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[personal profile] stormymood posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [personal profile] koi_choshi 


Title: Aiba in Wonderland
Pairing: Aiba Masaki/Matsumoto Jun, Aimiya friendship, all Arashi members have a role in the story
Rating/Warnings: NC-17 – kind of
Summary: When Aiba wakes up in Wonderland, he isn’t sure if he is just dreaming or if this is really happening to him. And when the Cheshire Cat asks him for help to save Wonderland, he starts his trip…
Notes: Dear [personal profile] koi_choshi , I really did my best with your fairytale prompt. Though it’s not a real retelling of Alice in Wonderland I still hope you’ll like it. <3 Thanks to my precious beta K.


Aiba rubbed his face. How the hell did he get here? The last thing he knew was that he went to bed last night. The room in which he had woken up now was dark and everything seemed so… big? Aiba moaned when he sat up. Gosh, did he fell on his back? Every bone in his body hurt and he felt a terrible headache approaching. Aiba stood up and held onto a tree trunk next to him. Aiba looked up. He shrieked when he saw that it was a chair – just that the chair was almost three meters tall. Or was Aiba so small? No, that would be ridiculous. Such things didn’t happen.

Where was he? Aiba looked around. There was a big door on the other side of the room. But should he really try getting out of here? He would never be able to open the door on his own, because it was at least three times taller than he himself was.

Aiba rubbed his forehead and looked at his fingers. Was he bleeding? Oh, he probably had fallen down to the ground and was dreaming now? Yes, that had to be the reason for this strange room he was in right now. He was asleep, or maybe in a coma? Or worse? Aiba panicked a little bit.

“It’s nice here, isn’t it?” He heard a voice from up a table. Aiba stretched his body, but he wasn’t able to see who was talking to him. The table was far too tall to see everything on it.

“Who are you?” Aiba asked bravely. Most times, he was the coward among his friends… but now he could really need some help to get out of here – or maybe to wake up.

Aiba looked up and saw a young guy staring down at him. Aiba blinked. The guy had small puffy cat ears and Aiba could see a tail wiggling above his head. The other parts Aiba could see where definitely human. “What are you?” Aiba asked again, when he didn't get answer. This whole thing was getting stranger and stranger.

The guy swiftly jumped down and stood next to him. The cat was much taller than Aiba. He wore short dungarees and a yellow shirt underneath them. His pants had a hole through which his tail swung left and right. His ears moved a tiny bit, like he was about to hear something interesting. “I am the Cheshire Cat – but most of the guys here call me Nino.”

“Cheshire Cat?” Aiba blinked. “Wait a moment. Like the one in Alice in Wonderland?”

The cat-guy grinned. “Oh, yes, Alice. She was here, but we weren’t happy with her beyond measure.”

She had been here? Now Aiba was sure that he was dreaming. That couldn’t be happening for real.

“She was real? I mean, Alice in Wonderland is a fairy tale… or something like that.”

Nino looked down at him. “It’s not a fairy tale. At least not only…” He tilted his head. “But some parts are just imagination.”

Some parts? “So you want to tell me that I am in the world of Alice in Wonderland?”

“Seems so.” The cat shrugged. “And you’re not dreaming if that’s what you think.”

“I am not?” How could the cat know about that?

Nino sat down on the floor. “Everyone believed they were dreaming, but no one ever really was. They came here and left us again after they failed trying to defeat the evil that is hunting us.” He came a little closer to Aiba.” Or they died trying,” he whispered.

Die? No, Aiba wouldn’t try to defeat anyone here. He just wanted to go home to his nice little apartment and… what would he do at home? There was no one waiting for him, and he had lost his job some months ago. But it would definitely be better than being here in this strange world. Which didn’t exist of course… He was sure about that.

“How can I get home?” Aiba asked. He could see Nino’s ear twitching and his tail wiggled a little faster. Was he nervous?

“You need to go through the forest, past the Mad Hatter’s house, follow the path down to the Duke and past the March hare,” Nino explained. “But I really, really, really would appreciate it if you at least stopped at the Mad Hatter’s house to get some tea.”

Was he really caught in this strange world? Great… Aiba was just glad that he had always loved to read books, and Alice in Wonderland had been one of his favourites when he had been a child. “Wait a moment, the Duke? It’s the Duchess in the book?”

Nino rolled his eyes. “Why does everyone say this? It’s simply a lie. There has never been a Duchess. Maybe the author didn’t want to write about Duke Ohno because he was too silent or absent-minded, or I don’t know.”

“Wait a moment, you mean Lewis Carroll visited Wonderland?” Aiba asked.

“Of course.” Nino yawned and stretched his limps. “What did you think how he got the idea?”

So the Cheshire Cat wanted to make him believe that the author of Alice in Wonderland had really visited Wonderland and that’s how he got his story? Aiba really had to think about his life when he would wake up from this dream. This was really far too strange, even for him. “I don’t think I can believe this.”

“Oh, everyone says that, but they start believing after they've visited some of us around here. So, how about trying to get out of here?” Nino suggested.

Aiba looked around if there was really no other door than the big one, and – just to be sure – he pinched his own arm, but he didn’t wake up. “Okay, in the novel there is a cake or a liquid to make me tall again.”

Nino smiled at him. “Smart guy – really.” He stood up. “But this is not the novel and things have changed around here.” Suddenly Nino seemed sad. His tail hung down and it didn’t move anymore. He was lost in his thoughts for a moment before he smiled at Aiba again. “Look up there.” He pointed at a box on a cupboard. “You need to get these.”

Aiba turned to the cat. “Are you nuts? That’s too high. I am not able to get up there.”

“Wait, I'll help you.” Nino stretched out his arm. Aiba gulped before he climbed into Nino’s hand and tried to hold one of Nino’s fingers while he lifted him up onto the cupboard.

Luckily, the box was half-open and Aiba could take a look into it. There were two cookies in it: a brown and a red one. Great, which one should he eat now? “Which one will make me tall again?”

“Hm.” Nino rubbed his chin. “I think it’s the red one, but I am not sure.” He came closer and smelled the cookies. “No, take the brown one, I think I can smell the sleeping powder in the red one.”

Should he believe what Nino told him? What if he took the wrong cookie? But in the end sleeping didn’t sound all too bad. Maybe he’d get back to his world again if he slept in here? Or should he really go for an adventure? No, Aiba wasn’t the adventurous type. He’d taste one of the cookies and if he fell asleep it would be okay, if he grew bigger, he’d search directly for a way out of here. “Okay, I take the brown one.” He decided to do what the cat told him.

Aiba pulled on the cookie to get a piece off of it and fell back on his butt when a piece of it finally broke off from the rest – damn two meter cookie… at least for Aiba’s current height. He took a bite of it and soon he could feel something in him twitching and pulling. First his legs got taller and then the rest of his body got back to his old height. “Ha, you were right,” Aiba said with a smile. Now he was just a few centimetres taller than Nino.

“I know. My nose is pretty good.” Nino pointed at his nose with a grin. “Now we can go.” Nino pulled on Aiba’s arm. “It’s a half daytwelve-hour walk to the Mad Hatter, and it’s already afternoon.”

Half day walkTwelve-hour walk? That sounded really exhausting and Aiba could already feel his stomach grumble, so he would probably need something to eat soon.

“Are you hungry?” Nino asked.

He didn’t know that the Cheshire Cat was able to read minds. “How do you know?” Aiba asked.

Nino pointed at Aiba’s belly. “I can hear your stomach.” He smiled. “I am half cat, half human, Aiba, my ears are cat ones, so I can hear really, really, good.”

“Okay, okay, yes, I am hungry as hell,” Aiba sighed. He was sure that his cheeks were a little flushed.

Nino chuckled. “It’s okay. Let’s get out of here, I’ll get you some food out there.”

When Aiba opened the door to Wonderland, he stopped for a moment. It was more beautiful than he had imagined it. He could remember how often he had played ‘Aiba in Wonderland’ when he had been a child, but all his ideas about this world were too less beautiful than it was. There was a fresh smell of wood and rain in the air, and some rainbows curled around the sky high above. Just on the left side was a dark cloud forming in the sky. “What’s this?” Aiba pointed at it.

Nino looked at the cloud, and his light brown eyes got darker. “We don’t know it. We just know that someone is killing the people here.”

Aiba froze. “Really? And it’s not the Queen of Hearts?”

Nino shook his head. “No, even she has lost some of her followers. We already work together, which is pretty strange I guess.”

“That sounds bad, really bad,” Aiba said.

Nino nodded. “But it’s getting worse. We already hide from whatever is hunting us, and that’s why we need help. This guy or whatever finds us everywhere. And that’s why you are here.” Nino started walking down the street. Aiba stayed a few steps behind him and watched Nino’s fluffy red-brown tail swinging in rhythm with Nino’s steps.

Aiba had to smile about that. It really looked cute, even though it was weird. They entered a wood with high trees forming a kind of tunnel around them. It was dark, but to Aiba’s surprise it didn’t look scaring. There were small butterflies in all kinds of colours flying around in the air, and at the side of the path were hundreds of different flowers, from small to big, from white to black. On the biggest flower amongst them, Aiba could see the Caterpillar he knew from the books sitting with his pipe, smoking almost happily. Just when they came closer and Nino greeted him, Aiba could see that nothing was all right. The caterpillar looked sad and unhealthy, like something really big was burdening him.

“Oh, Cheshire Cat, how are you doing?” The Caterpillar asked with a thin voice.

“Good, because there came someone new. Maybe this time everything will be alright.” Nino turned to Aiba. God, did they really believe that Aiba would try to fight against anything here? He felt sorry for the people around here, but he just wanted to go home. “Right, Aiba?”

Aiba nodded when he saw Nino forming a silent ‘please’ with his lips.

“Oh, that sounds great, have a nice day, Nino, and young Aiba-san. I really hope you can rescue my world.” When Aiba passed the Caterpillar he could see his worried expression much clearer. Was this world really going to be destroyed?

“Thank you,” Nino said when they were far away from the animal. “He is really at the end of his power, and I fear that he’ll die soon if things are going on like this. I couldn’t tell him, that you are just here to get out of this world again.”

Aiba just nodded. He didn’t want to make anyone sad, and he could understand that they all hoped that there’d come someone to help them out of their troubles, but was Aiba really the right one for this? Wait, did he really think about staying? He looked at Nino, who guided him to a big tree with apples on it.

“Here, you need to taste them.” Nino jumped up to the tree and came back down with two fruits. “We can rest here, it’s almost night and I am tired.”

“Here?” Aiba looked around. There was nothing around them, except nature. Where the hell should he sleep? On the ground with no bed and blanket? That wasn’t what he had imagined.

“It’s a nice place, yes. I often stay here at night,” Nino said, and Aiba could see that this was one of Nino’s favourite places, so he decided not to voice his thoughts.

“I don’t have a blanket.” Aiba just sat next to Nino. In the end he couldn’t get out of this without Nino, because he had no idea where to go. This world was indeed huge.

“No problem, it’s warm here.” Nino said, and Aiba knew what the other meant. There was moss on the ground, but it was warm and it felt a tiny bit like a bed. Aiba leaned against the tree and took the apple Nino offered him.

It really tasted delicious. Aiba just hoped that he wouldn't become tiny or extremely huge after tasting it. He closed his eyes for a moment and winced when he felt something on his lap. He looked down to see Nino’s head on his leg, coiled up right next to him. Aiba had always had animals when he had been a child, so he instinctively started scratching around Nino’s cat ears. It was strange, because he knew that Nino wasn’t a cat after all, it were just his ears and the tail, but when he started purring loudly, Aiba mused that there was more of a cat in Nino than it looked like. Nino’s ears moved forth and back a little bit, and his tail started swinging and when he started purring his tail suddenly seemed much fluffier than before. Nino’s hands were stretched and he moved his fingers like cats did with their claws when they enjoyed a certain touch.

“You like that?” Aiba asked. He blushed a bit when he realized that he was actually talking with a human and not with an animal, but Nino didn’t seem to care about it.

He nodded at Aiba, his eyes tightly closed, still purring contently. Aiba scratched the small part where Nino’s hair turned into fur, and up to the ears, which he massaged softly. Nino’s breath got slower and his hands stopped moving together with his tail. Aiba wished he could fall asleep that fast, but especially now there were hundreds of things running through his mind, and he still didn’t know what to think about this whole situation.

