Hey. :) Sorry that I was off this story for a couple months. I got a little stuck, worked on some other things, but now I feel a little more liberated having wrapped up this chapter/last scene so there might be more coming in the next week or so. Thanks for the favs and alerts.
Us Against the World
Part 7 - From Tea Tables to Closets
Back in Alice's room, Hatter laid on his stomach, hands under his chin, staring wistfully out from the edge of the bed. Hare, who was leaning against the wall, swayed in his direction. "How much longer do you think it'll be before she gets back?"
"I don't know enough to think," Hatter replied, propping himself up. "But I hope she comes back soon... There's nothing to do in here."
"You're telling me. I mean I really really see why she comes to Wonderland now,"
"Tch, yeah-" Hatter hurried, ending his sentence with a sneeze.
Bored and not really thinking, Hare stretched his arms in between Alice's mattress and let his head fall. Something long and solid seemed to reach his fingertips. He dug in for a better grasp and pulled out a little pink book quite unsuspectingly. "What's this?"
Hatter took one look at it. "Oh, good going, Hare, you found Alice's diary."
"I... oh dear."
"You should probably put that back."
"Good idea!" Hare concurred a bit awkwardly. As he was slipping it back in, Hatter sneezed again. Hare slowly returned his arms from underneath the mattress.
"...Bless you... again." Hatter rubbed his nose with his finger a little.
A second later came another sneeze.
"Bless you... more."
"H'whooh! It must be really dusty back here."
Hare laughed weakly and looked to the floor. When his eyes rose to Hatter again, his whole body was tensing up, and a new round of sneezes followed, one after the other.
"Hatter!" Hare shuffled closer and tried patting him on the shoulder, but the sneezes kept coming.
"I...ACKGHO! Can't stop...ACHHO... sneezing!" Hatter dropped to the rug by Alice's desk with his hand in the air as Hare crawled to his side.
"O-o-oh! You need some tissue!" Hare got up and started searching the room, with no luck. He came back to Hatter's side and clasped his hand in his lap. He had stopped sneezing, but instead he was staring up at the ceiling with his eyes half shut, his own snot blowing a bubble out his nostril. "Oh, Hatter..." Hare whined, leaning into his poor friend, "I hope it isn't really me this time!"
Just then, two feet in white Keds stepped out of the mirror in the background. Alice inspected the scene with her eyes narrowed.
Hare swished his head around to her and dropped Hatter's hand. It landed square into his crotch. Hare quickly yanked it back up and placed the arm by Hatter's side. By this time, Alice didn't care anymore and had laid a bag she had brought with her onto the bed. "I brought you two some stuff. In case you can't go back tonight. It's all from Hatter's house, I... didn't really know what all you'd like but..." Hatter lifted his head a moment.
"You didn't go in the bedroom, did you?"
"No, actually, I didn't have to..." His head fell back as Hare stood up. He was handed the bag and reached in, pulling out a box of chamomile and lady grey tea and smiling.
"Thank you... you have no idea what this means to me and... Hatter..." They looked in his direction and he was still sprawled on the floor. Hare darted his eyes around and continued. He next pulled out a couple of bags with toothbrushes: one purple, one yellow, and toothpaste. "Oh! Oh... that's great."
"Yeah!... I... figured.. that one was yours," she pointed at the yellow one.
"Y-yeah! Uh, sometimes... I just... sleep over at Hatter's, so... I just kept a spare-"
"Yeah, I figured," Alice trailed, looking anywhere but directly at him.
"It's... good to have stuff like that," Hare finished. Both paused. "I sleep on the couch," he clarified. Alice smiled to nothing in particular, so Hare dug his hand back into the bag and pulled out a comb, a brush, and some apricot body spray. "Heh," Hare let out. Alice tried to maintain that completely nonjudgmental smile on her face.
Next came a couple white and yellow undershirts. "I saw them hanging out to dry in the back."
"Oh!" Hare wet his lip nervously. "I-I do Hatter's laundry. It seemed easier to do both ours at the same time, then..."
"Yeah so anyway," Alice cut over him. Hare's hands, ready to explain away, dropped to his sides. "This is just in case you can't go back. Mr. Dum and I found your mirror in the attic and moved it. You guys should try it. If it doesn't work, I'll go back tomorrow and see if there's anything else I can do."
