One Heart Deal

Story: TekoloKuautli

Characters and Setting: Quinrose


Step 1

Make a Valid Offer

Communication, commitment, and defined terms

~X~

I used to think of the diluted blood of the dragon race in my veins as nothing but trouble.

It would not have been so bad if I were a little closer to the creatures, at least then I would be able to do cooler stuff that actually was worth the nuisance. It has given me discrimination, slave traders, wanna-be-slayers, paranoid crazy people, plain crazy people that want to blame every problem of their lives on the dragon family (the crops are withering? It was the dragon family. The cattle is sick and dying? It was the dragon family. My wife left me? It was the dragon family and so on so forth), and worst of all: the few powers I possess are uncontrollable.

The one up of my heritage was that even if my control was poor at best, it was enough to gain, if not respect, then fear from the neighborhood. Any troublemakers would find themselves in a bind for messing with us. Still, people can be cruel even without resorting to violence and few would try to approach us, apart from the greedy leeches that know of our wealth that is (dragon riches from our ancestors so, yeah).

It was not so bad in retrospective I guess. I had my family and my Sister. Also Charles but…. After I accidentally burned my boyfr- ex boyfriend, I have been unable to control my fire power abilities and became a pariah, literally untouchable by anyone not fire-proof. So only my family can touch me. Whoopi.

After my kidna- I mean, coming to Wonderland, people were nicer to me, they still point their weapons at my face but hey, now it's not out of spite and even after they invite me to a cup of tea.

But! That's beside the point. The point is that one of the rituals I long thought useless, passed down the dragon lineage, could be used right here and now. For Ace.

I would offer him a half of my heart.

I took a deep breath.

"Ace." My voice resonated over the campfire, strong and firm.

"Mmm?" his smile was still in place as he looked me in the eye "What is it, Alice?"

"There is something important I want to ask you." First you have to know this is what he wants.

"Really? Isn't every conversation we have ever had important?" he asked cheekily.

"No, you always take everything as a joke."

"A joke? How so? Every word that comes from my mouth to you is serious~ it's mean to underestimate me like that." He pouted cutely while smiling still. Wait, not cute, not cute at all. Keep your mind out of the gutter, Alice, that's why the man keeps taking advantage of you.

"Just the other time you were talking about the kind of underwear I preferred with Boris…" I muttered frowning and feeling heat on my cheeks over the vulgar turn of the conversation.

"That you preferred tongs over panties? Haha that silly kitty cat! Of course you like lacy panties; you even fold them at the back of your middle drawer." Ace's smile was sunny. My jaw slackened.

"…"

"…"

"… You have been snooping into my drawers?!" he raised his hands defensively.

"Only to see what it was that Mister Peter was holding there so intensely. Innocent, I swear. I was looking for my room but when I entered I saw him kneeling, breathing hard and very distracted, so I approached and…"

"Enough!" My face was burning, I'm sure it resembled one of Blood's roses from his private gardens.

What was worse was that he was obviously enjoying my distress.

"So, have you ever worn something else aside of panties?" he waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"Urgh Just- stop talking!"

"Why? It's a very serious question. That way I know what to get you for your unbirthday." I growled. I don't know what he wants to accomplish from this other than embarrass me to death, it's not like he can touch me without me burning him. That sobered me up, making me remember my initial mission.

I took another deep breath.

"Ace," my serious tone catching his unwavering attention for the moment "Do you want to be free of your Role?" The man whose composure have been unbreakable since the moment I met him narrowed his eyes dangerously at me with tightly clenched fists, knuckles white. His wine red eyes seemed to glint and dance at the light of the fire like burning embers; from fury or longing I couldn't tell but I felt the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand on end.

On the back of my mind I calculated if breaking into a sprint would save my life on time, I may have some special abilities but even a full dragon would have trouble in a fight with him.

The Knight observed me closely making me feel small, but I held his stare. This was something I knew he wished for more than anything else in the world… and somehow I understood that if he knew of a way out he would take it, at any cost.