Aiba could feel his eyes getting heavier and soon after he slipped into a more or less peaceful sleep.

~~~

Aiba could hear the birds singing and it smelled like fresh grass. He turned and felt someone next to him, and a small purr echoed in his ear. Aiba opened his eyes. Damn, he hadn’t dreamed this whole thing. It was really happening. Nino lay next to him, still coiled up, his breath slow.

“Hey, Nino,” Aiba said. “Wake up.”

Nino opened his eyes a little bit and stretched his limps. “Is it already morning?” He sat up. “We should get going. The Mad Hatter already awaits you, and it’s not good to be late when the March hare is waiting for you as well.”

They stood up and were soon on their way to the Mad Hatter’s home. Would it be strange like in the book? How was the Mad Hatter? Was he a nice guy? And the March hare?

“Nino?”

“Hm?” The cat turned to him.

“Is the March hare, you know, like you?” Aiba asked. He was a little bit afraid to ask about it, but Nino really didn’t seem to care about his cat-side.

“Oh, Sho-kun is the same yes.” Nino nodded. “You know, Carroll was a little bit… afraid of us.” Nino smiled. “That’s why he used real animals in his book, except that I am able to dissolve in the original story?”

“Yeah, true,” Aiba said. “But afraid? You are rather cute than dangerous.” Aiba could see Nino blushing at his words.

“We'll reach the Mad Hatter soon,” Nino said. “He is way different from the book. He isn’t that… crazy. He just pretended to be, because he wanted to get rid of Carroll.” Nino laughed. “Just that this leaded Carroll to describe us in a totally different way than we actually are.”

They reached a big field with some trees in the middle of it. It really looked different than what Aiba knew from the books. He followed the Cheshire Cat to the trees and soon there was the March hare approaching them. “You are late, Nino.” He pointed at his clock. “Jun's already waiting for you and…” He stopped when he looked at Aiba. “Who’s this?”

Nino turned to Aiba and smiled. “I found him. He came to save us.” Aiba could see the hare’s ears moving. He was similar to Nino, just that he had rabbit ears and a small tail on his back. But he was nevertheless more human than animal.

“Nah, I don’t believe this anymore. In the end no one was able to save us, even Alice ran away to get back to her world,” the hare said. He looked at Aiba. “But now you are already here. Come, I'll make some tea.” He guided Aiba to the large table and offered him a seat.

“The Mad Hatter will be here soon,” he said. He threw a dark glance at Nino, who jumped on the table and lay down there. “You are a human, damn, act like one.”

“Oh come on, Sho-chan, sometimes it’s nice to play the cat,” Nino said with a smile. “He is always so strict, but he is good-hearted,” Nino explained when Sho was gone. “He is just worried, like we all are.”

Aiba looked at the other. Nino’s eyes were small and there was a real fear covering his face. Was it really that bad? Was this world going to be destroyed by someone who didn’t like stories? “I'm afraid I can’t help you.” Aiba shrugged. “I am just a human.”

“Don’t underestimate a human’s strength.” Aiba turned when he heard a foreign voice speaking to him. He turned to look at the man behind him. He blinked. Damn, this guy was good-looking. He had black hair and a piercing look. The small mole under his lip underlined his perfect smile.

“I am sorry?” Aiba asked when he was able to take his eyes off this man.

The man smiled at him. “I think you are probably stronger than you think you are.” He sat opposite Aiba, his hands on his knees. He had tight black-purple pants and a white shirt with a gilet in the same colour as his pants.

“I guess not,” Aiba answered. He knew about his power – which was really non-existing. He had always been a coward and he hated it to be the centre of something.

“Here is the tea,” Sho came with a plate and placed the cups on the table. He glanced at Nino, who was still lying on there, his tail happily wiggling left and right. He seemed to enjoy teasing Sho like this.

The Mad Hatter waved his hand. “It doesn’t matter now. It’s good that you are here.” He smiled at Aiba.

“But he wants to leave immediately,” Nino said with a sad voice.

Aiba could see everyone looking at him. He blushed. “I am sorry.”

The Mad Hatter leaned forward. Aiba could see his purple-green eyes and his smile turned into an earnest face. “We really need help. I fear we are all going to die soon.”

Aiba gulped. He really wasn’t the right person for this. He wasn’t even able to scold children for playing in his garden and now he should be in charge of saving a whole world? “But I am really not made for something like this. I am really, really weak.”

Aiba could see Nino moving across the table till he was at the edge of it. He lay down there, his head on his hands, and he stared at Aiba with puppy eyes. His ears were trembling slightly, and his tail moved left and right and back – just a little bit, and not happy and full of energy like it did before. “I am sure you are able to help us, Aiba-chan. Your sickness is no problem here. You are healthy. Your lungs work normal and you don’t need to be afraid of dying here.”

How did Nino know about it? He hadn’t said a word about his illness. Yes, Aiba had wondered why he felt so good here. There was no need for extra oxygen and he didn’t need the pills and medicine he was used to take. He wasn’t connected to the machines like he had been in the normal world, and he was happy about it, but what did this mean? “What?”

Nino smiled at him. He looked at Aiba’s hand. “I want some scratching.”

Aiba looked at Nino and raised his hand to scratch around Nino’s ears like he had done the night before. Nino purred and closed his eyes almost immediately. “I can hear your breathing and your heartbeat. Your breathing is slower than usual, but it’s not dangerous. You had health problems, but I can tell you, you don’t have them here,” Nino said without looking at him. He purred louder when Aiba let his fingers wander over his scalp, scratching here and there.

That sounded too good to be true. Aiba looked up at the Mad Hatter and the hare, who were sitting there, just staring at them. “Nino, I already told you that the table is not made for you to lie on,” the Mad Hatter said angrily. “You are a human being after all,” he added.

“Even though you have a tail and cat ears,” the March hare continued, but Nino didn’t even listen. He had his eyes closed and his purr was steady and calm. He was probably already asleep.

“Mad Hatter, what kind of danger is hunting you?” Aiba wanted to know. He could at least listen to their problems and decide afterwards that he wanted to go back home.

“My name is Jun, please. I don’t like being called Mad Hatter,” he smiled at Aiba. “We don’t know for sure, because it’s far away in the land behind our land. There is something trying to destroy us, and we don’t know what it is.”

He saw Sho looking at him. “And Jun knows a lot about this country. But if even he can’t tell what it is, it’s really dangerous.”

Great, and Aiba should fight against this danger no one knew about? “And why do you believe that I am able to help you? I mean, I don’t even know how I got here and it’s all so strange, maybe I am just dreaming.”

Jun smiled at him and he could feel Nino moving next to him. He still had his hand on Nino’s ear, scratching it lazily. “I knew it,” Jun’s voice was soft but with a certain strength. “I saw it in my dreams that you’ll come here.”

“Me?” Aiba pointed at himself.

Jun nodded. “We all knew that you’d come to us. We just didn’t know exactly when you’d arrive."

“And you are not dreaming,” Sho added. “Even though we understand that it’s hard for you to accept that you really are in a different world.”

“He is here?” Aiba winced when he heard a voice behind him. He turned to see a man in strange clothes. He had small eyes and he just stared at him.

“Oh, Satoshi.” Jun stood up. “This is the Duke.”
So this was the Duchess who was actually the Duke. Aiba could understand what Carroll meant with boring look, but there was something else in those eyes. He could see that the Duke was definitely not uninterested or sleepy. He was very well aware of the fact how he looked to others and he used this to his own advantage. Aiba had always been good in reading other people and their character. That might have been his only ability.

“Nice to meet you, I am Ohno Satoshi, the Duke.” The man bowed and sat next to Aiba. He looked at Nino on the table and rolled his eyes. “This cat will never change.” He sighed and turned to Aiba with a smile. “It’s so nice to finally have you here.”

“I don’t need to change,” Nino said sleepily. He yawned and stretched his limps, which looked rather funny, because he stretched like cats did, just that he had a human body.

“Yeah, sure.” The Duke patted Nino’s head and turned his attention back to Aiba. “So, how do you plan on saving us?”

“Satoshi, he doesn’t even know yet why he is here, so slow down,” Jun urged Ohno to be patient.

“Okay, okay.” Ohno raised his hands. “I am just happy that there is someone here again, after Alice and the others left us.”

They left? Why? Aiba had the slight feeling that this meant nothing good. “Why couldn’t they help you?”

“They thought that this is impossible, and that it’s useless to try further.” Jun looked sad. “It wasn’t their world, so they weren’t concerned about it. In the end they thought that it was just a fairy tale and not a real world which gets destroyed.”

“But it is a real world, maybe not for them, but for us,” Ohno added.

They were silent for a moment and there was just Nino’s almost silent purr echoing. Aiba looked around. They all seemed really nice, even though he still had the feeling that this was nothing more than a dream. “I am really not made to help you. I am weak, really,” Aiba finally said.

“No you aren’t.” Nino looked up at him, his tail standing upright and fluffy like he was really angry. “You are able to help us, I am sure about it.”

Aiba shook his head. “What makes you think so? You don’t know me.”

Nino sat up and jumped down from the table to walk up to Jun, where he sat next to him. Jun’s hand scratched Nino’s ear and for a moment he closed his eyes and just purred loudly. Then his eyes snapped open and he stared at Aiba. “Jun and I have chosen you. We wanted you to come here.”

“You?” Aiba asked, surprised.

Nino nodded. “We saw you in hospital some months ago, and we immediately knew that you were the one to save us.”

They had visited him in hospital? He never had any visitors there. Where had they seen him? Aiba shook his head. This was really getting confusing. “You came to my world?”

Jun smiled at him. “No, not really. We just had the chance to see you through the magic mirror in your hospital room. We've waited months till we had the feeling that there was someone who would be able to help us.”

A magic mirror? Okay, he was in Wonderland, so he shouldn’t think too much if this was true, because obviously things like magic and wonders existed. “And you observed me?”

“You know, you weren’t to survive your break down. But you made it. You are strong, Aiba, you survived an illness when you were meant to die,” Jun said.

“But there's a difference between surviving an illness and saving a world from… I don’t know what,” Aiba complained.

He could see Jun standing up and walking around the table. He looked noble and… handsome. Aiba blinked. Yes, Jun was definitely good-looking. God, what was he thinking here?

Jun sat next to him, his hand placed on Aiba’s shoulder. Jun’s eyes were dark, but friendly and he smiled. “It’s not that much of a difference, believe me. But for now you need to rest.”

Aiba didn’t feel tired after all, but he wouldn’t say something against a shower and maybe something to eat. “Where can I stay?”

“You’ll stay at my place,” Jun said. “Sho, please bring some blankets and a pillow.”

The March hare nodded at him. “I'll be back in a minute.” He took out his pocket watch. “Yes. One minute.” He smiled and stood up to leave.

“I will never understand his addiction to time,” Nino said with a yawn. It couldn’t be that he was tired again? But maybe that was his cat gene, which made him sleepy all day long.

“Thank you, Jun-san, for the offer to stay at your house.” Aiba bowed.

Jun waved his hand. “No, no, that’s okay. I have enough space, really. Come, I’ll show you my home.”

Aiba followed Jun through a small wood until they reached a large area with an old-looking house. It looked small, but it was high and there was even a tower on the roof of it. In the oriel window Aiba could see various kinds of hats stapled probably on the window sill.

“Come in.” Jun opened the door and guided Aiba through a small corridor. “Here on the left are the kitchen and the dining room, on the right is your guest room. The bathroom is at the end of the corridor. I have my rooms on the first floor.”

It was like staying at a hotel in a foreign country, but Aiba didn’t know if he really liked it here. On the wall were pictures of hats, only hats and everywhere around where clothes and fabrics lying around. “You have an amazing amount of clothes.” Aiba was stunned.

“What?” Jun turned. “Oh, yes, I love it. It’s my hobby. Sho’s and Nino’s clothes are all made by me, since they need special ones because of their tails.”

“Amazing,” Aiba said and looked further around.

“Oh, they are just tails, I don’t think it’s that amazing,” Jun laughed.

“What?” Aiba blinked. “Oh, I meant your home and not the tails, but they are also amazing, kind of…”

Jun tilted his head and smiled at him. “Whatever you think. So, how about taking a rest? You can take a shower and take a nap, and I will prepare some tea.”

That sounded really good, Aiba had been awake for far too long. He looked at the small clock on the wall. How long had he already been in Wonderland? What time was it? Was it already nighttime? “Is it 2am or pm?”

“2pm, but it doesn’t matter, take a rest and we’ll have tea at 5pm.” Jun looked at Aiba. “And something to eat, because even I can hear your stomach grumble, and I don’t need Nino’s or Sho’s ears to hear that.”

Jun smiled at Aiba. His eyes were definitely mesmerizing, and Aiba had the feeling that he could get lost in them. “And later on we’ll get you something nice to wear, because this.” Jun pointed at Aiba. “Is absolutely a no-go.”

Aiba looked down at himself. Oh god, he still had his pyjama pants and his hospital clothes on. He hadn’t realized it till now, because he had had other things to concentrate on, but now he felt rather embarrassed. Aiba had always been concerned about his clothes – he loved shopping and he loved looking good. “Oh my,” Aiba said. He pulled on the shirt. “I really look bad.”

“Nah.” Jun waved his hand. “It’s okay, we’ll find something nice for you.”

“Thank you, Jun-san.” Aiba bowed. Even though he still didn’t know why he was here or what he should really do, he felt good for now, and he felt that he definitely needed some rest now.

“No problem, and now take a rest.” Jun walked to the stairs. “I will make you something to wear meanwhile.”

Aiba blinked. Wait, Jun would make something new, now? In such a short time? “It’s not necessary to make something, Jun-san. I can wear something old, really.”

Jun shook his head and his eyes got darker. “No way.” He had his hands on his hips. “No one wears old stuff, I won’t allow that. I'll make something new.”

“Don’t try to say something to keep Jun from doing this,” Aiba heard Nino saying. “If he wants to make you new clothes, he will do it. It doesn’t matter what you say about it.” He turned to see Nino at the door, leaning against the frame.

“Well, thank you,” Aiba said. He was sure that he was blushing. He opened the door to his room. “I will rest now.” He could see that Nino was still looking at him, a short purr escaping his lips.

“Can I join?” What? Nino wanted to sleep at his side? He didn’t know him, and Aiba didn’t like to share his bed with someone, but Nino had already slept on Aiba’s lap on the field.

“Okay,” Aiba said slowly.

He could see Jun roll his eyes and a short sigh escaped his lips. “Nino, you really are something.” He stepped to Nino, his hand brushing Nino’s head. “I have to apologize for him. He is sometimes more a cat than a human, and he likes human contact pretty much.” Jun smiled and scratched Nino’s ear. “But if you don’t want this, it’s okay, I can take him upstairs with me.”

Aiba shook his head. “No, no, it’s okay.”

Jun shrugged. “Okay.” He walked to the stairs. “I will wake you up for tea later on. I will send Sho for some extra-special ingredients for the tea.”

Aiba thanked him and opened the door. Nino slipped into the room before Aiba had the chance to take a step. Maybe Jun was right, and Nino was more cat than he looked liked. Nino lay on the bed, which was in the middle of the room. The room was small, but it looked friendly, and the big window was covered with ivy on the outside. Butterflies were hovering above small purple flowers, which were between the ivy. It looked almost romantic.

Aiba pushed Nino to the side a bit to lie down on the bed. He closed his eyes and felt Nino shifting next to him till his head rested on Aiba’s belly. He purred in his sleep, which calmed Aiba down. Aiba felt his eyes getting tired and soon he felt into a dreamless sleep.

