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No Happiness to be Found

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Alice jumps up onto the kitchen countertop that Raven isn't using, munching on a piece of meat she'd filched out of the pot. Raven doesn't look at her; he just continues chopping vegetables under her supervision. She kicks her legs, not banging her heels against the drawers out of the pure benevolence of her spirit, but Raven's face is still tight and drawn around the eyes and mouth, like it has been since Oz went to sleep.

"What are you making?" she asks eventually. The kitchen is full of the smell of cooking meat, which usually means that Raven is being useful.

"Stew," Raven says, pushing what he's already chopped to one side and reaching for the carrots next to her. He's wearing a black jumper instead of his shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. She pokes at his bare forearms, just for the novelty of being able to see them, and he still ignores her. "Oz might be hungry when he wakes up, and this will keep until he's ready for it."

"He's not been hungry," Alice says. She looks at the pile of vegetables, makes a face, and takes one anyway. "He's been making the same face you have and not saying anything and nothing I can do cheers him up."

Raven puts the knife down and braces himself against the counter. He breathes in deep, squeezing his eyes shut; he looks like someone has punched him. It's better than how Oz looked, even when she was biting his face to make him happier; Oz just lay there like a dead thing, smile faint and eyes vacant, until she stopped trying.

Raven might still be worth trying to cheer up though.

Alice grabs the nearest chair and drags it over; Raven is still too tall. He watches her warily, but doesn't step away when she climbs on the chair to be nearer his height. And Alice has learned from Sharon, and practiced on Oz, so she doesn't hesistate; she grabs Raven by the shoulder to hold him still and bites his cheek.

There's a moment of stillness.

Then Raven is squawking and yelping, flailing at her and trying to prise her off. They crash around the kitchen, Alice clinging to Raven, Raven yelling loudly.

She'd wanted him to put his hand on her head and pet her hair, but this will do. This is life enough.