms in the Clover Tower-
the same giant clovers painted on the ceiling, the same flooring, the
same windows with seats, the same drapery, etc.- but she had given this
room her own personal touch, adding decorations and moving a few things
around and such.
Alice lay now on her back on her bed, staring up
at the slanted ceiling over her head and pondering the day's events. It
had been her intention to get to her room without being noticed by a
certain mind-reading dream demon so that the contents of the bag she'd
carried wouldn't be found out, but it had turned out to be unnecessary.
He'd ticked her off so badly that she hadn't thought even once about the
bag until she'd returned to her room, despite that she had been
carrying the bag the entire time.
A sigh escaped her. This wasn't
something that was new to her; that didn't make it any more fun. One
could never expect the things that Nightmare pulled.
Still, Alice
had to admit that his antics weren't usually all that annoying, and at
times were even amusing. It was because of this that she could put up
with him and even respect him for what he could be and was. Smiling,
Alice shook her head to herself. To be honest, she could even say he was
a good friend.
… And then her smile slid off of her face. The
memory of her earlier trip to the town had resurfaced at these thoughts,
despite that she had wanted to forget. However, these things couldn't
be forgotten, especially because this wasn't the first time something
like this had happened. The last time had been during the one time she
had walked with Nightmare anywhere outside of the Tower, to the town.
The clench in Alice's chest, that unpleasant pulling of her heart- her heart- echoed the feeling she'd had at the time of the incident itself.
~)(~)(~)(~)(~
"I
could easily have come by myself," huffed Nightmare, who was more put
off that Alice had come with him than she had expected. "I'm great
enough that I don't need help buying this." [1][2]

Alice gave him a flat look. "Oh really? You didn't even remember your wallet- Gray had to give it to me."
"Th- that has nothing to do with this!"
"Sure,
whatever you say. Besides, you wouldn't even be here if I hadn't
suggested you do something yourself for once. And hinted that it's a
break from work. And convinced Gray to let us go. And-"

"All
right, all right, you have a right to come with me!" Nightmare waved
both hands as if that would stem her words, and Alice smiled. He really
couldn't argue with that logic after all.

As she had
expected, going anywhere with Nightmare was half chore, half fun
adventure. He made the easiest things difficult and the hardest things
enjoyable, just by being himself, which Alice supposed made everything
even out. At the very least, she was having an interesting time.

"… Demon…"
"… Where?"
"Over there…"
Alice blinked. What was this? Was she just imagining things, or were people really…?
"… It's the demon…"
"Why is he here?"
A
chill ran through her as she realized that, no, she wasn't just
imagining the whispers of everyone around her, whispers that all seemed
to be about her companion.

It would have been one thing, Alice thought, if the people had sounded admiring or curious. 'But no… they all sound afraid- downright terrified in some cases.'
"Do you think…?"
"The demon's here, what could he want…?"
Alice
glanced sidelong at Nightmare and was startled to see that he didn't
even seem to have noticed any of the whispers, frightened looks, glares,
or anything else. In fact, he was looking at a small display of cakes
in a window with no less or more than his usual enthusiasm, which, since
these were cakes, was quite a bit.

Suppressing a shudder, Alice whispered to him, "Hey, Nightmare…?"
"Ah,
there you are, Alice. Don't you think that Mont Blanc cake looks good?"
was Nightmare's immediate response as he looked in her direction with a
happy smile. "Of course, the strawberry shortcake does too…"

For several moments she couldn't even reply, too startled by this response. 'How does he ignore them?' she wondered.
"Pay them no mind, Alice," Nightmare said without looking away from the display case. "It's only natural."
Rather
than being annoyed that he'd read her mind, Alice just felt her
surprise grow. 'You say it's only natural? Are you really used to this?'