~~~

“Hey, Aiba-chan.” He felt hands on his stomach, poking him there. “Wake up.”

Aiba yawned. Where was he? Oh right, he was in Wonderland. But maybe he had been dreaming and now he was in his world again? It had for sure been just a strange dream and now he was in hospital again. Why was he in hospital? Hm… he didn’t know anymore.

He heard a loud purr and something fluffy touched his face. “Nino?” Aiba said. He opened his eyes and saw Nino sitting next to him on the bed, his tail wiggling left and right, touching his face every time it moved.

“It’s almost five and Jun wants you to try your new clothes.” So Aiba wasn’t dreaming, he was still here in wWonderland, and he still had no idea how he had landed here. But he had been able see something before he woke up. It was just a small picture in his mind, but he wasn’t sure how to interpret it.

He needed to find someone who could give him some answers. “Okay.” Aiba sat up. “Nino, is there someone who can answer me some questions about my visit here?”

Nino smiled at him. “Maybe J. He knows a lot about Wonderland and about the happenings here.”

“J?” Aiba asked.

“Oh, sorry, Jun. I just call him like that.” Nino jumped down from the bed.

“Oh, I understand.” Aiba followed Nino and almost bumped into Sho, who wanted to knock on their door right in this moment.

“Hurry up, you are already late!” Sho pointed at his clock. “You are two minutes late, run, run.” He pointed at the stairs.

“Keep calm, hare, it’s not that horrible to be two minutes late for tea,” Nino said with a teasing voice.

“I am sorry,” Aiba said with a bow when he passed Sho. “We’ll hurry.”

“Yeah, do that.” Sho glanced at Nino, who just smiled.

The first floor was huge. Aiba hadn’t imagined it, because the rooms downstairs seemed pretty small. There were hats and other clothes all around the room and in the middle was a rather big table with sewing kits on it. Jun sat there, a shirt in his hand and the needle and a thread in his other hand. Aiba stepped closer and stroked over the pants on the table. “You do this without a sewing machine?”

Jun looked at him and pushed the glasses he now wore higher up on his nose. “Real work is done by hand, and that’s how I work.”

Aiba was stunned. The clothes looked machine-made, there was no thread lose or wrongly placed. The clothes were just perfect. “I thought black pants and a dark green shirt would fit you best.”

Aiba nodded. He took the clothes and undressed. He blushed when he saw Nino and Jun staring at him. “I am sorry,” he said immediately, but didn’t even know why he apologized.

“Go ahead,” Jun said and turned, and Aiba was sure that he could see something like a slight blush on Jun’s cheeks.

He slipped into the pants and closed them before he pulled the shirt around his shoulders and buttoned it. “They fit perfectly.”

“J knows what fits others. And he can tell their size by just looking at them,” Nino explained. “He just doesn’t want to hear that he is good at what he does.”

“Nah, I am not that good,” Jun said. “But I have to admit that this really fits you. You look incredibly good.”

Aiba looked into the mirror. He had never had the feeling of being ugly, but it was one of those rare times he really liked what he saw in the mirror. Aiba smiled. “I feel great with this, thank you.”

“No problem,” Jun said and stepped to the table again. “I made you a green pyjama for the night too. I had some remnant from you shirt.”

Aiba took the item. Jun did this all by himself? This was definitely amazing, but maybe it was just normal for someone who lived in Wonderland.

“I will bring this to my room and come outside right after,” Aiba said. He walked downstairs and could hear Nino and Jun talking on the first floor, but soon he just heard them coming down and leaving the house. Aiba placed the pyjama on the bed when he saw a small package in the middle of the bed. There were a shower gel, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush and some other basic stuff in it.

From the hare to you, was written on it, but Aiba was sure that Jun had told Sho to get these things for him. He smiled when he walked outside again. Maybe it was really not bad at all here. In the end he hadn’t missed anyone by now, and he was sure that no one would miss him in his world. It was sad, but that’s how things had become for him in the real world. His parents had died some years ago, and he had no other relatives and he had hardly any friends around. The few he had, lived far away, and he had no contact anymore. Yes, he had been a loner, and somehow he regretted this now.

“YOU ARE LATE!” Sho poked Aiba’s belly when he came outside into the garden.

“I am sorry,” Aiba laughed out when he felt Sho’s pokes. He was really ticklish, but the other did seem to think that he laughed about him.

“That’s not funny.” He walked to the seat and sat down, his hands crossed on his chest. One of his ears was bent down and the other stood proudly up in the air. It looked really sweet, but he was sure that Sho didn’t want to look sweet at all.

“I didn’t want to laugh at you, I am just really ticklish.” Aiba sat down opposite Sho. “And thank you for the small package in my room.”

Aiba could see Sho blushing, especially when the others looked at him curiously. “What?” Sho said with a shrug. “I don’t want a smelly guest here, you know my nose is pretty sensitive when it’s about smells.”

“Oh yes, of course,” Jun said. He rolled his eyes. “Tell me Aiba-san, what do you want to eat?”

“Everything, really. I am just starving.” Aiba rubbed his belly.

“Good, here we go. This is a special carrot-spinach-mushroom soup. I hope you’ll like it.” Jun handed Aiba a plate with soup. “And this is a special lavender-lemon-mint-orange tea. It’s Sho’s creation.”

“You have to taste it, it’s delicious,” Ohno, who still sat at the same place as hours ago, said. Aiba wasn’t sure if he had left in between his nap, or if Ohno sat here all time.

Aiba took a spoonful of soup. It felt good to get something to eat and he started eating faster when he realized that the soup really tasted good. He tasted the tea, which was better than any tea he had ever drunk before. “Wow, that’s amazing, Sho-san.”

“Well, thank you,” the hare answered. Sho’s ears moved a bit, and it seemed that he was embarrassed about the compliment.

Aiba looked around. They smiled at him and talked a little with each other, but Aiba didn’t get rid of the feeling that every smile was just a farce. He could see their dark rings under their eyes, and there was worry and fear sparkling in them. It made Aiba more curious why he had come here, and how.

“Jun, how did I come here?” Aiba asked. He looked at the Mad Hatter and could see him thinking about an answer. He visibly thought about telling him the truth or pretend that he didn’t know it. “You can tell me, it’s okay,” Aiba said.

“Well, you know that you were hospitalized?” Jun asked carefully.

“Yes, I can remember that,” Aiba said. His memory was blurry and there wasn’t much he could tell about his time in hospital, but he remembered some moments he had experienced there.

He looked at Nino, who stared at the ground and it seemed he didn’t dare to look at Aiba. And even the others looked away. Just Jun kept eye contact with him. “Everything?”

Aiba shook his head. “Just some fragments.”

“So you can’t remember what happened to you?” Now Aiba could feel a slow panic rising in him. What was supposed to have happened with him?

“No.”

Jun nodded. “It’s not that important, now you are here, and you can help us.” Jun smiled at him.

“I really want to know what happened,” Aiba insisted. He wouldn’t give up on getting an answer, but when he saw Jun shaking his head, he knew that there wouldn’t come any other answer – at least not now.

“It’s not that important, really. Try to feel good here for a few days and maybe you decide to help us?” Jun asked.

“Okay,” Aiba sighed. “But I am still not sure if I am able to help you, really.”