Even if it meant killing me.

Once I tell Ace of this possibility I know he would do anything to make me do this. I know he doesn't love me… he would use me for his convenience as he has done for his sick amusement until now. A ripping and hot kind of pain stabbed my chest, clenched my throat and made my eyes sting, but I controlled it. Not yet.

The silence grew and with it the tension rose, the only sounds were the cracking of the fire and our breaths. Looking into his captivating eyes I wondered how I could be so unfortunate as to fall for such a man. In a sense he was more of a dragon than I could ever be: wild, dangerous, powerful, cunning and unattached to anything; the invisible chains that bound him angered him to no end and he took his fury out on anything and everything he came into contact with. Even himself.

I fell for him without noticing it at first, why else would I follow him into the woods every time. Being lost, dirty and hungry in the dark with a psycho was never fun but… little by little it was, if only to see him smile. When did his grins made my heart skip so? Since when could I tell his real laugh from the fake? Those brief moments he expressed sincerity were my downfall. Just for his childish amusement would I let him tease me to the point of annoyance, did he notice my stupid stare when I got lost looking at his face as he laughed at my expense?

Who knows?

Only he knows that and I have never been able to tell what's on his head, even right now as he drills a hole on my face with his eyes I can't tell.

Suddenly, his brow relaxes over, eyes hide all its intensity as if it never happened and he smiles. One of those empty humorless smiles that make my skin crawl, the same one he had when he pointed his shotgun at me.

"Well, isn´t Alice bold today? I wonder why the change" he's prodding, I can tell. He knows I know of his greatest yearning and is asking me why I'm confronting him so directly… and foolishly. I take a deep breath and prepare to doom myself. Maybe this wasn't so great an idea after all, should I pass this on as a joke and run away? There is still time to back away.

No. I will do this.

"What if I told you there was a way?" there. It's out… I want to cry…

Ace who until now kept his reactions hidden widened his eyes, mouth opened slightly, it was clear that whatever he expected to hear was anything but that. Briefly I detected a slight glimmer of hope. But just as fast as it came it was gone. My heart that had been pounding wildly since the beginning of the conversation jumped to my throat when I was confronted with the terrifying picture of his unbridled fury. I wondered as I shivered with fear if he would let me explain before cutting me down with his sword.

"Explain." His voice was low and rough and my shaking got worse, even if I wanted I couldn't look away from his blazing red stare.

"I-I d-do-don't" I cleared my throat even as it felt parched "I don't know if it would work…" he waited for me to continue, I took another breath to gather more courage "but I think it just may, just that I doubt anyone else have ever tried it before".

"Which is…?" his ire had retracted to the confines of his soul where I couldn't see it and it made it both easier and harder to carry on.

"… I would give you a half of my own heart." This trailed out as a shaky breath and a part of me wished for him not to hear it.

Unable to look at him anymore I looked down to inspect my lap. I don't know how long I stayed like that, straining my hearing to gauge his reaction. But Ace seemed to have turned into a statue, just a breathing one. Even a child would know this to be a confession.

His clothes rustled as I heard him stand up, dust himself off and walk around the campfire to where I was sitting with my legs tucked close to my side. When I didn't look up for quite a few fast heartbeats I felt him kneel in front of me and, without warning push me back against the floor. My face felt horribly hot, reaching my neck and ears when his face loomed inches from mine, Ace was straddling my body and before I knew it had my wrists enveloped by a gloved hand in a firm grip over my head.

"Really?" he asked with another empty smile that made me alert enough to ignore the suggestive position we were in, "A half of your heart? I didn't know a Foreigner's heart could be given away…" I felt a cold chill travel down my spine.

