Hi! I usually don't publish what I write because well, it becomes embarrassing after I re-read it later and see so many mistakes and all. But I wanted to share this one because I feel there isn't enough stories of this pairing, so even if it's amateurish I hope it contributes positively to the fandom.
I'm also bending a lot of rules of Wonderland here and inventing others, partly because I haven't played any of the games with Joker (only the Hearts one) and because I lack the complete picture, knowing of him from fanworks and what people write of his route.
But anyway, that doesn't stop me from wanting to participate. So here we have it.
Hope you like it!
~ x ~
The clicking of boots was the only sound that reverberated through the prison. The cells he was passing by were empty as he had detected the presence of an uninvited guest and decided some privacy was in order for this meeting, the thought brought a sly smirk to his mouth.
It had been a while since she last visited him, a contrast to her frequent visits at the circus and his counterpart, his scowl deepened thinking of his indirect conversations through the mask. Though sometimes he'd force his way into switching bodies with Joker so he could stop the bastard from getting a little too touchy with the Foreigner and save their asses from having to play hide and seek after she ran away. After all, the only thing he had to gaze at in her place was a stupid fake that faded from Alice's form to that of her sister's, the thing lacked entertaining reactions so he rarely ever bothered with it.
A bright blue dress that contrasted with the dull gray of the stone walls and faded colors of broken toys caught his eye. It was Alice alright, but something was off.
"Hello, Black." She greeted with a small smile. Her usually bright blue-green eyes dulled in their light, arranging her features to look tired and causing the man's frown to pronounce. It was usually his taunts that got that reaction from her after time periods of forcing her to face that cell, and it rubbed him the wrong way that someone else took his place. He shook that last thought off.
"What's with the stupid face, it's uglier than usual." He stopped in front of the girl, his uniformed height dwarfing hers.
"Why thank you, it's nice seeing your personality is as charming as ever." Even her usual bite was lacking in energy. He grunted.
"What, decided to finally give up and come here on your own? Gotta say, it's nice of ya to stop that lame ass game of tag" Black's smirk was taunting but he didn't expect her faint shrug.
"I- ah… I came to see my sister…" The girl said in a soft breath. Joker expected this. Only defeat could be read in her body language, he was looking forward to the goading to come.
"Hoo…? And why should I let you see her?" Joker arched a brow, ready for the demands to follow.
"… Please?" the girl finally said, pretty teal eyes shining with emotions too complicated for most people in Wonderland to even grasp.
"Heh! And what do I get by allowing your request, princess?" Joker leaned his taller frame over her smaller form and invading her personal space.
"... A show?" She asked with a trace of certainty, as if she knew he wouldn't turn it down but still hesitated to offer it.
Joker narrowed his eyes at her, even if she wasn't aware of it the Warden couldn't prevent prisoners from willingly walking into their cells. It was simply a convenient misconception that he took sadistic entertainment in criminal's suffering enough to watch them turn themselves in.
Not that he would ever correct her, bad enough that he... unintentionally spooked her at certain moments to keep the chase going. After all, what was the challenge in capturing easy prey?
"Fine," He grunted "just when I think it would be fun you go and ruin it." Joker ignored the sudden weight in his stomach as he realized Alice was really going to walk into that cell and let the Game take a firm hold of her.
Bitter disappointed rose like bile up his throat and he discreetly cleared his throat while spinning on his heels and leading the way deeper into the prison.
Before arriving they met the Jester, now in Warden clothes as well. His lips pulled in a broader smile than ever.
"I see our little bird has decided to come back, well I for one warmly welcome you, Miss Alice."
His counterpart drew a disgusted sound and continued to stalk at the same slow pace. Odd how their footsteps echoed around them on the silent stone place full of broken toys, whose eyes seemed to follow them, one set of feet stomping, one nearly skipping and the last one at a sedate calm.
Finally they arrived at one cell. Inside, in the middle of the floor sitting elegantly was the figure of one Lorina Liddell.
~ x ~
Delicate fingers reached to touch the woman's fair cheek but upon contact something different happened, something that left the redheads speechless. The mirage smiled ever so gently and sadly at Alice, but there was approval in her gaze. Then it slowly vanished; first her image faded as if covered by invisible fog; then it was hard to make out her shape; and finally what could only be described as an arm reached to cover Alice's hand on the, now, shadow's head. It spoke something and Alice returned the same wistful smile.
It was over really fast and Joker couldn't believe that his ticket to keep Alice had disappeared just like that, more importantly how.