Nino climbed onto the table again and lay down next to Aiba’s seat. “We are sure you are.”

~~~

Aiba lay in his bed with his eyes open. His thoughts were running wild, and he was never good at sleeping when something burdened him. Why was he here? And how did he get here? And what happened in the hospital? He tried to remember, but there was nothing in his mind. It was blank.

He turned to look out of the window. The moon lightened the room and he could hear some noises outside. It had to be animals, but Aiba wasn’t sure about it. He was alone in his room, because Nino had decided to sleep somewhere outside. He could hear Jun walking on the first floor, but soon the noise stopped, so he was probably sleeping.

Aiba rolled from one side to the other, but no position seemed to be comfortable enough to let him fall asleep. He grunted and stood up to get himself something to drink. Jun had told him to use his kitchen when he needed something, and so Aiba walked out of his room.

He entered the kitchen and found Jun sitting there at the table, some sewing things on there. “Hey,” Jun said with a smile.

“Oh, Jun. I thought you were already asleep.” Aiba was astonished to find the other one in the kitchen. He had thought that Jun was doing his work upstairs only, but it seemed he was wrong.

“No, I often come down here to finish my things. I have the better light here at night,” Jun answered. “Did you have a hobby, Aiba-san?”

Aiba took a glass of water and sat opposite Jun. “Call me Masaki, please.” He smiled. “I always loved to play the saxophone, but at one point I had to stop because of health issues.”

“Okay, Masaki,” Jun said. “That’s sad to hear, but maybe you can start again one day?”

“I am not sure about it.” Aiba looked at Jun pushing the needle through the fabric. “I think my lungs are getting worse, and I am afraid I won’t be able to keep up this hobby.”

Jun’s fingers danced over the fabric and soon he had sewed the two pieces together. “That’s really not good. But maybe you can find another hobby?” Jun raised the pants in his hands. “Maybe you can sew something?”

Aiba laughed. “No, I don’t think that’s my talent.”

“But you love clothes?”

Aiba nodded. “Yes, but I am only good at buying clothes and not making them on my own.”

“Who knows.” Jun shrugged. “Maybe you find your hidden love for it.”

“Jun, why did you choose me?” Aiba changed the topic.

“What?”

“Why did you bring me here?”

Jun put his things on the table. “You are strong, Masaki. You just don’t want to believe in yourself. I immediately saw the strong will you have, and I am sure you are the right person to help us, even though you don’t think that’s true.”

“I can’t imagine that I am really the right person for this, Jun.” Aiba sighed. He sat opposite Jun. “I think you were wrong.”

Jun just smiled at him, his hand stroked over the pants on the table. He seemed absent-minded, but Aiba wasn’t sure if he was just thinking about what to say or if he really wasn’t listening at all. “I mean, I am sick, and I am really not that strong,” Aiba said again.

“Why don’t you trust yourself?” Jun suddenly looked up.

Aiba blinked. He trusted in his abilities… at least sometimes. But in the most important situations his body didn’t make it and he broke down, like on the day he wanted to play the saxophone solo part in school – he had fainted after a few seconds. And the day he wanted to run away from bullies it didn’t take them longer than a few minutes to catch Aiba and beat him up. He had always wanted to be strong, but fact was that he wasn’t strong. “I got disappointed several times,” he just said.

“Okay.” Jun clapped his hands. “Stop this from now on. You are in Wonderland, so let me proof to you that you are strong.”

Aiba smiled. “So you mean wonders happen in Wonderland?”

Jun laughed out. “Oh yes, a lot of wonders. Like that I didn’t throw the bratty Cheshire Cat out of my house, who listens every time I have a talk with someone,.” Jun pointed at the door.

Aiba could see a fluffy tail wiggling there and soon Nino stepped into the room, his cheeks slightly blushing. “I am sorry.” He had his hands on his back. “I slept outside and it was getting cold and I thought I could sleep inside, and I heard you talking.”

Jun’s eyes were dark, but he didn’t seem like he’d shout at the other now. He instead rolled his eyes and pointed at the chair next to him. “Sit down, Nino.” And the cat did so.

“Listen, we need to make Aiba clear that he is a strong person, because he doesn’t believe me,” Jun explained. No, Aiba didn’t want any proof that he was strong, because he knew that he wasn’t and he’d probably die if he tried to be strong.

“Roger –,” Nino said with a smile. “We need a strong Aiba-chan.” He let his tail move left and right almost nervously. “I can do this.”

Jun nodded. “You’ll go to the Duke tomorrow asking for his help, and I will talk with Sho.”

Aiba wanted to complain, but he couldn’t say anything when he saw Jun and Nino smiling happily. Were thing really that bad in Wonderland? Was there really an enemy attacking this land? But nevertheless Aiba wasn’t the right one for this. “I am not sure.”

“Nah, don’t talk any more,” Jun stopped him. “We’ll show you some things tomorrow, but for now you need to rest properly.”

“Okay,” Aiba let himself being pulled up by Jun and walked behind him back to his room. Jun smiled at him when he closed the door. “I will keep Nino with me, so he doesn’t disturb you while sleeping.”

It was strange, but Nino’s serene purr calmed Aiba down and he had the feeling that he could slip into a more peaceful sleep with the Cheshire Cat next to him. “No, let him in. I like him next to me.”

Jun nodded with a smile. “Okay.” There was a short sparkle in Jun’s eyes. Was he disappointed or angry about Nino sleeping in Aiba’s room? He hoped he hadn't said something wrong now.

“But if you want him to sleep in your room, it’s okay,” Aiba added.

“No, no,” Jun said. “It’s okay, really. I'll ask what he wants.” But right in the moment Jun wanted to turn, Nino already slipped into the room and almost jumped on Aiba’s bed.

“I am here.” He grinned. He lay down on one side of the bed and coiled up there, his eyes already closed, dozing off.

“The only thing he does is sleeping,” Jun grumbled, but there was still a smile curling around his lips. “Have a good night, Aiba-chan.”

Aiba returned the smile. “Thank you.” He bowed. “You too, Jun-san.”

Jun closed the door and left Aiba in the dark. He just heard Nino’s silent purrs in his sleep. He turned and lay down under the blanket careful not to wake Nino up. Soon Aiba felt the tiredness overwhelming him and he slipped into a peaceful sleep.

~~~

Aiba had the feeling that there was someone stroking his face softly and he was sure that he felt lips on his, but when he opened his eyes there was no one around. Even Nino was gone from his room. He had probably dreamed all this? But it had felt so real! But he was in Wonderland, so he didn’t know what could happen here and what wasn’t possible.

Aiba slipped out of the bed to take a nice shower before he’d search for the others.

The water felt nice on his skin, and for the first time in weeks he had a feeling of being relaxed. He felt an enormous tension fading from him. Why was he that stressed? There was no reason for him, or was there a reason, but he couldn’t remember? What was happening in the real world? And why did he know that he didn’t have any friends or family, but he couldn’t remember why he had come here?

Aiba shook his head. He slipped into the pants and the shirt Jun had made for him and walked to the kitchen, where Jun was preparing some tea. “Oh, good morning.” He smiled at Aiba and a small jump appeared in Aiba’s belly. What was that?

“Good morning, Jun-san.” Aiba stepped to the other. “Oh god, are these pancakes?”

Jun nodded at him. “I had the chance to see a cooking show in your world, and I thought I could give this a try?” He took the tea and handed the plates to Aiba. “Would you mind bringing this outside?”

“No,” Aiba said and turned to walk to the door. He could almost feel Jun’s stares in his back. Why was he observing him?

At the big table Sho sat next to Ohno and Nino had takens his place on the table again. He let his leg hang down from the table, his eyes were closed and his ears were moving a tiny bit. Sho next to him let his ears move left and right when he came up to them. “Oh, Aiba-san.” Sho bowed. “You are just a little late today.” Sho looked at his watch.

“Oh come on, Sho-chan, don’t be so picky,” Nino said with a yawn. “He brought you some tea.”

Sho grunted something and finally took the cup to take a few sips of the tea.

“Did you have a nice night, Aiba-san?” Ohno asked. The Duke looked sleepy and like he had stayed up the whole night.

“Yes, thank you,” Aiba answered and sat next to Sho. Ohno poured some tea into Aiba’s cup and smiled at him.

“That’s nice. So you decided to help us?” Ohno said happily.

Aiba shook his head. “No, you asked if I had a good night, but that doesn’t have anything to do with me helping you.”

“I already told you that Jun made a mistake,” Sho’s voice was higher than usual.

“He never makes a mistake,” Nino explained. “Aiba is just not ready to accept that he is our rescuer.” Nino gave Aiba a bright smile. “But you are.”

Aiba felt nervousness coming up in him. Again he needed to explain that he was really not strong enough for such things, but he could also see the others relying on him, just because… yes, why? Because Jun never made a mistake with choosing the ones who needed to save them? No, that was definitely a mistake, definitely. “You said you want to show me something today?” Aiba wanted to change the topic. Maybe, when he would be out with Nino and Jun he could ask them about the way home? Maybe he’d get home afterwards.

“Yes,” Nino said with a nod. “But first you need to eat something.” He saw Jun approaching them with a big plate of pancakes and some marmalade pots and honey. God, that looked delicious. When had he eaten something like that for the last time? Aiba blinked. He remembered. He wasn’t allowed to eat sweet things because of his sickness. Was he allowed to eat them now?

Aiba looked up. Jun was close to him, sitting on the left side. He smiled at Aiba and patted his hand. “You are allowed to eat it,” Jun said like he had guessed Aiba’s thoughts.

“But my health?” Aiba asked. The smell reached his nose and he could feel his stomach grumble. God, how he missed the taste of pancakes. He was allowed to eat dry rice and some water or tea in the morning – but not a good tasting tea like this one was. Aiba shook his head. This memory was really not nice. Maybe he wasn’t missing out on anything in the real world?

“I already told you that you don’t need to care about your health here,” Nino said. “You can do what you want and eat what you want.”

Aiba’s heart jumped. Really? He was allowed to live? He grinned before he took a spoon and cut a big piece of pancake with it. It tasted like heaven. Like Aiba had never tasted something like this before. Okay, rescuing this world would be great, but only if he could be a part of it. Would he really stay here? He had a life outside, but was it a good life? He couldn’t remember any happy moments, there were only dark things hunting him.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Aiba felt Jun’s hand on his back, stroking up and down. When had he started crying? And just because of sweets?

“I am sorry. I haven't been allowed to eat something good since forever.” Aiba wiped away some tears on his cheeks.
Aiba didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for his situation, but he had to admit that it was nice to feel Jun’s hand on his back, and Nino’s head appearing next to him on the table, smiling at him. “You should eat more, you are way too thin,” Nino said.

“He is right, you look pale,” Ohno said, leaning a little forward, like he’d be able to see him better then. “And your eyes are tired, but you are already getting better, right?”

Aiba had to admit that he had slept really well, and it had been the first night in months that he hadn’t felt any pain. Wait, was there another memory? He was really in pain in his world? Was it that bad? “Yes. I slept the whole night without waking up,” he just answered.

“That’s good.” Sho nodded at him. It was the first time the hare talked with him without telling him that he was late. Aiba looked at him closely. He had gentle eyes, even though he seemed pretty strict. He was worried like the others were, Aiba could see it in their behaviour, he was just worried that they relied too much on him and he wouldn’t be able to help them in the end. Help them? Yes, Aiba felt good here, and he wanted to give them something in return – at least if it was possible for him to do something. He wouldn’t fight a sword fight or something like that, because he was totally not strong enough for this, but maybe there was a way without a fight?

“Tell me, what is the danger which wants to destroy Wonderland?” Aiba asked. He could see that everyone around him tensed and Jun’s hand, which was still on his back stopped moving. No one wanted to think about it, Aiba could understand that, but he needed to know more about it, to decide if he might be able to help them.

“We don’t know,” Jun said. “We just have a slight guess, but we aren’t sure yet, because we fear that we might die if we get closer to the dangerous zone.” Die? Okay, Aiba would definitely not go there.

“But you aren’t affected.” Nino looked at him. It seemed he was reading Aiba’s mind. “It’s just because we aren’t really human, we are… I don’t know… special?”

“But you don’t know if I get killed or not?” Aiba mused.

“We guess that the danger comes from your world, so we think that you won’t get hurt like we do. One of us already died when he tried approaching the house where the man who’s hunting us, lives,” Jun explained.

“From my world?” Aiba asked. “I can’t imagine that. Who would come here, killing the people in this world?”

Jun shrugged. “We absolutely don’t know.” Jun raised his hand. “But before you tell us again that you aren’t strong enough, can you just stay here for some more days and try to find out more about this danger? We really want to know every detail, and every tiny bit of information is important to us.”

Aiba’s heart jumped. He enjoyed that someone cared about him. “Yes, okay.” He smiled at Jun. “You wanted to show something to me?”

Jun nodded. “Nino will show you the way. I have some things to do today, but I will join you later on.”

