Title: In Sickness, In Health (1/1)
Disclaimer: Not mine
Spoilers: Takes place post-series but makes no reference to the show itself.
Summary: Hatter's only in Alice's world for a week when he experiences the wonders of the common cold. Of course Alice isn't going to take advantage of his weakened state to ask him some hard questions! Why would you think such a thing?
A/N: Someone take the computer away from me. I can't stop myself! I've never written fluff before in my life and look at what this pairing is doing to me!
In Sickness, In Health
He wears striped silk pajamas, and bits of Kleenex stuffed up his nose. She can't help but burst into laughter when he opens the door.
"Idsnot fuddy, Alice," he says, staring at her balefully. "Idsnot fuddy, ad I dobd appreciade your attitude."
She stops laughing long enough to say, "What?"
He holds up a finger as if to tell her to hang on a tick, then dodges to one side of the door and captures a box of tissues as though it were in the act of escaping. Waving her in with one hand, he wanders further into the apartment, blowing his nose.
"So," she says, twisting her mouth in an effort to keep a lid on her hysterical tendencies, "you're enjoying my world so far, aren't you? I can tell."
Hatter stops in the middle of the room and spins round to face her. "Dis id not fud!" he says. "I'b nod habing fud! I thought I would have at least a weeg or two to seddle in, bud dis—" He shakes his head and lapses into silence, his railing at the world apparently having exhausted him. He looks terribly pathetic as he stands there; and even more pathetic when he sank onto the floor of the apartment, dejectedly. A week he's been here, and it remains unfurnished; such a vast difference from the stylized decoration of his home, back in Wonderland. It makes her curious— how long does he plan on staying?
But now is not the time to bombard him with questions. Now when he is weak and his defenses were down. Not when it would be so easy to get answers from him—
She shakes her head regretfully. No. Now was the time to play the dutiful— what? Girlfriend? Hardly. Person who shares longing looks and passionate kisses and a curious place in a limbo reserved only for lovers with terminal inertia?
Hatter blows his nose, and his voice clears up enough for her to fully understand him. "This is not what I was expecting."
She walks to him and gets to her knees at his side, a safe distance away. "What, they don't have colds in Wonderland?"
He stares at her, eyes wide. "This is a cold?"
"Well, yeah," she says in a gentle sort of "Duh!" voice. He ponders this.
"In Wonderland," he says, swiping at his nose with one sleeve, "colds are actually, you know, cold. You catch one, and you freeze into ice for a week or two. Or longer. Basically, until some kind person finds a blowtorch." He coughs a little, weakly, pathetically, and she begins to suspect— as his puppy eyes lift and meet hers— that he's catching on to how much he can play on her sympathy. Because after all they've been through, there's not a lot she won't do for him.
Up to and including searching for a cure for the common cold. Plus, that would make them rich. They'd be set for life.
It doesn't even jar her, how easily she slips into thinking they.
They, we, us. Alice and the Hatter. Easy.
She says, "Are you ever going to get real furniture in here?"
"Bossibly," he says, and has to pause to blow his nose again. "Possibly. Why?"
She chews on her lower lip, shrugs. "Just wondering. Just thinking about— how long you were planning on staying." And there she goes, asking the question she hadn't meant to ask, taking advantage of his weakened, obviously ill state to find out something she isn't sure, now, that she wants to know the answer to. Well, of course she does. Maybe. If the answer was forever, now, that she wanted to know. Really, really wanted to know.
He scrutinizes the contents of his Kleenex in such a typical guy fashion that it makes her roll her eyes. "Talk about your changing luck," he says, shrugs, throws the tissue over his shoulder. It lands neatly on the growing pile, and he fixes his attention back on her. "Do you want to talk about it? Because I can. I'm snotty, and I'm coughy, and I'm sneezy, but leave the seven dwarves out of it and my mental faculties are as sharp as ever. Sharper, possibly, because I'm gradually getting rid of all that— all that—" A pause, a giant sneeze. He holds up the next tissue. "All this."
"Nice," says Alice, wrinkling her nose.
"It's your world," he says, as though it is her fault that he went swimming in December just because he's never seen an in-ground pool before.
She nods her head, taps her fingers against the ground. "We don't need to talk about it," she says finally.
He watches her avidly, like a bird with something shiny. "Are you sure about that? 'Coz, you know, I can always—"
"Later," she says, and smiles at him so he knows he's off the hook. For now, anyway. He takes in the smile, and smiles back. He's good at reflecting, like a mirror image, finding her pain and her joy and sharing in them without ever asking.
"Come here," he says, softly.
Alice shakes her head. "I don't think so."
"Come here," he says again, and if she won't come to him, he's ready to come to her; he's shifting, he's getting up on his knees, and before she can back away he's got his mouth on hers, as avidly as he watched her, one hand stroking up her chin, slowly. He holds himself there, and when he smiles again she can feel it.
He's apparently completely unaware of how contagious colds are. But this is new for both of them. She's willing to be lenient. For now.
He backs away finally and she gets the full glory of that solo dimple; she grins back. She gets the feeling suddenly that everything, against all probability, is going to be okay. Striped silk pajamas and wads of Kleenex and—
Hatter gives vent to a gloriously violent sneeze.
"Whew!" he says, with some pride.
"Bed!" commands Alice, scrambling backwards. "Now!"
He grins up at her. "I love it when you're bossy."
She puts him to bed, and makes sure he is warm. He's apparently tired, wiped out by the strain of traveling back and forth through the looking glass, of finding her, of their adventures together.
He calls to her as she heads for the door.
"Yeah?" Doesn't go back, just turns her head to look at him.
He waits. "I'm not going anywhere," he says eventually, like an offering. Alice smiles, nods at him. He's promising her something she could never have asked for, and she loves him for it. She does.
He stops her again at the threshold. "Alice!"
Again the look over her shoulder.
But all he says is, plaintively, "Bring a blowtorch."
Because he knows she'll be back. And she knows he'll be waiting.