"What the heck happened?!" was the only response he could come up with, he searched the cell and found no trace left of the illusion.
Meanwhile, the Jester was more preoccupied carefully observing the young maiden, a worried frown on his usually cheerful face.
"Miss Alice, what exactly happened…? Could it be actually possible that you have taken a decision regarding your stay in Wonderland?" this snapped the Warden's attention right back.
The girl's blue-green eyes zeroed on the two men before her, and it briefly occurred to the harlequin that for the first time she held the answers and they the questions and, dare he think it, their fears.
Her tranquil gaze did nothing but alarm them unlike her usual insecure responses. It should have been refreshing, the change, like always, but it wasn't. Not the least bit.
"I have." How could two insignificant words cut throw their chests like knives? The corners of her lips curved upward gently; heating those knives to red hot temperatures it felt like "A few time turns ago… I remembered."
"What the fuck do you mean by that?!" the less patient of the two redheads exploded "Did that worm fuck with your head or something?!"
"No, I remembered on my own." Silence grew once again, but when it looked like she would not be interrupted again if she was willing to elaborate she went on "I checked the vial the other day," the fact that she used an expression from her world was the only testament to her nervousness "and saw that it was almost full. It made me think of everything I have experienced here and I realized this was most definitely not a dream."
Her lowered eyes, hunched back and slightly red face made her the picture of shame.
"I tried to ignore my senses and passed the crazy logic of this world as fidgets of my imagination, a part of me really didn't want to accept that there was a very different world connected to mine." Joker was distracted for a second when she bit her pink lower lip "And the reason for that-" she suddenly raised her head whilst taking a deep breath "was because as long as I dreamed I wouldn't have to face reality…"
Both Jokers felt a lurch in their chests when they saw her lovely teal eyes brimming with unshed tears. She blinked and the Warden found himself raising his foot to step towards the girl, for what reason, he didn't know but he lowered it as covertly as possible. The Jester also had found, to his surprise, his hand trying to reach her in its own accord. He swiveled to grab his own arm as if he had intended to cross them over his chest. Alice didn't seem to notice to their relief and continued her explanation, enrapturing them once again.
"My sister is dead." Her lips quivered and her sweet voice broke, she took another breath to compose herself before going on "Accepting this world as reality, I could never insult Sister's memory by feigning ignorance. Lorina would never want me to delude myself like that… and yet I did." The last part was whispered and almost not heard.
"She would have wanted me to move on." Alice's smile was heartbreaking, painful and sad, not happy at all.
And yet Joker had never seen her more beautiful. How they craved to caress her face and ease her sorrow, for as beautiful as it was they wanted her to smile with happiness; this smile was a kind of beauty painful to watch more than once.
"That is the reason for my visit today. I had to remove the weighs I placed upon myself so I could move on." The brunette watched the two redheads before her softly, unknowingly breaking whatever spell they were into. The circus master recovered the fastest, his usual mask of a hollow point smile, though inside he was freaking out.
"And… You haven't answered my question yet, dear Alice. What about your decision regarding your stay?" when she smiled wistfully again he swore she was messing with him on purpose, now his hands twitched with the need to trap her in his embrace.
The prison guard was in similar disarray, his insides felt both melted down and twisted almost painfully, he could not will his ruby red eye to look away from her small fair figure. Keeping his stoic countenance was a challenge already.
"I'll stay in Wonderland… for now." Upon seeing the stiffening of the men she quickly explained "I feel I should not make empty promises, right now I want to stay with all the people who have become important to me."
The look she gave them almost broke their spirits, with warmth or ice, neither knew.
"But even I don't know what I want yet. I have to learn to deal with-Sister's death," Alice sucked in a quick breath, as if punched in the gut but forced herself to continue "… after that, well, I guess I'll search for my own happiness… And maybe I can find it here."
The heart of a Foreigner is a fickle thing. Was the thought of the Joker she nicknamed White, he understood what Alice was trying to say 'Maybe I can be happy here but if not, I'll go back and search back there'. Despite how bleak the situation looked he still wanted to capture her in his web to never let go again. The question now was how.
'She's being the most honest I have ever seen someone be'. The Joker nicknamed Black wasn't far behind in his observation. He was surprised. Being the prison warden he always thought only fools spilled their guts to others, but for the life of him he could not find a weakness in her exposure. Her entire mind was laid bare for Wonderland's Joker to do as he pleased. But there were no cracks in her reasoning and no hidden thoughts; because she accepted her own faults and situation as a whole she no longer carried that guilt around: She was Free.