Aiba started wondering what they wanted to show him here. Something he would be affected by? He couldn’t imagine what it was.

~~~

Aiba walked behind Nino through the wood. It was dark and the sun was only shining trough a few trees. It was warm, but also a little windy. Aiba waited for his lungs to collapse after he had been walking for over an hour, but nothing happened. So it seemed really true that he had no health issues here. This was really Wonderland, at least concerning his health.

“We'll reach the point soon,” Nino said while he turned to him. He had a sheepish grin around his lips, but there was something like fear and worry in his eyes. Was he bothered by the thing he’d show Aiba now?

They reached a small hill where they had a nice view over Wonderland.

The view over Wonderland’s landscape was amazing. Aiba had seen a few beautiful places, but he had never seen anything like this before. The trees were sparkling in the sun and there were several colours mixing into something peaceful and calm. Just a dark cloud and some dried trees on the left side disturbed the beautiful view.

“Over there is the enemy?” Aiba asked.

“Yes.”

“What can we do to stop this?” Aiba could see Nino shrugging. He took a closer look at the area and saw a small field not far away from them. There was bench and some… graves? Was this the thing Jun wanted to show him? Something in Aiba twitched and pulled almost painfully. “What’s this down there?”

Nino smiled at him almost sadly. “It’s the reason you were able to come here.” Nino gave him a sign to walk down and waited not far away at the bench. It seemed that he wanted Aiba to experience this moment alone. He stepped to the small stones which had names written on them. “Alice, Lewis, Masaki…” Aiba gulped. The last stone had his name on it?

Suddenly he felt a terrible sting crossing his head. He could remember. He had been in hospital when his lungs collapsed, and he… he… hadn't woken up anymore. “I am dead?” Aiba turned to Nino.

“Yes,” Aiba heard Jun’s voice from not far away. He came down the hill and stepped next to Aiba. Nino had his gaze lowered like he didn’t dare to look at Aiba. “That’s why I was able to bring you here.”

“So, when I try to get back to my world I will be dead?” Aiba asked. So it wasn’t necessary to go back, because he was already gone? And it didn’t matter if he died here, because it wouldn’t change anything?

Jun nodded. “You collapsed twice, and I still believe in what I told you. You are strong, just that you were meant to go at this point.”

“So what happens if I decide to go home?” Aiba wanted to know.

“You’ll vanish.”

“But you said that Lewis Carroll came here and got back to his world to write the book, so he wasn’t dead at all?” Aiba asked.

Jun laughed out. “Oh believe me, he was already dead before he really died. He had strange drug excesses, and I don’t think he survived much longer after he got back to your world.”

“And Alice?”

“She was a nice girl, but she had a certain illness. She also died before she came here, but she didn’t want to remain here and get back to her parents. I couldn’t stop her from leaving,” Jun sounded sad.

Aiba sighed. He had a feeling that something was wrong, but he didn’t believe that it was that bad. “So I have the chance to stay here?”

Jun shrugged. “Yes, if everyone else is alright with it, you are allowed to.” He tilted his head. “We just don’t know how to convince the Queen of Hearts to make someone stay, but that’s not the problem now. Because if this evil thing over there is really coming to get us, no one remains here, and we are all going to die.”

So Aiba’s only chance to stay somehow alive was to stay here? It made him sad, though he already started liking it here. But his old world? And his friends? Or did he really have no friends there at all? “Will someone miss me in my world?”

Jun looked away from him and didn’t say anything. Right in the moment he opened his mouth Aiba stopped him. “I already know that I had a sad life, and no one liked me back in my world.”

“Come.” Jun took Aiba’s hand and pulled him along through the wood till they reached some fruit trees. “You need to taste this.”

Aiba was thankful that Jun wanted to distract him, but there were too many thoughts running through his head. What if he really needed to save this place so that he could stay here? But he wasn’t from Wonderland, it wasn’t his world, so wouldn’t he be an intruder? Would others accept him? Or was it better to just give up and end everything?

Aiba felt Jun’s hand squishing his. He hadn’t realized that the other was still holding his hand after all. He looked at Jun who gave him a big smile Aiba could have gotten lost in. “I know it’s a lot for you to bear, but believe me, everyone will welcome you here… maybe except the Queen … she probably wants your head, but you know the story…”

“It’s just… a little too much.” Aiba shook his head. He had the feeling that everything around him started spinning. He let Jun guide him to a nice place under a big tree. Farer away Aiba could see Nino lying on a tree, his eyes closed and his tail wiggling slowly. He was probably already sleeping again.

“I understand that.” Jun looked at Aiba directly. “But please don’t be mad at me or Nino that we brought you here,” Jun sighed. “We are desperate, Aiba. We need help and we don’t know what to do anymore. We are meant to die, but we want to live. So our offer to everyone is to stay here in change for their help against the evil. Just that Alice wanted to go back to her parents before she had finished her task, and Lewis was… let’s call it special.”

“I don’t get it.” Aiba brushed his hair. “Why me?”

“I saw you in the mirror, and I knew that you were perfect for this. Your eyes were strong, and you had a strong will, even though your body couldn’t bear it.” Jun smiled. “And I liked how you look like.”

Now Aiba had to laugh about how casual Jun’s last sentence sounded. “Thank you, I guess,” he finally said. Aiba realized that he was still holding Jun’s hand, but he didn’t care about it. It felt nice and warm, and it calmed Aiba down somehow.

“I really want to ask you for your help, Aiba-san.” Jun got earnest. “We really need you. I think you have a great sense for people and their feelings, and I am sure you saw that we are all at the end with our strength. We tried so much, but everything failed. We lost some companions, and I really don’t want to risk anything anymore.” He gave Aiba a smile. “And I am sure that you are the right one for this. I know it. Even Sho believes in you.”

“Really?” Aiba blinked. “It pretty much seems like he hates me.”

Jun laughed out. “No, he is always like that, because he doesn’t like new people. He is used to us, and he wants it to stay like this, but I am sure that he likes you. Same goes for Ohno.” Jun turned to look at Nino. “And I don’t need to talk about Nino. He is already addicted to your scratching, which is pretty unusual, because he only let me touch him before. So I guess you are his owner, or something like that?”

Aiba saw Nino turning on his back, his eyes still closed. “You mean I need to take care of him, like a pet?”

“No,” Jun said. “He is human after all, but he needs a lot of attention, and he loves scratching, so you need to get used to this, if you really stay here.”

Aiba nodded. Oh, he could get used to this, Nino calmed him down after all. And then there was Jun’s aura which made Aiba feel a little seasick, but not in a bad way. It was more like riding a rollercoaster. Was he falling for Jun here? “I think I could handle this.”

“So you'll think about staying?” Jun asked, his eyes suddenly shining.

“Yes,” Aiba promised, and he really would think about it. He could see Jun moving, before he hugged him, pressing him against Jun’s chest.

“Thank you so much.”

~~~

Aiba couldn’t find a single moment of rest. He turned from left to right and back in his bed. The moon lightened the garden and Aiba could see the big table from his window. He blinked when he saw a shadow rushing around there. His heartbeat increased. Was this the enemy? Had they come here already? Aiba had never had courage, but now he slipped out of his bed to the corridor. He took the umbrella, which leaned against the counter and opened the door slightly.

It was calm outside, and the wind blew softly. He stepped outside and sneaked over to the table when someone bumped into him. Aiba raised the umbrella and wanted to hit the other one, but stopped when he saw the big ears next to him. “Sho-san?”

“Ouch,” the other complained. “Yes.”

“What are you doing out here at night?” Aiba wanted to know. He stretched his hand to help the hare standing up, but Sho refused.

“Not your business.” Sho glanced at him.

“Listen, I know you don’t like me, but I thought about helping you, and maybe I will try it,” Aiba explained. He had thought the whole night about Jun’s words, and he knew that his heart had already decided to stay here, even though his mind still tried tricking him.

Sho moved to the table and sat down there. “You think I don’t like you?” He shook his head. “No, that’s not true.” He looked up at Aiba and he could see something like despair in Sho’s eyes. “Everyone who wanted to help us ran away after some weeks. And I'm just not in the mood to trust anyone again.”

“But I will try.” Aiba sat next to Sho. “Really.”

Sho shook his head. He really must have seen a lot of people leaving Wonderland without caring about the people here. “Everyone said that. But you know, I have never seen Jun that enthusiastic before. He really thinks you are the right one. And I really hope you won’t disappoint him and us.”

“I will give my best.” Aiba smiled at the hare. “But what are you doing out here?” Aiba asked again.

“Oh.” Sho grinned brightly. “It’s Ohno’s birthday tomorrow, and I'm preparing everything for it.”

“Really?” Aiba looked around. “May I help you?”

Aiba could see Sho’s ears move. He had the feeling that he was thinking about what to say. Sho didn’t trust him, Aiba knew that, but he wanted to make Sho believe in him. Okay, he really didn’t need to think about what to do anymore, he had already decided about it. He would stay and try his best to help the people around here.

“You know that you are dead?” Sho suddenly asked.

Aiba nodded. “Jun and Nino made me see it.”

Sho nodded. “It’s sad, isn’t it?”

Aiba blinked. He hadn’t thought about it, because actually he didn’t feel like he was dead after all, but Sho was right. Was it sad? Was there someone crying because he was gone? His parents had died years ago and he didn't have any relatives and he doubted that his friends noticed that he was gone. Maybe some colleagues would bring flowers to his grave? But they wouldn’t cry. “No, it’s not,” Aiba finally said. “I rather had a sad life and now it’s better?” He added. Was it really this way?

Sho tilted his head. “Now this sounds really sad.”

Aiba shrugged. Yes, it did sound sad, but it was also a bit his fault that his life had gone this way. He was a loner and he had decided to cut off every bond he had when he had left school, so it was his decision to live the life he had, but now? He liked other people around him and he felt good. Maybe he really started changing here. “No, it’s okay. I start liking it here.”

Aiba could see Sho’s lips turning into a short smile and his eyes sparkled for a moment. Was there something like hope covering his face? “You can help me place the plates on the table,” Sho just said without talking further about Aiba and his life. Maybe he didn’t want to be all happy just to get disappointed again, and Aiba could understand him. He himself had gotten disappointed various times in his life.

He took the plates and followed Sho around the table, placing the plates between the cutleries. When they were done with everything the sun was already rising and Aiba could see Nino approaching from under a tree. He looked sleepy, and he rubbed his eyes when he walked up to them.

“Wow, Sho let you help him?” Nino said with a smile. “He must really trust you, because he didn’t even let me help him.”

Aiba could see Sho blushing. “Oh, shut up Cheshire Cat.” Nino giggled and walked up to Sho, poking his cheeks.

“He is red, right?” Nino poked him again.

Aiba smiled at them. He felt good, but also really tired. He hid his yawn behind his hand, but the others looked at him. “You go back to bed for some more rest, and I will help Sho,” Nino suggested, but Sho shook his head immediately.

“No, I will do this alone,” he insisted.

