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In Step

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Jack laughed, hiding a flinch as Alice stepped on his feet yet again as he lead her around the piano room floor.

Instead of apologizing, like any lady would, the young girl only gave him a pensive look and twisted her lips in a frown. She released his hand and bent to pick up her stuffed rabbit.

"I don't see why I need to learn any of this, Jack." Alice stated as her hand stroked down Oz's back.

He tilted his head, giving her a helpless smile. Jack supposed it was his own undoing in trying to take up the task in teaching Alice to mold herself into that of a young lady. She had become far too used to her boyish ways and speech, all thanks to Oswald who, from his seated place by the piano, saw nothing wrong in it at all. Jack tossed the master of the Baskervilles a beseeching look, but Oswald only quirked a brow as he watched Jack and his resistant student.

Seeing no help whatsoever from his friend, Jack slumped his shoulder before sucking in a deep breath. Crouching down, he presented Alice with a bright smile.

"You're only saying that because you're still learning the basic steps! Dancing is a wonderful experience, Alice!" He closed his eyes, his smile still ever present. "When you're dancing, it's almost like you're flying away to another world. The gentle and warm lights of the ballroom, the orchestra playing a lovely tune in the background: it's all very magical."

"Magical…" Alice repeated softly, eyes not really seeing as Jack nodded.

"Mmhm!" Pushing himself up, Jack crossed his arms thoughtfully as he looked down at the young girl. "Perhaps… perhaps you're having a hard time enjoying this lesson because… ah! I understand now!"

From where he sat, Oswald crossed his arms and released a quiet sigh, wondering what the ever troublesome blond man was up to this time.

"You've yet to fall in love with me!" Jack proclaimed cheerfully. At this, Alice only furrowed her brows in confusion while Oswald only shook his head.

"Jack—" He began.

"No, no! You know this is true, Glen! In order to perfect any dance, one must be in love with one's partner!" He winked at the young girl. "Do not fret, Alice. You will fall in love with me soon enough!"

Eyes unmoving from the smiling man before her, Alice only shook her head and replied easily. "That's impossible."

"I-impossible? Why?" She was asked as Jack wilted.

"Because I already have someone I like." Alice answered easily, smiling.

"Glen doesn't count, Alice." Jack tried to reason, only to have Oswald raise a brow.

Shaking her head, Alice laughed. "It's not Glen!"

Both men looked at each other. Jack blinked, confused and taking on a hurt expression. He knew well Alice adored Glen, as most women seemed to be, and was perfectly fine with having to share her affections with his friend. However, the thought of the young girl adoring someone else did not settle with him. Perhaps it was Gilbert? But the two hardly got along and Vincent was clearly out of the question.

Who could it be, then, that had taken away Alice's heart, Jack wondered.

"Who is it?" He asked, curious.

The stuffed rabbit was held up to his eyes, its dark gleaming eyes seemed to almost twinkle with Alice's laugh. "It's Oz!"

"Oz?" Jack asked, blinking. "Hm." He ruminated. "I suppose that's fine."

"Fine…?" Oswald finally spoke up.

"Yes!" Jack grinned. "Because I also think Oz is adorable!"

"That's right!" Alice nodded, pleased that Jack seemed to agree with her. "So then, I want to dance with Oz!"

"You… you don't want to dance with me, Alice?" Jack frowned.

"After I dance with Oz. So then, Jack! You will teach me to lead." The young girl demanded as she set Oz back down on the floor.

"Lead? But Alice…" Jack began, only to trail off when Alice looked expectantly up at him. There was a moment of inner turmoil. It was his duty to try and turn her into a young mistress as Oswald clearly did not bother with such a thing, but it was difficult, nearly impossible to deny Alice anything she wished for. Jack could lie to himself and reasoned that it was because he adored Alice which wasn't really a lie, but it wasn't the whole truth, either. Had Alice not look so much like Lacie his will would not bend or break so easily to her demands. As it was, he could only let out a small laugh and smile gently at her. "As you wish, Alice."

And so, Jack placed Alice's hand on his waist and carefully taught her how to lead him around the room as Oswald looked on from behind his piano and tried not to see himself in Alice's place as Jack laughed when his foot was stepped on once more.