And that scared the crap out of Joker. His control was lost now and she had no reason to hang around the prison ever again. She didn't even dare tie herself down with a promise. His shoulders hunched unknowingly.
"I want to thank you." Her melodious voice broke the men from their dark thoughts inadvertently "Nightmare and Peter both knew but decided to hide it at all costs. It was sweet of them to try and save me from the pain, but that wasn't what I needed. Meeting you gave me the chance to face this and mourn like I was meant to."
Taking in two very confused red eyes she sighed.
"In my world death is forever." Her words rang on the halls and both redheads imperceptibly flinched, feeling suddenly chilly, for some reason they didn't like where the conversation was going. "The death of a loved one is too hard to take; it could break the toughest of people. That I have seen." She had a faraway look for a second. "But it has to be mourned over, accepted and finally moving over it. It's necessary."
The redheads tried to take in what she was saying and in theory they knew, but in practice… they had never loved anyone in the past, at least the past that they remembered since it had been a truly long time for the most feared Role Holder in Wonderland, even death affected them differently, how could an immortal fear death?
But looking at Alice… Sweet, small, fair, frail looking Alice, they got it a little. Thought neither tried to acknowledge it in any way.
"We didn't do it for you! The world doesn't revolve around you, it was simply our Role!" And just like that the spell broke.
Surprising enough the Foreigner laughed and answered with a light voice.
~ x ~
"Well then, I better return to the Tower of Clover before the others worry too much," looking away before muttering softly "I bet my behavior these past few time periods have worried them a little." A smile made its way to her face, light and happy.
A pang of something made its way to Joker's chest.
The Jester had trouble keeping his smile on; if the girl was to look at his face then she'd notice his empty stare and tightly clenched fists.
Meanwhile, the Warden scowled heavily as he looked away, crossing his arms while moodily saying "Then get the heck away from here, if you are not a prisoner you are wasting my time." He turned to leave but her surprised expression halted his movement.
"Ah but-" she stopped to gather her thoughts; she looked away and blushed slightly. This would have been enough to distract both men but her next words caught them by surprise, again. "I thought I could visit soon, apart from changing the seasons that is, to play cards and talk." Her speech finished with her fidgeting and staring intently at her shoes as if they were the most interesting thing she had ever seen.
The silence stretched on, making her flinch and her blush to worsen. Both Jokers were standing stone still.
"I mean, if both of you are okay with that…" her voice trailed off until it was hard to hear; obviously she was embarrassed with her assumption that they wanted her company as much as she wanted theirs.
Unfortunately it was the brashest Joker to recover the fastest, if only because he was embarrassed too.
"… Like we'd want your shitty company of all things! " resolutely he began to stomp away with a suspicious red dust on his cheeks even as he kept his face turned away.
"We'd like that very much, Alice" after recovering even the ringmaster was a little overwhelmed and his warm face proved it. Let it never be known by anyone that Joker lost composure because of a little girl.
Teal eyes widened in delight, "Then see you around!" her happy tone echoed around them as she whirled on her feet and left, blue dress disappearing in the dark.
She was still very sad, but seemed lighter and relieved too; her light steps accompanied her new mood apparently. It only made the Jester want to uncover what made Alice Liddell tick, if anything, recent events confirmed they knew nothing about Foreigners.
Joker was relieved too. They would still see Alice and not because of their Role, no, she wanted to see them. But this was going to make it more difficult to capture her, now the Outsider was truly free and what was worse, they held nothing to bait her with except their presences themselves.
"Now what." Asked the Warden through the mask on White's belt. He had been attentive to Alice's every word after he left in a huff, and broke the ringmaster from his thoughts.
"Mmmm It just became harder." He tapped his chin with a finger.
"No shit. The brat didn't even promise anything! 'see you around~' the heck was that!"
"Worry not, Joker. We still have a chance." He smiled at the mask, the bells of his hat chiming slightly with the movement.
"And what the fuck is your –oh so- genius plan?" Impatience made clear by the swear.
"Well, it's a little inconvenient but I guess we will first have to wait and see." He responded while taping a finger on his chin, deep in thought.
"... it better work, Joker, or else…" The threat drifted on.
"Now, now, Joker. Can't you honestly say you're a little glad too? Alice did say she'd come to visit you too even here."
"She didn't fucking say anything like that! Don't you dare try to avert the question, you bastard!"
The two bickering voices echoed on the empty cell halls. Maybe both men were a little too distracted, for their voices rang loud and clear over the head of a red faced girl as she slowly made her way to the exit, a hand over her mouth to cover a small shy smile.