"Because normally it's impossible." I felt the sudden urge to correct him fast. There was fear that clogged my mind and a burning pain that twisted the knife inside my chest in slow agony. Would he really be so selfish as to ask for me to give him my whole heart for his own freedom? I was more afraid of the answer to that than anything else in my whole life. I drowned that thought process by focusing on the conversation "It's possible for me because I'm a dragon descendant".

The red clad Knight inspected my face as if searching for a crack. Then, his face turned cold. It reminded me of the look Elliot had whenever he looked at Joker.

"Ah yes, Alice descends from dragons, but what does Alice wants…?" the question confounded me and I'm pretty sure my face expressed it. Ace frowned and after a while sighed "What is the price?" still he observed the minute changes of my face.

My perplexity turned to anger when I understood what he was asking.

"Who do you think I am?" I growled "if this has a negative effect on anyone it would be me!" the man had the audacity to look shocked but frowned again. Over the haze of mixing emotions I idly thought that this must be the first time I ever saw Ace so serious, he didn't look like himself at all.

"Really?" this time the tone of his voice was dripping sarcasm "You would offer your most important possession, even risk your own freedom, for me?" his eyes were still very cold and his mouth had a twisted grin. On the wine red color of his orbs shined his usually well tamed insanity. I flinched when I felt he might lose control over his murderous crazy side now of all times.

"I believe it's worth the risk." I hurried my answer, unwavering as it came straight from my soul. But it didn't appear to shake the man's bloody mind.

"Since it still would be your heart then wouldn't that mean I'd be at your beck and call?" For the first time since the day I met Ace, his face had a twisted grimace, deep rooted hatred for the world to see and a humorless cold laugh resonated around us. It made me want to cry hearing such a heartbreakingly painful sound. It was the laugher of a man whose mind was at the point of breaking down.

I tried to break free of his grip to envelop the man I fell in love with close to me. It was an unconscious response to his pain, to hug his ache away. But it must have seemed different to Ace for he snapped out of it sharply, his hand tightened around my wrists in a death grip and I flinched. His other hand whose whereabouts had been unknown to me since we adopted this position went to the place above my heart and the palm covered the area as the knight concentrated on the feeling, it was strong and fast. The look on his eyes could only be passed as longing. Another agonic stab made itself present on my chest. He only ever saw my heart.

But I didn't give in, I gritted my teeth and looked straight at his eyes to recapture his attention.

"Since I would give a half of it to you we would be connected and our lives would be linked as well. Despite being separated, if one part dies the other will follow. Apart from that it would not affect either of us." I tried to convey my sincerity with my eyes and voice, for once trying to hide absolutely nothing from him "Even if we were at great distances of each other it would not affect our will or personalities. That is what I know of this."

Ace remained still, just observing me without a word. His already close face descended closer as if to kiss me but only hovered, making my heart jump again under his palm. If he felt that he didn't show it.

"And the risks?" his breath ghosted over my face, warm and masculine scent entered my mind and clouded it briefly.

"… I'm not sure if your Role resides in your clock. If it doesn't you would have a half of a heart but still not be able to escape; then it may not work at all because your body may be incompatible since we are from different worlds and if the ritual fails the two of us might die." Ace's expression turned contemplative for a while.

Suddenly his soft brunet hair brushed my left cheek as he lowered his head to the side of my neck. His breath heated my skin as he seemed to breathe in and out my scent, his soft locks of messy hair tickled my skin. He smelled woodsy and masculine, it made me want to squirm against him. But wisely held back as best I could by concentrating on his mop of brown hair and the rise and fall caused by his even breathing.

The moment was something I had yearned for since I realized I loved Ace but kept my distance for my own safety. He was so perverted I doubted my virtue would be safe should he discover my feelings for him, not that I didn't want him or anything but… he didn't love me at all.

For a long time we stayed like that, neither of us moving and I secretly never wanted to.

"… whe…-do…-…ign…" I heard him mutter something. But it was so low I didn't catch it.

"What?"

Ace raised his head and looked at me with an open and bright smile, one of his sincere ones that took my breath away and made me stop to just look.