Some rest sounded nice and Aiba left them without listening to their bickering about the table and help any more. He slipped into his room and let himself fall back on his bed. Okay, he had made his decision: he’d stay here, no matter what. With that Aiba fell asleep.

~~~

Aiba had the feeling that someone was stroking his head. He could feel a warm breath tickling his neck before he felt a kiss on his cheek and finally on his lips. It felt so warm and good and Aiba could feel something in him jumping up and down happily. He had always longed for some warmth and someone who’d take care of him, but he had never had the chance to find someone who fit – damn sickness.

He opened his eyes, but there was no one in his room. He looked to the side and saw that the other part of his bed was used, so someone had slept there? But who? And why didn’t Aiba notice that there was a secret visitor? And he had been kissed by someone? Was this not only a dream? Aiba was confused.

He slipped out of his bed and took a long and cold shower to refresh his still sleepy body. He felt tired, but not like he had felt in his world. It wasn’t tiredness because his body was weak – no, it was tiredness because he could finally relax.

The others were already waiting outside, but to Aiba’s surprise Sho didn’t mention that he was late again. They sat around the table and a big cake was placed in the middle of it. It looked like double chocolate and white cream cake. God, Aiba felt his stomach grumble. He really needed something to eat. Now.

He sat next to Jun and bowed when he handed Aiba a cup of tea and a plate with cake. “It’s Ohno’s birthday today. It’s great that we all came together again, so Ohno-san, do you want to say something?” Jun asked with a smile.

Ohno nodded. “I just hope that we can celebrate more than this one birthday together.” Aiba could see that everyone was staring down at their plates and for a moment it got quiet.

“I am sure about it,” Aiba said, making everyone look at him. He didn’t like being the centre of attention and so he blushed. “I will do whatever I need to do for this world.”

Aiba could feel Jun’s hand around his neck and suddenly he found himself in a tight embrace. On the other side he could see Nino approaching him, poking his sides with his finger. “Scratching please.”

Aiba dissolved from Jun and waited till Nino sat next to him and let his finger brush over Nino’s ears. He knew what Nino wanted to say with his plea, and Aiba understood that he just wasn’t good with any kind of words, but that was okay. “So it’s time to drink some honey liquor and celebrate the whole day,” Ohno suggested and stood up to probably bring the drinks.

“I am happy to hear that,” Sho said with a bow. “We will help you with everything you need.” He was stoic and there was hardly any emotion escaping him, but the tiny movement of his ears and his slightly sparkling eyes were enough for Aiba to know that Sho too was happy about his decision.

“I am so happy that you decided to stay and help us, really,” Jun whispered at him, and Aiba could feel some goosebumps on his skin when Jun’s breathe tickled his neck. He knew this scent – was it Jun approaching him in the night? He thought it had been be Nino, but the Cheshire Cat seemed to prefer sleeping in the giant tree not far away from Jun’s house, and the others hardly ever entered Jun’s home. Somehow it was creepy, and Aiba didn’t know if he should freak out, but probably it was the best thing to keep quiet – at least for now. He needed to check if it really was Jun.

Aiba scanned the Mad Hatter. He was definitely good-looking and Aiba wouldn’t complain about sleeping in one bed with him, but maybe it was just his imagination tricking him? What the hell was he thinking here? Did he really think about a relationship or a one-night stand with Jun? Aiba shook his head.

“What are you thinking about?” Ohno asked when he placed the glass on the table.

Aiba blushed. He couldn’t tell the others about his thoughts. “I wondered what will come next? What shall I do? And am I really able to help you?”

“Well, you have to go there and defeat this guy,” Ohno said with a short shrug.

“But how?” Aiba wanted to know. “It’s not that I am soooo trained or skilled in fighting against someone.”

“No one here is, but we’ll try our best to help you,” Sho said. “And we experienced that there is something that might help you.”

“What’s that?” Aiba looked at Sho, whose ears were moving back and forth.

“This guy is human. He isn’t from our world.” This was some nice information, but why should this help Aiba?

“And?” Aiba asked.

“That means that there is a way to kick him out, and maybe there is a way to make him stay away from here forever,” Nino answered instead of Sho. “If you manage to make him eat a special poison, you can make him vanish from here, and you ban him.”

Aiba shook his head. No, he absolutely didn’t understand a word. “So it’s kind of like the cookie which makes me grow?”

“Something like that, yes. We can’t give it to him, because we can’t approach him. That’s why we need you,” Jun explained. He smiled at Aiba, and he had the feeling that he could get lost in that smile. God, he really got insane here.

Aiba looked directly at Jun. He gulped before he started talking. “Is he like me?”

“You mean if he is dead?” Jun asked softly. He placed his hand on Aiba’s. “We don’t know, but Masaki, you aren’t dead, you are wonderland-alive.” Jun laughed and something in Aiba jumped. He could have felt depressed, but he felt good. It was not that bad being dead when there was something like Wonderland.

Aiba nodded. He could see the others also smiling at him. He would have never believed that he would feel good here, but he started really liking it, and he didn’t want something happening to Wonderland – not when he thought about staying here. “So you want me to go to him, make him drink something and then everything will be alright again?”

“We don’t know,” Jun said. “But his appearance brought a lot of misery and death to our country, so we hope that it will change when he is gone.” Jun withdrew his hand from Aiba’s and clapped. “But now we celebrate Satoshi’s birthday.” He stood up to take a bottle from the table and filled each glass with a slightly golden liquid. “It’s honey wine, you’ll love it.”

Aiba didn’t remember when he had drunk alcohol for the last time. He was never allowed to drink something because of his sickness, and now he was free – he really was. He had to prevent himself from crying. The taste of the wine was sweet and soon he felt a little dizzy because of it.

Soon Aiba laughed together with the others, chatting with each of them, and he was even joking with Sho. He couldn’t remember at what time he got back to his bed, it was for sure late in the evening, because there were already fireflies flying in the air.

He felt tipsy and when he lay down, he had to put one leg out of the bed, because he had the feeling that everything around him was spinning. He could hear the door open and someone slipped into the room. He turned to look at the door and he already wanted to rob to the side to make place for the Cheshire Cat, but it wasn’t Nino visiting him.

“Jun?” Aiba asked. He sat up.

He could see the other leaning against the door, a small smile curling his lips, but he didn’t seem overjoyed. “Can I?” He pointed at the bed, and Aiba just nodded.

Jun sat on the edge and looked at the floor. “Why are you here?” Aiba wanted to know.

Jun turned to him. “It’s sometimes really lonely here.”

“But you have Nino and Sho, and Ohno.” Aiba felt his belly jump. God, he wanted to hug the other, but he wasn’t sure if Jun would allow this. He seemed rather strict when it came to body contact, but on the other side he felt lonely, so maybe he needed someone to hold him?

“That’s different. Ohno has kind of taken care of Sho, and Nino is all in for scratching and sleeping in one bed with you, but he really isn’t someone who feels more than this for someone else,” Jun explained.

“You want to say that you long for a relationship?” Aiba asked. His heartbeat increased. He didn’t know the other. But every relationship started with getting to know each other, right?

“I long for… interaction and for real feelings.” Jun looked directly at Aiba. “Can you imagine liking me? Because most humans can’t.”

Aiba tilted his head. Humans didn’t like Jun, but why? He looked gentle and nice. Okay, in Carroll’s story the Mad Hatter was strange, but Jun wasn’t. He was… human-like. “Why don’t they like you?”

Jun shrugged. “Maybe I am strange, I mean there are a humans with cat ears, rabbit ears and tails in my garden.” He laughed out. “And I think I can be really grumpy sometimes when you ask me something in the wrong moment. And I live in a country called Wonderland, that isn’t a plus point for me.”

“I like it here,” Aiba said. He knew he sounded honest, because he was. The smile Jun gave him was mesmerizing. He couldn’t have imagined that it would be better than his ‘normal’ smile, but this indeed was.

“Really?” Jun said. “You are the first one saying this. Everyone else wanted to disappear from here as fast as possible.”

Aiba could understand that most wanted to leave when they had a family at home – or when they still were alive, but him? He didn’t have anything left in the real world. “Everyone who comes here…” he started. “Are they dead or sick?”

Jun shook his head. “No, I mean… yes.” He slipped further onto the bed. “I choose the people and I choose the ones with a strong will, and sick people often have strong willpower to survive.”

“And they all had a family or someone who waited at home?” Aiba asked. He could feel some tears in his eyes when Jun nodded slowly. “God, I really had a sad life.”

Jun took Aiba’s hand like he had already done at the party. “It’s not your fault, Masaki. You have been sick for almost your whole life, you had no chance of an own family or a lot of friends.”

Jun’s thumb brushed the back of Aiba’s hand and he could feel his skin getting warmer under Jun’s touch. It was indeed nice to feel someone, and Aiba never wanted to admit it, but he wished for some warmth given from someone else. He intertwined his fingers with Jun’s and smiled at him. “Thank you for bringing me here.” Jun’s eyes sparkled like he had never heard something like this before, which was probably the truth.

Aiba got a little insecure, because he didn’t know how to act now. What did Jun want? Would he really try getting closer to Aiba? But before he could think about it, he felt Jun shifting and soon his lips brushed Aiba’s. He immediately knew who the stranger from the last nights had been. These had definitely been Jun’s lips.

Aiba could feel Jun stopping like he wanted to check if it was really okay to kiss Aiba. Aiba leaned forward to get closer to Jun and when he felt Jun’s hand on his waist, he let himself being pulled into a hug. He could feel Jun biting on his lower lip softly, making him open his mouth a little bit to let Jun’s tongue slip into it. Their tongues danced around each other and their kiss deepened. Aiba could have got lost in it.

He let himself being pulled on his back, and soon he could feel Jun hovering above him.

Aiba had had a relationship before, but it had been long ago and he had never felt really good about it. But now it was different, he let himself being pulled in this feeling. Jun’s hands discovered Aiba’s body and soon he found himself naked under Jun, who started kissing down his body.

Aiba tore at Jun’s pants till he could open them and pulled them down Jun’s legs. He smiled at Aiba, kissing him deeply before he stood up to get undressed. Aiba stared at Jun and he could have looked at Jun for a whole day. He was not too trained, but also not too thin – he was perfect. Jun smiled at him before he climbed back onto the bed, rubbing his crotch against Aiba’s.

Aiba moaned when he felt their cocks brushing against each other. It made him much more aroused than he had already been. Aiba wrapped his hands around Jun’s waist to get him closer to his body, making every space between them disappear. When Aiba felt Jun’s lips nibbling on his neck, it was like little electric impulses rushing through Aiba’s body.

Jun’s hands stroked Aiba’s sides. He then drew small circles with his fingers around Aiba’s hips. He robbed to the side and let his hand trail up and down Aiba’s belly. “I want you,” Jun said.

His hand reached to the side till he found a small bottle in the nightstand. He took the lube and sat up on his knees. Aiba smiled at him when he opened it and spread some on his fingers. “Tell me if you want me to stop,” Jun said with a smile.

“I don’t think that’ll happen,” Aiba replied. He sat up and pulled Jun into a kiss before he lay back and waited till Jun circled his first finger around Aiba’s hole. Aiba moaned loudly when the digit went in, spreading his inside with a slight burning pain.

He pressed his eyes together and bit on his lower lip when Jun started moving his finger. Aiba felt Jun shifting. He felt the other’s lips on his. “Look at me, Masaki. Does it hurt too much?” Aiba opened his eyes and shook his head.

“No, go on.” Aiba breathed out. Jun started preparing him further till he could move three fingers in Aiba easily. He removed them and leaned forward, pressing his cock against Aiba’s entrance.

“I will be careful,” Jun breathed into Aiba’s neck. He slowly slipped into Aiba till he was completely inside him. Jun stopped moving for a moment till Aiba bucked his hips slowly, symbolizing Jun to move.

They soon found a fast rhythm together while they got totally lost in their own world. Aiba pressed Jun against his body. He wanted to feel every inch of him. Jun’s moves got faster and Aiba was sure that he was close, like Aiba himself was. “Please,” Aiba moaned, looking up at Jun.

Jun smiled at him and leaned a little back to get a hold of Aiba’s dick. He started stroking him with fast moves till Aiba could feel everything in him burning. His belly seemed to explode and his eyes were pressed together. This moment was almost enough for Aiba. He loved it, and he could feel an enormous tension fading in him. And he had the feeling of being alive, even though he wasn’t.

Aiba yelled out when he found his release. He arched his back and tried to stay with Jun till he could feel the other breathing out deeply, a deep growl escaping Jun’s mouth and he finally collapsed on Aiba.

They stayed like that for a moment till Jun leaned on his hands to see Aiba underneath him. He placed a kiss on Aiba’s nose. “Thank you.”

Aiba grinned at Jun. He let his finger wander over Jun’s face. “No, I thank you.”

Jun chuckled. “Okay, how about a shower and then a good sleep?”

Aiba nodded. “Sounds perfect.” He yawned and let Jun pull him out of the bed to get a shower.

When they lay in the bed later on, Aiba had a smile around his face. He enjoyed Jun’s hands around his waist, pulling him into a warm hug. It was the first time Aiba felt content and just good. He had made the right decision.

~~~

Aiba woke up in the morning, and he already feared that he had dreamed this all, but when he turned and saw Jun sleeping next to him, he knew it hadn't been a dream. Jun smiled in his sleep and he seemed relieved. Aiba had feared that he would regret it or that it would have been the wrong decision, but it definitely wasn’t. It was like a missing piece in Aiba was now there – in the right place in his heart. It felt just good.

He just needed to help Wonderland get rid of this guy, and everything would be alright again. He sighed – this was easier said than done.

“Hey,” Aiba heard Jun saying. He turned to his side to face the other.

“Hey.” Aiba smiled. How long had he longed for waking up next to someone? Someone who looked at him like Jun did now.

“What's bothering you?” Jun brushed Aiba’s cheek. He stopped. “Do you regret this?”

Aiba shook his head. “No, not a single second, but I still worry that I won't be able to help you.”

Jun leaned closer, kissing Aiba’s lips. “I am sure you can do this.”

Aiba didn’t know why, but Jun’s words gave him strength, and he really believed that he could do this. He felt Jun shifting closer, his hands wrapped around Aiba, and soon they both fell asleep again.

~~~

“It smells like sex in here,” Nino said when he came into the kitchen. He stopped. “Oh my god, it doesn’t just smell like it – it happened.” He smiled brightly.

Aiba was sure he blushed, but Jun was the Mad Hatter again. “And?” He said dryly like nothing could ever disturb him.

“Nothing.” Nino shrugged. “I am just… happy.”

Aiba could see Jun pulling one eyebrow up. “Well, thank you.”

With that the talk ended, because Nino would for sure not ask again – not if he didn’t want to be killed by Jun.

“Nino, please take Aiba-chan and search for some plants out there. We need them for the cookies,” Jun explained.

“Cookies?” Aiba asked.

“Yes, I thought about your words from yesterday. Maybe we can make poison cookies,” Jun said and took a sip of the tea. “We send you to this guy with the cookies and hope for the best.”

“You really think that it'll work?” Aiba asked.

“I am not sure yet, but we’ll try our best. Go now, I need to think of some things,” Jun said almost harshly. Now Aiba knew why people didn’t want to get in contact with Jun. He could sound cold and unfriendly, even though he probably was just stuck in his thoughts and he needed a clear mind. Aiba understood that, but nevertheless it hurt him a bit that Jun was so distanced out of sudden.

“Okay, till later,” Aiba said, but Jun wasn’t listening to him anymore.

~~~

“And you really have something going on with Jun?” Nino asked when they were in the wood, somewhere farer away from Jun’s house where he wasn’t able to hear them anymore.

“Is it normal that Jun is so cold towards someone even though he was total different some moments ago?” Aiba asked without answering Nino’s question.

“Do you know why Jun is here, Aiba?” Nino asked.

“No.” Aiba had never thought about it. “Isn’t he from here?”

Nino shook his head. His ears moved a little excitedly. “He is or was human. He was born in your world, and he came here after someone… he liked… had died ages ago.” Nino stepped to Aiba. “He is really broken, Aiba-san. But he deserves to be happy. He is a nice guy, he just forgot about it during the last years. He was only in contact with us after all.”

Nino smiled. “And he is only used to some scratching for the best Cheshire Cat ever.” He giggled.

Aiba rolled his eyes. “Of course, the best Cheshire Cat.” But he had to laugh too. Nino was really able to lighten his mood.