To that she received no answer.
~)(~)(~)(~)(~
Even
now Alice was unsettled by the revelation that most people feared
Nightmare. Why would anyone be afraid of someone so… childish? So
sickly? So gentle? Someone who was anything but frightening?
But
they'd called him "demon" rather than by his name. Was it because
Nightmare was an incubus, a dream demon, someone who wasn't a human or
an animal? [3] He preferred to keep people from having bad dreams than
giving them to people, and his ability to read minds was more annoying
than anything…
… But he had those abilities. Merely the fact that
he had those abilities would make him scary to those who didn't know
him, who had never seen him throw a tantrum because he was being
ignored, or whine about his work load, or sneak out of work, or just
generally give everyone working for him a hard time. Or had never had a
conversation with him when he was being mature and nice.
Nightmare
Gottschalk was not a scary person, Alice decided almost stubbornly, and
rolled over onto her side. He was unpredictable, true, but he was
gentle even to those who weren't so kind to him. Even in arguments he
wasn't violent.
(Arguments with Elliot March did not count. Both sides were usually at fault there.)
Once
again Alice felt a kind of pain in her heart. She was more different
from him than she was everyone else in this world, where the differences
were limited to clocks for hearts and occasional animal ears… and a
disregard for life…
Something that Nightmare didn't seem to have…
he had always seemed to respect life more, like Julius did, although in a
different way from the Clockmaker.
With these thoughts running through her head, Alice gave a long sigh, drifting off to sleep…
Only to open her eyes to see a familiar world of emptiness.
"… Nightmare, what now? Are you skipping on work again?"
He was floating behind her, and Alice could almost hear
him pull a face. "Of course not. I have an actual break now, I'll have
you know. I've been working for three time turns straight and I deserve a
break."
"Whatever you say. I'm not sticking up for you if you turn out to be just hiding from Gray yet again," Alice replied.
"I
promise you, I'm not." His presence was close, Alice looked up to see
the unmanageable dream demon hovering right behind her and leaning over
her head to look down at her. "Alice… I'm flattered that you think so
highly of me."
Now Alice felt her eyelid twitch. "What have I told
you about reading my mind at all, let alone when I'm IN MY ROOM AT
NIGHT? That's more inappropriate and more of an invasion of my privacy
than going through my underwear drawer." And to give him a mental smack,
she thought of an image of him doing just that.
As she'd expected, Nightmare went red, eyes wide as he shook his head hard. "I would never do that and you know that!"
"Then don't read my mind when I'm my room. You never know what I could be doing."
"W-well,
that's tru- DON'T THINK OF SUCH THINGS!" Now he had to turn away with a
face darker red than she had ever seen it. Just another example of how
this incubus wasn't an incubus from the stories- he was far too
innocent.
Alice smirked to herself and said, "Then don't read my mind."
Nightmare
was silent for several moments, and she began to think that he wasn't
going to answer her at all. Then, "… Does what people think of me really
bother you that much?"
"What?" It took Alice a few seconds to
catch that he was going back to the previous topic she'd barely touched
upon. "Hm, I suppose. It's true that I don't know you as well as Gray
does, but I like to think that I know you quite well, and I don't think
that you're a scary person. Really, how can you ignore what people say?"
"Because
there isn't anything I can do about it," was Nightmare's calm reply. He
drifted on his side past her to meet her gaze, his single visible eye
steady. "And there isn't anything anyone can do about it, either. I'm
used to it, since it's only natural that people be afraid of me."
"How
can you say that?" Alice burst out, half angry and half despondant.
"'It's only natural'? Simply because you're… not the same as everyone
else?"
"I told you when you first came to this world that all role
holders are feared by the general population," he answered, "and I'm a
role holder. I may be in charge of the Tower of Clover, the peaceful
faction in this country, but I'm still a role holer, just the same as
the Queen of Hearts or the Hatter or Gowland or Joker. What's more,
unlike Joker or Gowland, my job is not to entertain, and unlike all of
them, I'm not human."
Alice bit her lip. "But I'm different from everyone here as well."
"Ah,
but that is a special kind of difference. You're 'loved by everyone,'
Alice." Nightmare leaned close, but Alice didn't make a move to lean
away. "Just as I'm 'feared by everyone'."
"… Because you can read minds?"
"Exactly. Or rather, that is indeed a part of it."
"But the people of the Tower of Clover don't fear you. They respect you-"
"That's where you're wrong. There is not a single person in this country that doesn't fear me."
"… But what about the Gray?"
"Talk to him yourself. He won't be bothered by it and will tell you the truth."
Alice
's mouth moved, but no sound came out. It didn't occur to her to doubt
what she was being told. Even Gray was afraid of Nightmare, the boss he
never hesitated to scold and praise in the same breath? Whom he
respected yet would sometimes have to treat like a child? That was… that
was…
The gentle way Nightmare said her name was what caught
Alice's attention the most, and you refocused your gaze on him. He was
smiling, but it wasn't a happy smile; rather, it was warm and just a
little sad.
"I don't mind," he said kindly, putting a hand on her head. "But thank you. You're such a caring child."
'You're the one who's caring,'
Alice thought with a mental frown, forgetting for a moment he'd hear
even though she was used to her mind read by now. It was just something
that was too foreign for a person to really comprehend… and therein lay
yet another reason he may have been feared.
Nightmare chuckled. "It's all a matter of perspective."
"A matter of-?"
… And her eyes opened.
"Darn
him, he ran away again," she mumbled to herself, gaze fixing on the
brown ceiling over her head. "And what did that mean? 'A matter of
perspective'?"
Well, whatever. It was pointless to dwell over it
right now, because there was no way that Alice would be able to get
answers out of him until the next time she spoke in her dream- Nightmare
almost never talked about things from their dream conversations
anywhere outside of the dream world.
Besides, there was work to be
done. In the time that it took Alice to get dressed and ready for the
day time period, she'd planned out a schedule of what she would get done
at what time, hoping against hope that her unpredictable boss wouldn't
go and throw things off like he was so good at doing.