"Where do I sign, Alice?" at first I was too stupefied but when I got it my surprise was unmasked.

"Wha- you will- Do you really want to do it?" his youthful smile was unwavering and I seemed to detect something else in his eyes but just when Ace was about to speak again another voice interrupted. A deep and reproving one.

"Whatever it is that you want to do, would you mind doing in your bedroom and not on the hallway?" Julius voice was tinted with embarrassment over his highly reproaching tone "And how many times have I told you to stop mounting your camp inside the tower, Ace? If you want to sleep, there are spare bedrooms for that".

Ah, I kind of forgot that Ace had built his campfire and tent in the middle of the hallway of the Clock Tower. What a sight we must make, with the fire, tent and Ace straddling me to the stone floor in way too suggestive a manner and Julius standing over us with his arms crossed and an embarrassed face obviously wanting to look at anywhere but us… what he first said and what he must have heard made my face shot up in heat. I was sure the color would put the red of the Castle of Hearts to shame.

"Ahahahaha! But I love to camp and even Alice is fond of that too. It's not fun if we can't do it anywhere we want after all~." Ace's seemingly innocent smile was brighter than usual and I had the bad feeling it would encourage his teasing side worse. I know I said I didn't mind it much as long as it made him happy but… in front of Julius?

As expected the Clockmaker seemed to choke with his own spit.

"Have a little shame will you, Ace?" I don't know who was sporting the worse shade of red on our skins out of the both of us, but it sure was a contrasting color against Julius's frowning face.

"Hahaha! Come on, Jules, I'm sure Alice wouldn't mind if you join us." His grin was unwavering as my head shot up at him. The older man was groaning against his hand and he seemed so mortified he couldn't seem to look at us in the eyes.

I had had enough and tried to break free of the Knight's hold.

"Let go, Ace!" my voice sounded high pitched. But the bloody man kept me in place, even placing some of his weigh so I could not squeeze out.

"Aww Is Alice suddenly embarrassed by Julius's presence? Even after saying all those perverted things before~"

"Wha-nev-I didn't-"

"I have work to do…. Just… go to your bedroom and, take all this down." the Clockmaker finally muttered while gesturing to the campfire and tent and, red faced, he briskly walked away to his study. I was too shocked to do anything but watch him with a gaping mouth as he disappeared. But it was clearly heard through the whole tower how he slammed the door to his study.

"What was that for?" finally I snapped at the still smiling Knight who seemed unaffected.

Ace lowered his head again to my neck and breathed in deeply.

"Would you have been able to explain about this ritual thing to him?" he asked calmly.

Though embarrassed out of my wits still, I knew that if I explained this to Julius he would try to stop me. Saying how risky it was or maybe he would try to stop us because of the Rules.

My silence must have been answer enough for him because Ace continued, the hand on my chest had traveled to the curve of my waist making me jump a little.

"So…where do I sign?" he repeated with a smile and something I never thought I'd ever see so clear on his eyes. Hope.

~X~


Hello! This is my first HnKnA fanfic story and had been working on it for a while on my notebook as little snipets.

Ace is one of my favorite characters but he is so complex and hard to understand, even he doesn't understand himself! The poor guy is so lost but at least tries to enjoy the journey if nothing else. I'd ramble about him for ages and still have something to say but whatever. On this setting I wanted to give him what he has always wanted: freedom. How would he react to being suddenly cut loose? Could he handle freedom? Understand it at least? What about his evolution as a person, friend and lover? But just waving a wand and saying bibidi babidi bu~ you're free! would be too boring, so! I wondered and got the amusing idea from watching the movie Dragonheart, I bet you can understand the rest haha

On another note I would like it a lot if you could give me constructive feedback, about their personalities being OC (which I would like to avoid), grammar mistakes, conversation and plot development. Suggestions are also very welcome if there are things you would like to read as a scene if the plot permits it hehe

~TekoloKuautli~