Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of SyFy and Nick Willing and are only used for fan related purposes; any dialogue used is from the actual mini-series and is only used to further the story.

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Contrariwise

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If Dr. Dee and Dr. Dum wanted a battle, well, she was going to give them one.

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Relax… let your mind go. Allow yourself to fall into a deep sleep…

But Alice wasn't sleeping. At least, she didn't think she was.

The voices of Dr. Dee and his brother, Dr. Dum, oily and hypnotic twin voices, they washed over her, her head spinning, falling… falling until her eyes opened wide, a vain attempt to prove she was awake. She felt twenty, then, she felt ten. She was afraid to go into her father's study, she was afraid to put too much faith in the familiar old watch Jack Chase—no, she corrected almost subconsciously, not Chase, Heart—slipped her inside the casino.

How many times had she seen the watch on his wrist? How many times had she looked for it on every man she suspected might be her father? R.H… Robert Hamilton. Dad left, but where did he go? Dad was here...

But where was here?

Ten year old Alice—no, twenty year old Alice thought she was in her father's old study in the little yellow house of her memories. She was, but then she wasn't. She didn't remember a crib standing in the center of the old study. She peered inside, not knowing what to expect, not surprised by what she found. There was a pig, a baby pig in the baby's crib…

Okay, she allowed. Maybe she was asleep. This had to be a dream.

all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again…

Their voices lost their harmony, they went out of sync and Alice barely had time to notice their hurry when the door slammed shut behind her. She jumped, spun around, gasped out loud and stared at the entrance that was no longer an exit. The light flickered, dark and back again, so quickly she thought she blinked.

The crib was gone, and the pig inside, and the doctors were speaking again, slow, and careful and finishing each other's sentences now:

Now it's time for a battle…

let's see if we can find a little lever…

and prise the tasty oyster open.

Alice Hamilton, the real Alice in the real world, was always a no-nonsense, independent sort of girl. A black belt in karate, as defensive and as guarded in her personal life as well as her professional one, there wasn't much she feared—but she did have fears. Of course she did. She was human, after all.

She had two distinct fears, different though they stemmed from the same trauma. One was a little silly, and very common: she was terrified of heights, flying and anything that had to do with her feet leaving the hard ground where they belonged; the other was less so: Alice feared abandonment, being left alone by everyone she loved.

It had happened once before…

The planks started falling, one after another after another. Alice watched in horror as they dropped, revealing a pit so far down below that all she saw was an inky blackness that made her stomach twist and her head spin.

Then one was left, just one, and Alice clung to it like it was a life-preserver. It was a life-preserver. The one wooden board was the only thing keeping her up as she dropped down to her knees and clung to the side with her fingers. The rough edges of the plank bit into her palms but she ignored it. She was too busy trying to convince herself that she was brave, that she was safe, that this was all apart of her imagination.

"This isn't happening," she argued, the real Alice coming to, yelling as she was to the (nonexistent, she hoped) giants hovering just outside, "it's all in my head! It's just a dream!"

Shaky, desperate to prove it to herself, she climbed to her feet, her arms at her side for balance. She couldn't keep her eyes off of the all encompassing black swimming beneath her, but she stood up straight, gasping and panting, determined all the same.

"I just have to wake up," she said to no one. One step, one small step to convince herself that it was simply a dream—

—but one step was all it took. The plank wobbled, she overbalanced and then she fell. Alice may not have wanted to think that she was conscious but she was and her reflexes were as quick as ever. Wrapping her arms around the edge of the board, she hung on for dear life, her legs swinging to and fro like the pendulum of her old grandfather's clock.

"It's real," she gasped, struggling to hold herself up, afraid to let the empty hole swallow her up.

Of course it's real…

Alice was awake, she was herself, she was thinking. If everything was real, and she had to admit it was, she would die if she fell. Her brain whirring, her arms straining, she asked them about the ring. It was her bargaining chip—it always has been—but the doctors, each equally insane, they didn't seem to care.

They would relish her death, rejoicing in the screams she made as she fell. They were crazy, they were mad, and they didn't even bother to deny it when she all but accused them of being so. It was fun, they thought, and she felt nothing but anger and disgust at their delight.

She quivered and trembled, her fear momentarily forgotten. Stubborn to a fault, Alice wasn't about to let them see her give in so easily. She was made of stronger stuff than that. She was a city girl, a black belt, for goodness sake! Swinging her legs up, using the momentum to wrap her legs around the plank, Alice relied on every last bit of her upper arm strength to pull herself back up on the plank. Only then, when she was safely straddling the board overlooking the darkness, did Alice's fear return.

Her heart was beating, her palms were slippery with sweat, but she refused to let the twisted doctors see anything but her anger. She called back on the ring because it was the only thing she had; this side up, Dr. Dee and Dr. Dum were more interesting in hearing what she had to say.

More importantly, they wanted to know where it was—as if Alice would tell them that. They could promise her her freedom and she still wouldn't tell them anything.

The doctors didn't offer Alice her freedom…

If you don't tell us…

we may as well kill you…

and then we'll just have to tell the queen it was an accident…

it happens all the time.

It was more threats, but they were more than capable of acting on them. At once, the board, the single piece of wood that was keeping her from freefalling down, it began to disappear. Disintegrating, crumbling to splinters and wooden shards and mere dust right before her very eyes, she climbed back to her knees. Her bravado had crumbled just as quickly.

Or had it?

They were talking, oily, nasty words that she couldn't hear over the out and out pounding of her panicked heart. Four feet left, two feet left, maybe twelve inches… Alice was backed up against the wall, open fear splayed across her face.

You learn a lot hanging over an abyss, using only the strength of yours arms to keep you from falling; you learn even more when you're only a foot away from plummeting to your death.

Alice's mind was still whirring, the anger keeping her sharp, keeping her sane; the fear was there, all too present, but she used it to her advantage. A battle the twisted doctors had called for… well, it was a battle they were going to get. Her toes hanging over the remnants of the board, the wood threatening to finish crumbling to nothing, Alice finally gave in.

At least, she pretended to…

"Wait," she said weakly, knowing it was her only chance. "I'll tell you where it is."

You better be quick! yelled one doctor.

It has a mind of its own! yelled the other.

"I have to write it down," she invented, the terror in her voice all too real. "It's complicated. I have to draw a map."

Ho, hum… very well, if you must…

A desk appeared suddenly, a desk with a pen, some paper, and, strangely enough, a fan and a pair of kid gloves. Aware that the wood was still splintering slowly beneath her boot-covered feet, she lunged for the pen. She gripped it tightly and shakily, determinedly put the nib to a blank piece of paper she pulled toward her. She decidedly felt slightly more confident than she looked as she began to write quickly:

Locker 208, Central Station…

It was time to let the servants and their wretched queen think that the cursed ring was back in her world; it would serve them right for doing this to her, to her father, to all the oysters stolen here. Alice knew enough about the Queen of Hearts by now that the horrible woman would never think to look for the ring where it was—where it belonged.


Author's Note: What? Another new fandom? Yes, I know... but what can I say? I've been bitten by the Alice bug. I've been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland since I was a kid and this new incarnation was just made up of some great inspiration. I have a bunch of plotbunnies running around my head -- including quite a few revolving around our hat-wearing rogue -- but I thought, given she's the namesake, I'd try to get inside Alice's head first. I really enjoy doing character studies, and she had enough issues in the Truth Room that I wanted to explore. I hope, if you read it, you enjoyed it. Keep an eye out for more from me ;)

-- stress, 12.19.09