They kept silent for a moment, before Nino turned to him again. “Please be patient with Jun and don’t play with him, he is really good-hearted.”

Aiba raised his hand and scratched Nino’s ears, earning a sweet purr. “Don’t worry, I will.”

They walked through the forest and collected various herbs and flowers. Aiba couldn’t say how long they had been in the forest, but when they returned to the house he could already feel his stomach grumble.

“You are back,” Sho said from his seat at the table. He pulled out his clock. “You are late.”

“Yeah, like always,” Nino grunted. He took his place on the table and Aiba had the feeling he just did this to annoy Sho a little more.

“Where is Jun?” Aiba wanted to know.

“In the house,” Ohno said when he stepped out of there. “But you should talk with him, I guess he's waiting for you.” Ohno smiled at him, but it was a worried smile, Aiba immediately saw this. His heartbeat increased and he walked into the house, calling Jun’s name.

“Upstairs,” he just heard Jun’s voice. He walked up to Jun’s room, and knocked on the door, which wasn’t completely closed.

“Come in,” Jun said and Aiba pushed the door open to walk into Jun’s bedroom. He sat in a big chair at the window and stared outside. He looked pale.

“What happened?” Aiba asked. He walked up to Jun and knelt in front of him. Jun looked down at him, his brown eyes looking sad and empty.

“I don’t know what to do,” Jun admitted.

“Do what?”

Jun stroked Aiba’s head. “If I really send you to this guy, I am not sure if you’ll return. And if I don’t send you we are all meant to die. I just don’t know what the better decision is.”

Aiba’s heart clenched. Of course he wanted to stay, and he wanted to stay with Jun, but if it meant he’d die, there was no chance to change that. Actually he was already dead, and maybe it would be his end, but he would know that he had saved a lot of others by doing it. “Of course I go, don’t be stupid. We need to try this. The life of Wonderland is in danger, and that’s why I am here, so no chance to hold me back now.”

Jun sighed. “I feared that you’d say this.”

Aiba took Jun’s hand in his. “Why did you come here, Jun?”

“This stupid cat, always talking…” Jun grumbled. He rubbed his face. “Someone I loved died and I couldn’t stand it. I tried killing myself, and ended here.”

“You succeeded?” Aiba wondered.

“Seems so.” Jun nodded. For a moment he looked broken and pale and Aiba just leaned forward to pull Jun into an embrace.

“I won’t die – again,” Aiba said firmly. Of course he couldn’t be sure about it, but it wasn’t his plan. “I promise.”

“You can’t promise that,” Jun’s breath tickled Aiba’s neck. He stroked down Aiba’s back. “But thank you.”

“How about going to the others now, before they might think we do some adult stuff here,” Aiba chuckled. He wanted to lighten Jun’s mood, and it seemed to work, because the other gave him a big – almost naughty – grin.

“They shall think what they want,” he said and pulled Aiba into a kiss.

~~~

Jun and Aiba joined the others in the garden after a few more or less innocent kisses. Aiba could see the others smiling at them. Sho seemed relaxed, Ohno sipped at his tea and Nino let his tail swing left and right contently. They seemed calm, maybe because Jun was calmer now? Or just because Aiba promised to help them?

“We have all the herbs,” Nino said, his eyes half-closed. “We can prepare the poison, and tomorrow we can send Aiba there.”

“Sounds good, the sooner the better,” Sho agreed.

Only Ohno looked at Jun and then at Aiba. Aiba had thought that Ohno was the most absent-minded among them, but he seemed really sensitive about feelings and situations. “Everything will be okay.”

Jun and Aiba nodded simultaneously. “Let’s hope for the best,” Aiba said encouragingly. He was nervous and of course he feared to die, but he’d do this. And he’d succeed – he needed to.

~~~

Later in the evening it was only Jun and Aiba sitting in Jun’s bed, looking out of the window. They kept silent and just looked at the moon in the sky. “I really think I am falling for you, Masaki. And I fear that will end no good.” Jun turned to Aiba, his desperate and sad expression was back.

Aiba got stubborn. No, he didn’t want to believe that this would end soon. That couldn’t happen, and that wouldn’t happen. “I will come back, Jun. And everything will be alright.”

“And you really think you want to stay here?” Jun asked.

Aiba nodded. “I have no one left in my world, and in the end I would die, right?”

Jun nodded. “But there is no one you miss in your world?”

Aiba shook his head. He bit his lips when a sudden sadness overwhelmed him. “I was alone.”

“That’s sad,“ Jun said. He robbed closer and let his head rest on Aiba’s shoulder. “Here you aren’t.” Aiba felt Jun’s lips on his neck, placing some butterfly kisses there.

“Is that a reason you chose me, because no one would miss me?” Aiba knew this question was probably unfair or harsh, but he needed to know.

Jun looked at him. He took Aiba’s face between his hands, staring at him intensely. “Listen, Masaki. I chose you because I saw that you are strong, even though you were sick. Of course I saw that you had hardly any visitors, and you know, that was a reason, yes. I didn’t want someone here who would suffer because of his or her family. But that has nothing to do with my feelings now. I didn’t bring you here to satisfy my needs in the first place. I thought you are the right one to save us, and when you came here, my feelings immediately changed, that’s why…” Jun stopped for a moment. “Why I don’t want you to do this anymore. I don’t want you to go or vanish.” Jun let go of Aiba’s face. “But if you hate me because of my decision, it’s okay.”

Aiba shook his head. He really appreciated Jun’s honesty, and it wasn’t Jun’s fault that Aiba had had a sad life when he had been alive. “It’s okay. I just wanted to know the truth.”

“Let’s go to sleep. Tomorrow will be a hard day,” Jun said with a smile. He seemed relieved, and somehow Aiba had the feeling that he was glad that Aiba had asked this question. It felt like everything was said between them – it felt just good.

~~~

“So you’ll go to his house and try to talk with him. Offer him the cookies and let’s see what happens.” Ohno stepped to Aiba, handing him a package with cookies.

“Probably he will refuse,” Nino said. “But he is human, like you are, and you can maybe convince him, or earn his trust.”

Aiba took the item Ohno and Sho had made the last evening when everyone was already asleep. Nino stood next to Aiba, brushing his tail over Aiba’s arm to get his attention for some touches before he stepped to the tree not far away. “No one should see that he doesn’t want you to do this,” Ohno whispered. “He really likes you, not like Jun, but you know what I mean…”

Aiba nodded. Yes, he understood. Nino had become a friend and he would become a better friend, if Aiba would succeed, he was sure about it. “And I am sure that Sho likes you too, even though you are always late,” Ohno chuckled. “And I want you to stay.” He placed his hand on Aiba’s shoulder.

“For us and for Jun,” he added.

“Thank you,” Aiba said with a bow, and he was again close to tears.

“We'll see you back here in the evening,” Ohno said and walked up to Sho, who had taken his place at the table.

Aiba turned to look at Jun, who was leaning against the doorframe. He walked up to him and stopped right in front of Jun. “I'll go now, before I can’t leave this place.”

“You will be back tonight, right?” Jun asked, but it was more worry in his voice than an actual question.

“Sure,” Aiba said with a smile, even though he wasn’t sure about it at all. “I promised, and I always keep what I promise.”

“That’s good, and don’t you dare to disappoint me.” Jun poked Aiba’s belly, and looked down. He obviously didn’t want to face Aiba right now.

“Hey,” Aiba stepped closer till he was able to whisper into Jun's ear. “Keep smiling, I will be back in no time.”

Jun looked at him and placed a kiss on Aiba’s lips before he turned to walk into the room. He didn’t want anyone to see his tears, but Aiba couldn't help seeing them, being himself a crybaby.

“I'll be back in a few hours, so wait for me with your tea,” Aiba said loudly before he bowed and left through the forest Nino had shown him the day before. He knew it would be a long walk to get there, but he was confident, and he knew what he wanted. He wanted to save this world, and he’d make it. This time he wouldn’t fail like he had with his illness.

Aiba got more nervous when the light forest got darker and the trees prevented the sun from shining down to the ground. This was an unfriendly area, and Aiba wished to be back at Jun’s place, sitting together with everyone in the garden, drinking a nice cup of tea.

The path he walked on got smaller and at one point Aiba wasn’t sure if there still was a path or if it was just wild forest where someone once had walked. He knew that the house of this guy wasn’t far away – somehow he could feel his presence and a dark aura started surrounding him.

Aiba climbed up a small hill where the forest ended. He looked down at a house and his nervousness rose. There was no visible danger, but he could feel that this place was definitely not friendly. The one who lived there was full of hate. Aiba couldn’t say why he knew that, because he hadn’t any special ability, but already back in hospital he had good instincts for feelings from the others. He thought about returning without going down there, but when he thought about the others and about their world Aiba started walking without thinking too much about it. He just didn’t know what to do. Should he just knock there? How should he convince the other to eat his cookies? He really had no plan for anything, but he didn’t want to think too much beforehand, otherwise he maybe wouldn’t have gone down there.

Aiba stood in front of the door and wanted to say something when the door opened and someone looked at him. Aiba gulped. That couldn’t be. That just couldn’t be true. “Jun?” He asked.

“Who wants to know that?” The man huffed. “Who are you?”

Aiba blinked. Who he was? Was Jun kidding him here? That couldn’t be, he thought again. How the hell did Jun come here, and why was he the man who wanted to destroy this world? “Aiba-chan.”

“Who?” The man said again.

Aiba shook his head. No, this wasn’t Jun. His eyes were dark and full of hate and his lips were small, pressed together like he wanted to shout any moment. This was definitely not the man he had left some hours ago.

“No one,” Aiba said with a smile. “I got lost, can you help me?” He didn’t want to pretend that he knew the other, because this was definitely not the plan, and he couldn’t tell this man, that he knew the guys of Wonderland.

“Lost?” The man stared at him. “You aren’t one of those losers, you are human.”

Aiba nodded. “I was in hospital, and now I am here.”

The man opened the door a little bit and let Aiba in. He wasn’t happy about his guest, but he let him pass. “You know that you died?”

Aiba turned to him. He hated to play a role, but he needed to do his best. “What?”

“You died and now you are here.” The man said. “And how do you know my name?”

Aiba felt the heat in him rising. A sudden thought hit him. Jun had told him about the hospital he had been in. He just hoped that this guy would believe him. “You were in Chiba’s hospital, right?” He just hoped that this was really… Jun? Or a part of him?

“And that’s how you know my name?” The man asked. He didn’t seem convinced.

“I saw you coming with the ambulance,” Aiba lied. “They said you lost a lot of blood. And someone called you Jun.” Aiba smiled. “I memorized your face, because you looked really beautiful, even though you were lying there.”

It was a weak lie, but Aiba didn’t know what to say. “Why am I here?” Aiba asked him.

The man sighed. “I have no idea.”

“Why are you here?” Now that would be the most important question. Was he here to destroy Wonderland? Aiba gulped. What would happen if he gave this Jun the cookie? Would the other Jun disappear too?

“I hated my life, and I hate who I am. I really wish everything would vanish,” he answered.

“That’s why you destroy Wonderland?” Oh no, Aiba shouldn’t have said that. This was no good.

“What?” The man suddenly stood up. “What did you say?” He came up to Aiba. “They sent you here, right? You shall destroy me.”

Aiba shook his head. The man grasped for Aiba’s hand, and it felt like a burning wound on Aiba’s skin. His skin where the man had touched him, turned deep red, and Aiba wanted to scream because of the pain he felt in this moment. “Why are you so angry?”

The man turned. “You don’t understand anything. You shouldn’t have come here. You should leave Wonderland.”

“Why?” Aiba asked again. He wouldn’t give up now.

“It’s my fault that I am here, and I wish I wouldn’t have come here,” the man blurted out. “I hate this place, and I want to see it disappear.”

Was this man really a part of Jun? “Why do you kill them?”

“They shouldn’t come here, they should stay away from my house,” he explained.

“So that you can plan to destroy their world?” Aiba asked, annoyed. “Don’t you understand that this is their home? They live here, and you are an intruder, you should leave.”

“He is happy here, right?” Jun turned to him. “I mean the other Jun.”

“What?” Aiba asked.

The man suddenly got calmer and sat at the table. “Jun. I mean the other part of me. He doesn’t know about me, but I guess he is happy here. And that’s wrong.”

Aiba shook his head. He didn’t understand this here. “You are one person but two parts?”

“When we died, we came here, and it seemed we split up. Did he tell you why we died?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“But I guess he didn’t tell you that we were torn between being alive and dying. And in the end his decision won, and I didn’t want to accept that,” the man said.

“Were you a split personality?” Aiba asked. He couldn’t imagine that Jun had been ill when he had been alive, but it sounded like that.

“No, we weren’t. It happened when we came here. I don’t know how.” He shrugged. “But now I am here, and I want him to suffer because of his decision.”

“But you’ll kill his friends and everything around here,” Aiba tried to convince the other.

“He killed us, and made a lot of people suffer because of it, he deserves to be guilty about something like this here.” He was certainly angry and enraged. He took Aiba’s wrist and pressed it. Again the terrible pain appeared on Aiba’s skin and it started burning like fire.

“That’s bad, you are no better than he is,” Aiba yelled out. “Next to the fact that Jun is kind and gentle, and he has friends here.”

The man laughed. “Jun had never had friends since he felt guilty about his friend’s death. He was unreachable, and no one could get close to him. He hid and one day he started thinking about ending everything, and here we are.”

“He is,” Aiba insisted stubbornly. “I know him.”

“You do?” The man blinked. He looked closer at Aiba. “You love him.”

Aiba could feel some tears burning in his eyes. No, he wouldn’t start crying now. “That doesn’t matter.” He yelled again when Jun touched his chest, making him feel like burning again.

“It does. It makes it much better for me. I don’t need to destroy everything, I destroy you and Jun will do the rest, like always,” the man laughed.

“Stop that,” Aiba heard a voice followed by a deep breath. He turned to see Jun standing at the door, his gaze lowered. He had problems with breathing, but his eyes were strong. “You did enough to us.”

“Oh, oh, oh, look who’s here, and who’s going to die soon, because no Wonderlander is able to survive my home. I already showed you when I killed your friends, right?”

Jun looked up. “I am not like them, I am a human, don’t forget that.”

“And what do you want to do? Make me a new hat?” He laughed. “Oh come one, Jun. The power I got is nothing compared to your small knowledge about herbs and plants. You can’t destroy me.”

“I did nothing wrong back then. It was my decision, and the small fear and guilt in me won’t destroy me, not back then and not now.” Jun stepped closer. Aiba just looked at them. The pain in his chest and arm was still terrible, but he tried ignoring it. He needed to help Jun somehow. This was getting more and more irritating, and he didn’t understand the whole situation yet, he just knew that he trusted his Jun, and he’d do everything to help him.

“You left your family behind, and all your friends. We had a good life, and everyone wanted to help you, and you threw everything away,” the wrong Jun said.

“I found my place now.” Jun came up to his twin and pressed him down on the seat. The man was visibly amused and Aiba was sure that Jun wouldn’t be able to stand him for too long. His evil self was really strong.

Aiba was sure that the cookies wouldn’t help in this situation, but he also didn’t know what else to do. He looked around in the kitchen till his sight fell on a picture on the cupboard. Aiba stood up and walked up there. “Who is this?”

Both Jun’s turned to him. “Our sister,” his Jun said.

“The one you left behind,” the other said.

Jun let his hands sink down. “I didn’t intend to hurt someone.” He turned. “She wasn’t part of our life, she lived far away. I…”

“You didn’t think of her,” the evil Jun insulted him.

“No, I didn’t,” he turned. “But I guess she isn’t sad beyond measure about my loss. She doesn’t even know me. That alone doesn’t give you the right to do this here. We made a lot of mistakes, but the end I have chosen was the right one, even though no one would ever understand it. I was lonely, and I didn’t want this anymore. And now I am here, and I have a good place with friends and…” he turned to Aiba. “Maybe something else. Don’t destroy that.” He bowed. “Please.”

Aiba blinked. Did Jun really plead the other to stop this? No, this wouldn’t work. For a moment something in the air changed. The evil Jun was thinking about it. He was insecure for just one moment, and the aura around him stopped.

Before Aiba could say something he heard a few noises and soon he saw the evil Jun sinking to the ground, wounded and about to die. Aiba looked at Nino and Sho, who stood next to Jun, each of them with a knife in their hands. “We've been waiting for this moment,” Nino said to Aiba with a smile.

“Some day, you will regret this,” the evil Jun pressed out. The other stepped to the body on the ground.

“I regret some choices every day, but that won’t ruin me,” Jun pressed out. He turned and left the house without looking back.

The evil Jun took some breaths before the last breath escaped his lips.

Aiba still stood there, looking at the corpse. What the hell happened in the last minutes here? “Come.” Aiba felt Nino’s hand around his, pulling him outside. “Jun's waiting for you.”

Aiba shook his head. Jun… he really wanted some answers now.

Aiba saw Jun sitting on the grass, staring into nothing. He nodded at Nino before he walked to Jun, sitting down next to him. “What, why, where, who, how, …?” Aiba smiled.

Jun looked at him. “You left and a bad feeling crossed my body. I didn’t know what it was and I followed you. I saw this guy from the window over there for the first time since he came here. I realized that my darkest nightmare had come true. My guilt was hunting me, trying to destroy me. I couldn’t let that happen. I knew that there was only one chance: I needed to defeat him on my own otherwise he wouldn’t vanish. I hoped to make his walls break down, so that Nino and Sho could react and kill him.” Jun smiled a little. “In the end he showed his weak – human – side.”

Aiba scratched his head. “I don’t get it.” He really didn’t. “Why were there two Jun’s? Are there also two Aiba’s around here?”

Jun shook his head. “I had thought about it, but I was always glad that it didn’t seem to happen – just that it happened now. I am not here because I died. I mean,” Jun started again. “I died, but I killed myself. I had an inner fight about my actions before I did this. That’s why my personality split after my death. You died because of your sickness. You didn’t choose death. That’s the big difference. My guilt wanted to destroy me, even here where I finally found peace. I just realized what was going on when I saw you here. It was my fault, and I didn’t recognized it at the beginning. I almost killed you.” Jun took Aiba’s hand and brushed his wounds. “I have a nice cream for this. I will take care of you from now on.” He looked at Aiba. “If you still want to be with me.”

Aiba smiled. Jun looked vulnerable and hurt, but the small smile symbolized calmness and relieve. “I do.”

Jun breathed out almost too loudly. “I am happy to hear that.”

Aiba let his head rest against Jun’s shoulder. He wouldn’t leave this place anytime soon. He had finally found a place where he had the feeling he belonged to. “You aren’t a bad person, Jun.” Aiba looked at the other. “A lot of people would say that you did something wrong and that your decision was stupid, and it maybe was, but you shouldn’t feel guilty anymore. Can you think of starting anew?”

Jun placed a kiss on Aiba’s forehead. “I would love to.”

Aiba looked up. “Then let’s start a new life here in Wonderland.” He brushed Jun’s lips before he kissed him.