Unfortunately, that was exactly what he seemed to be planning on doing,
because as soon as Alice opened the door to his office and room, she
found that there was no one present at all.
All right then, time
to find Gray. Unlike when the world was just in the Country of Clover
and the weather was warm, now Nightmare wouldn't go running to town- it
was too cold. Thus, he had to be somewhere in the Tower of Clover, and
Alice could help Gray find the troublesome dream demon.
Ten
minutes of searching later yielded no results. She hadn't found
Nightmare, nor had she located Gray. Asking a few attendants hadn't been
successful either.
Come to think of it… She slowed her stride to
consider. There weren't very many people at all in the Clover Tower this
day time period, certainly far less than usual. Maybe Julius would know
why, although she doubted it. He wasn't interested in anything but his
own work… but one never knew. She might as well ask.
And here was
where the real oddity made itself known: Julius wasn't present in his
room. He did go out on occasion for work related purposes, or even,
although rarely, to purchase food or coffee beans; his absence at the
same time as the other role players in the Tower was what made this an
unusual, and indeed suspicious, event.
"What's going on?" Alice
mumbled to herself, picking up her pace as she strode through the Tower
hallways and noting as she did that the heating was broken again, which
explained why she was so cold. "Where is ev…?"
Just as she was
passing a window, movement outside caught her eye. She paused to take a
better look- and stared. It looked as if the entire Tower had gathered
outside at the front steps leading to the Tower, but she couldn't tell
exactly what they were doing.
'… I'm a little worried… but I'm also really curious,'
thought Alice as she eyed the crowd. Even from this distance she could
make out the three role players of the Tower of Clover, Julius with his
arms folded, Nightmare saying something to him while in an agitated
state, Gray trying to calm Nightmare down…
At least whatever they were doing they were keeping in character while doing. That was enough to help reassure her.
Minutes
later, Alice had joined the group, dressed appropriately for the
weather. "What is going on here?" she wanted to know. Since Julius was a
short distance apart from the more distracted other two, she'd decided
to pose the question to him first.
"Just another of Nightmare's
selfish ideas," was the Clockmaker's short reply. "At least this time
he's not insisting that other people make snow statues of him."
"Indeed… Then… why are YOU out here?"
"…" The dark silence that was the reply told Alice that she'd rather not know.
Stifling
a sigh, she decided to leave Julius to his black cloud of brooding,
instead turning her attention to the apparent cause of all the trouble.
Said cause was, surprisingly, not complaining about the cold; judging by
the scarf, hat, and mittens he wore, he was more prepared for the
freezing weather than usual.
… The cat he held probably also helped keep him warm.
"Oho, you've come to join us last, Alice!" Nightmare exclaimed on seeing her. "I was expecting you a while ago!"
"Not
everyone knows everything that goes on around here," was her dry
response, "and you're the only one who knows what goes on in anyone
else's head. So what the heck is going on here?"
Nightmare smiled
and swept the arm that he wasn't holding the cat with in an arc that
encompassed the area in front of the Clover Tower walls. "Exactly what
you see!" he proclaimed. Following the motion, Alice noted that there
were a half dozen or so small groups building what looked like snow
statues of some sort… Snow statues…
Her eye twitched. "Nightmare… I thought it was already agreed that a Snow Festival is not an essential part of winter?"
"But all the other seasons are celebrating some sort of holiday! Besides, this is good for our reputation!"
