Disclaimer: All Quinrose and Lewis Carrol, I just play with them
Summary: [Clover, Gray / Alice, Julius / Alice] Clover Tower is vast, magnificent... and horribly lonely.
Author's Notes: Atlantic -> Ocean -> Distance. Because my brain is weird like that.
It had taken Alice a good, long while to find the kitchens inside the the maze of hallways that was Clover Tower. And it had taken longer still for her to make sense of the seemingly endless mess of cabinets. But, sitting on an abandoned counter top with a mug of freshly brewed coffee in her hands, Alice decided that her nighttime detour had been well worth the trouble.
She closed her eyes happily, breathing in the rich aroma of coffee that filled the air around her.
If it weren't for the almost deathly hush of silence that hung heavily in the air, she could almost imagine that she was back with Julius amongst the never-ending ticking of the Clock Tower.
Started out of her thoughts, Alice jumped in surprise and would have toppled from her spot on the counter if it hadn't been for the hand that reached quickly out to steady her.
“G-Gray?” Her voice came out as a squeak.
“Sorry.” He apologized, making sure she was stable before politely removing his hand. Balanced on his opposite arm, he held a tray of dirty dishes. “I didn't mean to startle you. Are you alright?”
“Yes, thank you.” She took a calming breath, trying to steady the pounding of her heart before narrowing her eyes slightly. Her gaze flicked curiously towards the kitchens' entryway. “Where did you come in from anyway?”
“Staff entrance.” Gray tilted his head towards a door she hadn't noticed. “There's hidden doors and stairways all through Clover Tower in order to facilitate larger events, but most of us just use them as short cuts.”
“More doors.” She muttered softly. How wonderful.
“Nightmare-sama has a particularly excellent working grasp of the tunnels as he has a tendency to use them when avoiding his work.” Gray turned around nonchalantly, carrying his tray to a nearby sink and flipping on the faucet as he spoke. “So you might ask him to give you a tour.”
Alice gave a small giggle despite herself
“I still don't think I've quite gotten used to seeing Nightmare outside my dreams yet.” Gaze dropping down to her cup, Alice swept a finger along the rim. “It's been rather interesting meeting him in person.”
“He's quite happy to have you here with us.” Gray told her congenially. Long overcoat neatly set aside and sleeves rolled neatly up, he proceeded to wash the handful of dishes he'd brought in. Rinsing, drying, and setting them amid the larger stacks waiting to be put away, he glanced over his shoulder at Alice. “I was rather pleased as well, to finally be able to meet the person he spoke so highly of.”
Flushing lightly at the compliment, Alice forgot herself and took a quick sip of the coffee she held in an attempt to disguise her embarrassment. Only to wince, her nose crinkling in distaste at the bitterness.
Gray cocked a brow curiously.
“I don't normally drink coffee but-” She stopped herself, suddenly feeling incredibly childish.
Amber eyes regarded her solemnly for a long moment.
“I take it the Clockmaker likes it?”
She gave a tiny nod, hands tightening around her mug.
Gray turned back around. An uncomfortable silence stretching awkwardly between them before finally being broken by the quiet rattle of cupboards being opened and shut.
“I'm not the best cook.” Gray admitted carefully, setting a sauce pan on the counter top. “However, I can manage a fairly decent cup of cocoa.”
He offered a wry grin as Alice looked on, uncomprehending.
“Not that cocoa is really the best choice to help you fall asleep.” He added quickly. “But it's easy enough to make two servings instead of just one if you don't mind the company.”
Alice glanced down at her coffee before looking back up, a slow smile crept its way across her lips.
“I think,” she started softly. “I'd love to try some cocoa.”