~~~

Weeks had passed and Aiba had started feeling really good in this place. Jun had kept his promise and taken care of Aiba’s wounds and every other wish he had.

They sat together in the garden, sipping their tea. “I am happy that Wonderland is safe again,” Ohno said.

“Me too,” Nino said with a yawn. He stretched on the table, his head nudging Aiba’s hand. He smiled at Aiba and waited till Aiba let his hand wander over Nino’s ears again and then he started purring again loudly.

Even Sho seemed relaxed, and for the first time he didn’t have his clock with him. Jun sat next to Aiba, their hands intertwined.

“Can you tell me once more about the time Alice was here, Oh-chan?” Aiba asked. He loved listening to their stories, and he’d enjoy this for a long time from now on.

And they all lived happily ever after…

Date: 2017-09-05 12:24 am (UTC)
koi_choshi: (arashi letters)
From: [personal profile] koi_choshi
Spot! I'll leave a better comment soon but just to let you know, I enjoyed this story soooo much!

---

I'm back to share my thoughts! :D

I have always wanted an "Alice in Wonderland" themed fic with... yep... Aiba as Alice. As you pointed out, it's not really a retelling but it still excited me a lot! So thank you for this.

I really enjoyed Nino as the Cheshire Cat and the fact that he was acting more like a cat than a human (the image of Nino as a cat is cute... and the ears and tail too!) and letting Aiba scratch him like he's a real cat. I wondered if Nino was "Nino-sized" in here because, really, the image of a normal-sized cat-human Nino sprawled across Aiba's lap for a scratch is so adorable.

Sho is also another entertaining character! When he started with the "you're late" dialogue I was like, this is so Sho! Time-conscious Sho exaggerated to this level is so cute! And of course, imagining Sho with rabbit ears and tail is also wonderful. I think he met the character so well.

I thin for Ohno, I was able to see my request on where he is quiet but he is also a source of wisdom. He didn't speak a lot in this story but when he did, it's something that gave encouragement or information to Aiba. I really like this Duke. :Db

And of course, Jun and Aiba. At the beginning I was thinking, so who will be Jun in this? I was wondering if it's the Hatter or the Duke but I think being the Hatter is perfect, Jun being fashionable and all. I actually never expected that he was also human because the way he made clothes seemed too magical for a human (and this is where the twist is). And Aiba here had a sad life that it seems like Wonderland is a place that will give him a second chance. And in the end, we realize that Wonderland is also the place where Jun had his second chance to be happy.

I had a strange feeling that one of the 5 characters could be that "evil man" or maybe that the evil man came from the human world but still it was definitely amazing to find out who the actual culprit is. I even thought that the evil man was Aiba himself and he didn't know! And upon finding out the truth, I was silently worried that if Aiba gets rid of the evil man, Jun will also disappear (thankfully, he didn't!).

I had this image that no matter what kind of story it is, a Junba story is a cute and fluffy story... and for this, it is! Even with those sexy parts XD. Reading this also in Aiba's eyes, makes me know how he was slowly being pulled in by Jun and his gorgeousness and hidden gentleness. Yes, I really really enjoyed reading this piece and I am so happy to receive this from you. Thanks for your hard work, dear writer, and I'm excited to know who you are. :D
Edited Date: 2017-09-06 02:01 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-09-09 05:34 pm (UTC)
astrangestorm: (Default)
From: [personal profile] astrangestorm
There was a lot of underlying sadness here, but I'm glad that Jun and Aiba were able to find happiness and a new life together in Wonderland. My favorite bit was the twist about who the actual 'villain' threatening Wonderland was, I didn't expect it but it made a lot of sense!! I also like that even though Aiba was weak and sick in the 'human' world, he was able to find strength in Wonderland - both in his physical health and in his friendships with the others :)

Date: 2017-09-12 10:06 pm (UTC)
phrenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phrenk
This is so sad, but it finds a way to give some happiness too, phew. It was heartbreaking to see Aiba get to enjoy things he'd been denied for so long, only to realize he'd died... but now he's in Wonderland with people who care about him, and he saved everyone! It makes me happy to think he gets to stay there and have some of the contentment he missed in his human life. <3 Thank you for sharing!

Date: 2017-09-13 01:03 pm (UTC)
piggywhale: (Default)
From: [personal profile] piggywhale
This is so much fun, Anon-san! I only have basic idea about Alice in Wonderland but this is still a great fun, nonetheless. I like the idea that people who come to Wonderland are kinda dead (is it so in the original story?) It creates such depth to the story; even though it also makes everything a little sad and slightly gloomy. But with Aiba as the center of this story. Things can never be REALLY gloomy. He's such a cheerful and positive person despite his constant complaining that he doesn't have anyone that loves him back at home (no way! lol). I think it's really lovely that Aiba doesn't jump into heroic role right away. You did a fantastic job in showing how Aiba may have changed his mind over time. You show the new friendship that he gradually creates and the new relationship that he has with Jun. Aiba gradually warms to this world, where he decides he better off staying. And finally he decides to save it. I really love this!

A very special mention for how lovely the characterizations of Arashi members are in this story. Jun as mad-hatter is definitely a great fit. The image of the character is completely perfect for him. And of course, he would make a perfect dresses BY HAND. LoL That's our Jun, of course, no matter where or what he is. Nino is totally <3<3<3 here. He's so adorable and super cute. I love when he sleeps with Aiba - so cute! Sho's obsession to time and punctuality is absolutely hilarious. I actually laughed almost every time Sho shows up in the story :D And Ohno as the Duke (or Duchess) who may have been mistaken as bored and uninterested. lol that's definitely a great and fitting image for Ohno there :D

The twist in this story toward the end is also fantastic. I really like the idea that Jun's resentment and guilt is the evil in this story. And I love it even more when it resolves in the way that Jun moves on and accepts the fact that it's his guilt that has created the horror for Wonderland, but it's all in the past. It is a really refreshing way to resolve the situation. Great job, Anon-san!

At the end, I am so happy that they will live happily ever after. Thank you, Anon-san for this wonderful piece!!

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