"Alright... Did you hear that, Hatter?" Hare hurried over to Hatter, who was rising from the rug and sniffling.
"Yeah, we're going back... Can I have some tissue, please? I'm running like Niagara Falls, here."
Alice paused a moment and then dashed off.
When Hatter'd finished clearing his nose, as best as he could, Alice notioned for the mirror again. Hatter set down the box and extended his arm. As he came for the mirror, he sneezed into his free arm and then ran right into it.
"Oh no! It didn't work!"
"No, no... Mr. Hatter sneezed! You're not supposed to sneeze when you walk through the mirror. It messes everything up," Alice explained. Hatter shrugged a little and wiped off his nose. He got into stance again before his mouth stretched wide. "Oh for God's sake... Mr. Hare... you try first."
The trapped sneeze in Hatter seemed to die off as he cleared the way for Hare. Determined folds in his face, he puffed out his chest and rose his hand. If there was ever a better way to enter the mirror, none of them knew it. As he neared his reflection, he tilted back his head and closed his eyes, like he were a diva givin' the hand, but the hand bent at the surface and his face landed in it. He stood there a moment with his forehead over his fingers. Alice looked at Hatter before quietly stepping forward and patting Hare on the arm.
"I guess it didn't work..."
"We're," Hatter started his sentence with a surprisingly nasal voice before he cleared his throat, "...we're sorry, Alice."
"No, no... it's fine. I mean it's not fine, but just.... Just forget about it."
Hare finally turned around.
"Alice, are you feeling alright?"
"Yeah...Why do you ask?" She swished her arms a little and came to the bed, where she pounced in front of her pillow and began snuggling a stuffed bear.
Hatter and Hare met eyes and awkwardly stepped to her side.
"Well it's just... you were so mean to us earlier-" Before Hare could finish, Hatter jabbed him in the side.
"What Hare means to say is we thought you really wanted us out of here."
"I did... I'm sure you want to leave too. But there's no use crying over spilled milk."
"W-We didn't spill anything in here-" Hare started up, before Hatter jabbed him in the side again.
"She means there's no use getting upset about a bad thing that has already happened."
This just confused Hare even more. "...I would think that'd be the ideal time. Who gets upset before something bad happens?"
Hatter and Alice shared impatient stares.
"Listen, I have a better idea where to keep you. I'm going to clear out my closet so you can both have some room. If you promise to be very quiet, you can help." The two nodded.
Alice wasn't happy that Hatter had crushed one of her Barbie cars, but they managed to move most of her toys under her bed. Once Alice had shoved most of her clothes hangers to the side and threw in some pillows, the place looked very appealing. Hare sat down inside, adjusting the blankets and smiling a little.
"...So I take it it's going to be yours?"
"And Mr. Hatter will go back behind the bed?" Hatter's brow dropped. "Well there isn't room for both of you in there."
"Hey, no fair! I want the closet."
Hare darted his eyes around. "Sorry, Hatter." Alice tugged Hatter by the arm and lead him back to his least favorite place. "You can come and visit!"
Hatter stooped behind the bed with a frown on his face.
"I'm gonna go get you guys some food,"
- - -
Alice appeared in the kitchen, wearing a zip-up sweater, the reason apparent when she opened the cupboard and started stuffing the items within down her shirt. She also ran some hot water and put it in the biggest mug she could find. On the way across the living room, she ran into her mom.
"Tea," she replied as casually as possible."
"Tea at 9:30?"
"M-my stomach's a little upset."
"Alice, are you sick, honey?" Her mother laid a hand on her forehead. "You haven't been acting like yourself today."
"N-No, I'm fine, Mom... I'm sure it'll pass."
"Okay... But if you need me-"
"I know... But I'll be fine. Really." Alice flashed her free hand for emphasis, but when her mother tried to hug her, she swished to the side and laughed when a crinkling sound came from her chest. She tried to make a similar sound by sucking on her front teeth. "Yep!" At that, she cautiously went for the stairs, trying not to make any more noise.
She entered her silent bedroom once more and prepared the tea, then came to the closet. When she opened it, they were both sitting there.
The boys ate ravenously. No Cheez-It remained in the bag, no Scooby Doo fruit snack uneaten... Alice was finally beginning to find this predicament somewhat entertaining. Not in the "ha-ha" sort of way. ...More in the "I can't believe this is my fucking life right now" sort of way.... Tossing snack foods into her closet at two adult men in weird looking clothes.