"What about Christmas? You were talking about that the other day."
"Well of course we have to celebrate that too! But this is an event that people from other seasons can enjoy as well!"
"…
Your logic never fails to astound me." With yet another sigh, Alice
rubbed her hands together to warm them up, shaking her head. "I suppose I
should be relieved that you're not making Julius or Gray build snow
statues of YOU or something ridiculous like that."
That comment
made Nightmare wince, to her surprise. "I must correct you there, Alice.
Julius is one thing and I admit would probably do an excellent job; on
the other hand, Gray would NOT. I will not let Gray make anything that
is supposed to look like me."
"Ah." Considering that Nightmare's
aide had as much talent with art as he did with cooking- which is to
say, none at all- this was probably a good idea.
This still didn't
explain why most of the Tower employees were outside building snow
statues instead of inside working. At this point Alice wasn't sure she
even wanted to know, and resigned herself to just accepting this. Such a
thing seemed to happen a lot…
Judging by the laughter from so
many of the faceless employees, they were enjoying themselves more than
Alice had bargained. A smile tugged at her lips at this realization;
they always did their best at work and deserved a break every once in a
while.
Still, it was pretty cold out… and something hot to drink
sounded really good right now… So… "Hey, Gray; let's go make hot
chocolate for everyone."
"Excellent idea, Alice!" Nightmare called
over his shoulder from a good dozen meters away, even before Gray had
replied. "It's a good way to both warm everyone up and keep Gray from
ruining everything!"
"Nightmare-sama…" Gray looked quite put out, while Alice frowned at the dream demon.
"Nightmare,
you do not deserve the respect you get." She scooped up a handful of
snow and jogged closer to Nightmare, packing the snow as she did. In a
swift motion, Alice hurled the snowball at the back of his head, where
it connected and almost knocked him over, during which time she spun
around and raced up the steps to the Tower of Clover, trying not to let
her grin get too big.
He had so deserved that one.
~0~ ~0~ ~0~ ~0~ ~0~
Approximately
a half hour later found Alice offering hot chocolate to one of the
Tower of Clover employees who were outside. He accepted the sweet, hot
drinkshe was offering, returning her smile with another.
"Thank you; something hot like this is appreciated," he told Alice gratefully.
Her smile widened as she nodded. "I'm glad you appreciate it."
"What about me?" a very recognizable voice asked from behind her, more than a little plaintive.
Not losing her smile, she turned around to say, "What about you?"
"You're horrible, Alice!"
"Yes,
yes, I know I am. Don't worry, you get some as well." So saying, she
held out yet another cup from the tray of cups of hot cocoa that she was
passing out.
Nightmare's happy reaction made Alice roll her eyes
but smile. Sometimes it was hard to believe he was her boss, even though
he definitely could act like it at times, especially when he was being
selfish.
When Nightmare almost choked on his drink and glared at
her, Alice gave a mental wince. "I don't mean any offense by that," she
sighed, adding under her breath, "Although it's true…"
"Why am I
never respected, even though I'm the boss?" Nightmare complained. "I
deserve more respect than I get! You shouldn't treat me like this,
throwing snowballs at me and insulting me and everything else! Why don't
I get any respect?!"
"That's because you whine like a spoiled
child," said Julius from nearby in a voice that was colder than the snow
that blanketed the scene. Of course he'd had to insert his unnecessary
thoughts… "If you would shut up for once and do your work properly
instead of always slacking off…"
"~~~! No one asked for your opinion, Clockmaker!"
"It sounded to me as though you were asking a question, and so I answered it."