Eventually all three of them were in there playing Uno.
Once Alice realized she was actually having fun with them, she peaked out the closet door and saw that it was almost eleven at night.
"Oh shit. I should've been in bed an hour ago."
Without so much as a word, the guys watched her exit the closet and prepare for bed.
"Keep this closed for a minute," she ordered, and closed the closet door. Hare looked to Hatter, who just shrugged. When the door opened again, Alice was wearing some button-up pajamas with a fun cloud pattern. "You guys should go to bed now," she said, turning off the lights. As she hopped into bed, Hatter and Hare just stared. She took notice, a little annoyed.
"I'm sorry, but if I don't go to bed now, I'll sleep in all day tomorrow and then my mom will come in here. You wouldn't want that, would you?" They both shook their heads no. "Goodnight."
She turned to her side and faced the wall.
Hatter slowly closed the closet door and stared at Hare a moment. "...Hare, I'm not tired."
"Neither am I."
"I'm not used to having somebody else tell me when to go to bed."
"Yeah, let alone a little girl."
"You're telling me."
"I am," Hare asserted playfully. They snickered a little. "Hey, go get that bag that Alice brought."
Hatter obeyed. The bag was sitting next to Alice's bedside table before a Hatter on all fours appeared next to her and snatched it up. The two set it between them. Hare immediately took out the brush and started fixing his hair. "I'd do anything for a shower..." He sort of whined.
"Me too! I mean, my hair is losing its lustrous shine!" Hatter added, swishing his hair with his hand and pouting.
"Mine's losing its charming lemon scent."
"I knew something felt missing..."
"I... I don't know. I guess I noticed."
Hare paused a moment, set the brush down, and smiled at Hatter, who wasn't sure why the comment was of such importance. He faintly smiled back and misted himself with some of the apricot body spray.
Just then Hare extended his leg in front of Hatter and pulled down his sock.
"I've gotta shave like no tomorrow, too."
"OHGHH, GOD! PUT THAT AWAY!"
He nervously covered himself back up and coughed.
Neither of them spoke a moment as they situated a little inside the closet, unable to really lay down without bumping into each other at first. They settled on opposite ends, facing away from each other's legs. Hare was clutching his pillow, staring into the wall, still in thought.
"...It wasn't that bad..." He finally muttered. He waited for Hatter to reply, but he didn't. "...You come from a much hairier family than me." Hatter propped himself up and gaped at him.
"You're a hare!"
"Well you're Dutch!" Hatter's open mouth sagged. "And Norwegian!"
"...You're the one born with a full head of hair!" He retorted.
"You're the one with frosted mini wheats for eyebrows!"
"Oh yeah, sure, you can compare my eyebrows to your legs."
"Dormouse could get lost in there!"
Hatter looked on like he couldn't believe this conversation was even happening.
"Thanks, I'm glad to know you think about this kind of stuff when you look at my face."
Hare suddenly looked guilty. "Oh, come onnn, I didn't mean it like that. ...I like your face."
A silence passed over them again and Hare was kind of waiting for Hatter to say something nice back, but he never did. Instead, he sneezed.
Neither of them much acknowledged it until he sneezed again.
"Godamnit," Hatter said to himself. They tried to ignore it but it continued on. Hatter sat up all the way and sniffed ruffly. "What is with me and all this sneezing?! You're not sneezing!"
"I... I don't know!"
"Maybe it's because I'm laying next to your feet." Hare's face dropped a little angrily.
"I'll have you know, my feet are roses!" He declared.
"Not after a few days without showering."
Hare's front teeth tapped over his bottom lip a moment, his response unprepared. "...You're not being very nice."
Just then Alice was heard outside the closed closet door.
"Will you guys shut up?! You're both hairy, you both smell bad, and neither of you are gonna get to shave, so just go to bed!"
They looked to each other uncomfortably and shuffled around for their blanket. This time Hatter lowered to Hare's side, who in reaction immediately recoiled into the closet wall to maintain space, or as little of it that they had. A moment later, he had hid his face with the blanket, so Hatter laid half covered, crossing his arms and sort of just staring into the ceiling. He glanced at the shape of his buddy and reached back to turn off Alice's portable Cinderella lamp. In the darkness, he sniffled a little and paused. "...'Night Hare."