"Th-that was- geh! Who's a weak and pathetic Caterpillar?!" [4]
"Stop reading my mind, you're nothing but annoying." So saying, Julius turned his back on Nightmare in an obvious insult.
Alice shook her head, unsurprised by all this; it was nothing new, after.
However, she was
given a shock by what happened next. Nightmare, glaring at Julius'
back, looked for a moment as though he were going to retort back.
Instead, he turned on his heel and took a few steps away.
Alice
was about to mentally praise him for not continuing an argument FOR ONCE
when her mind-reading boss scooped up a handful of snow and packed it
into a firm ball. At that point her eyes went wide.
"H-hey, Nightmare, don't-!"
Too
late. Nightmare had pulled back his arm and flung the ball of snow in
Julius' direction. Either he was a better aim that Alice had expected or
he was cheating with his mysterious demon powers, because the snowball
connected soundly between Julius' shoulder blades, splattering
everywhere.
The Clockmaker stumbled forward a few steps, caught
off guard as she'd predicted. He reached over his shoulder to the spot
where the snow had hit as if checking to make sure he was uninjured, or
perhaps that it was just snow, before pivoting slowly around to glare at
the culprit.
"You stupid Caterpillar…" Julius' glare was far colder than the air, but it didn't seem to faze Nightmare.
"Well now, don't you seem angry, Clockmaker."
"Perhaps
that would be a good definition of things…" Alice noticed that Julius'
hands had tightened into fists and could only imagine what he was
thinking right now. "Or perhaps a better definition of things would be
that I am more of a mood to kill you."
… Crap, you knew
this would happen… Almost as soon as he'd said that, Julius had grabbed
a double handful of snow and packed it down hard, pitching it full
speed at Nightmare and only missing because the other dodged.
"Hold
still, damn it," shouted Julius, who'd already swept up another handful
of snow to throw in Nightmare's direction. "I've had it with your
whining and stupid ideas and ridiculous stunts and everything!"
Normally
Nightmare would have protested that the things he did were neither
stupid nor ridiculous. Today it seemed he was unbothered by both the
insults and the snowballs that narrowly missed him, and was in fact
amused by them, because he was laughing.
"Oh lighten up, Julius,
and get a sense of humor!" called Nightmare over his shoulder as he ran
in the opposite direction, dodging flying balls of snow. Of course that
didn't do any good; Julius ran after with clear intentions of shoving
Nightmare headfirst into a snow bank.
Meanwhile, Alice had been
watching in silence as Julius chased after Nightmare, throwing snowballs
at the very amused dream demon. As Gray had his back turned and hadn't
yet noticed this, she figured it was up to her to stop things before
someone got hurt, whether by design or by slipping on ice.
"All
right, I think that this has gone far enough," she said in a loud voice,
heading in their direction. "Anything more is probably going to result
in complete chaos, so how about you both stop and- !?"
Her words were very quickly silenced when one of Julius' snowballs missed and connected with her forehead, hard.
Both
men skidded to a stop, literally, as they were in a particularly icy
spot, and stared in shock at her. Alice was also frozen in place, the
offending snowball now at her feet where it had fallen.
Lifting a hand, she pressed it to the red mark that that already formed on her forehead. "… That hurt," she said, voice both disbelieving and dangerous. "Julius…"
"Ah,
um-" He seemed at quite a loss for words now, which had Nightmare
snickering… at least until Alice turned her intensifying glare on him as
well. All laughter ceased.
The ensuing chaos was, of course,
blamed on Nightmare, even it had been thanks to Alice that things
spiraled out of control. When she got several of the employees to assist
her in tossing snowballs at Julius and Nightmare, said employees also
started throwing snowballs at one another in fun, and all the others had
joined in as well. Within ten minutes, only Gray and one other
assistant were not participating, and the latter only because he had his
hands full of paper.
After hitting Julius with a few snowballs,
Alice had left him alone to exchange snowballs with a group employees,
all of whom were in it more as a game than anything. On the other hand,
Julius was particularly keen on nailing Nightmare even just once,
something that Nightmare wasn't making easy for him by dodging every
throw.
"Stupid Caterpillar, stand still and stop reading my mind!" Julius barked more than once.
"I don't intend to get hit by your snowballs, so that's a 'no'!" was Nightmare's reply.
To
be honest, this little show was quite entertaining. Seeing Julius this
worked up was rare, and Alice had been wondering if he'd ever get to the
point where he actually retaliated back at Nightmare with something
other than words. Plus, Nightmare would deserve whatever he got; she
wasn'tgoing to help him out unless he got himself into some real
trouble, which Gray seemed to agree with, as he was just sighing in
resignation.
Throwing snowballs at other people like this was
something Alice hadn't done in years, and when they were having as much
fun as this and weren't aiming for her head on purpose, it was a lot of
fun for her as well. She could even let her guard down and laugh as if
she didn't have a care in the wo-
And that was when her hand was
snagged and she was almost pulled off her feet by a person running past
her. "Come on Alice, the Clockmaker's getting indiscriminate about whom
he hits!" Nightmare called over his shoulder as he half dragged Alice
after him. Times like this, she had to wonder how someone with such a
weak body could have bursts of such strength.
"H-hey, don't get me
wound up in your problems again!" Alice yelled. "And you'd better not
be using me as a shield of sorts from Julius' snowballs!"
"Would I really do something like that?!"
"YES!"
"Well I'm not! Come on, save your breath and just run! But watch out for ice!"
For
the dozenth time that day turn Alice wanted to sigh. There was quite a
talking-to in store for her slacker boss, but now wasn't the time. For
now… for now…
… For now, she'd just enjoy the moment. "Okay!" she replied, laughing as she raced after and along with Nightmare.
No matter what anyone else thought of him, Alice wasn't scared of this man.
~0~ ~0~ ~0~ ~0~ ~0~
[1]
Nightmare has a "catchphrase" of sorts, that being, "Because I'm so
great" or other variants of calling himself great., which he uses when
he wants other people to respect him; it generally has the opposite
effect. It's a total "ore-sama" line with the use of "watashi," if you
know what I mean.
[2] What are they buying? It doesn't matter. I like
to think they went to get cakes, since Nightmare has such a sweet
tooth. You can decide whatever you like.
[3] This is Wonderland. It's
not an insult to call someone an animal, as long as they ARE a rabbit
or cat or mouse or other such animal.
[4] Direct quote from Joker,
Nightmare's first event. Julius was annoyed that Nightmare was trying to
make him make a snow sculpture of Nightmare, and started ignoring
Nightmare's whining, at least until this thought.

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default Re: Choose Christmas Gifts Carefully- Joker no Kuni no Alice

Post by Aiwethryne on 22/01/14, 07:52 am

So I'm guessing this was written in Notepad or something, and you had changed between having the Word Wrap on and off? Yeah, it really does take a while to fix after you've saved and not realized it happened.

Anyway, ahaaa. That was amusing in places. Gotta love intended comical censorship. And, yeah, the whole "ore-sama" attitude was presented quite accurately.

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