Howdy! So, I watched Alice and told myself over and over that I would not write an Alice fic like I did with TinMan. Well, obviously I was wrong. Alice, herself, was so crap I couldn't stand it. The queen was a dissappointment as well. I have to say, though, I love Hatter and adore Charlie. So, for those of you who liked Dark Storm (sorry, btw. the sequel has issues), here's SciFi miniseries rewrite part 2: electric boogaloo. Also known as...
Today was a momentous day. Not because the day itself was anything special, but because at the end of today was tonight and tonight was a momentous night. The first time you bring a man home to meet Mother is a huge milestone in a young lady's life. True, at twenty-four, Alice Hamilton was running a little behind on this particular achievement. One certainly could not count the time the police had dropped her off on her doorstep with Casey Malcolm still sitting in the back of the squad car as bringing a gentleman home. Nor could the occasion when Jose Caro had dropped her off after a rehearsal for the spring play and waved a cheery greeting to her mother, who was just coming down the front stairs to put out the trash. Just because the two had shared a clandestine kiss moments before hand - during which Jose had brazenly copped a feel - did not make them an item. He was her drama teacher, after all. The point being, tardiness in an achievement does not always lessen the specialness of it and tonight, Alice was certain, would be perfectly exciting and wonderful.
"Yame!" she called with a stern confidence that belied her giddy excitement. The group of men and women before her, who had been practicing shoulder throws for the last ten minutes or so, ceased their actions and turned to her with a respect that still made a slight flush of heat creep up the back of her neck. Off to the side, from behind the plate glass window that took up most of the wall between his office and the main room of the dojo, she could feel Master Yakata's eyes on her as she thanked and dismissed the students. She knew the man, owner of the dojo, was happy with her progress and very much cherished his approval; sought it out just as much as her own mother's, if one were to be entirely honest.
The class moved off to the west wall, almost as a unit, gathering up discarded towels and sundries before heading back into the locker rooms to change into their street clothes. Alice turned the opposite direction, her destination being the employee locker room, which was off limits to students. This did not stop one Jack Chase from, well, chasing after her. She smiled inside her mouth.
"I believe we have a private lesson, Miss Hamilton," came Jack's smooth voice, with that oh so very proper, lilting British accent. When he wanted to turn on the charm, the man could melt butter with a word.
She shook her head, turning to him with an almost pitying little smile. "How many classes have you taken, Mr. Chase?"
"Ten in six weeks." Not and inconsiderable amount. He quickly added, "But, I can always do with more."
Her smile became a smirk. Yes, he really could do with more if this was the best he had to offer, it said silently. Alice could see the spark in his eye as he got the message loud at clear. "I'm only a junior instructor, you'll have to see one of the other trainers."
Chase nodded, chestnut bangs falling forward to give him a deceptive appearance of boyish charm for a moment before he tossed his head and sent them back to a more respectable place off his face. "Who would you suggest?"
The woman, who was still very much a girl in many ways, shrugged. "Tim Roberts is a very good instructor."
Jack's eyes narrowed and he tilted his head aside slightly, obviously not thinking this was the wisest choice. "I've heard he has a mean streak. What about Jenny Moyers?" There was that spark again. His expression could turn on a dime and was often so hard to read she might have thought he wasn't feeling anything at all, but just now Alice could clearly see the teasing light in his gaze.
"No, she's no good for you," she responded, maybe just a hair too quickly. "She's too.."
"Pretty?" He actually smirked at her now, so haughty and sure of himself. Long, nimble fingers reached up to tuck an errant strand of her so-dark-it-was-almost-black-but-not-quite-which-had-been-such-a-bane-to-her-in-high-school-but-she-had-made-peace-with-it brown hair behind her ear. In a flash, Alice had caught the much larger man's wrist, turned and stepped into his very firm and quite strong body, and tossed him over her shoulder and to the mat on which they stood. She place a triumphant bare foot on his chest lightly, grinning down at him widely.
Jack coughed dramatically and looked up at his conqueror beseechingly. "Alice, that really hurt."
Not buying that for a send, she dropped to her knees beside him and played along, cupping his face in gentle hands. "Oh, I'm sorry, sweetie. Where?"
He motioned up and down his prone frame, responding pathetically, "Everywhere."
Alice glanced up to find the dojo now empty and, as the two of them were not in the direct line of sight out of Master Yakata's office window, she bent close to whisper against his lips. "Want me to kiss it better?"
He let out a laugh, which was quickly silence as her mouth descended upon his. Strong arms came up around her shoulders, trying to pull her closer and Alice felt a flutter in her stomach, feeling the want in the way his hands flattened against her shoulder blade and spine. It wasn't a sweet, warm flutter like they describe in story books, nor a sizzling burn of desire like those spoken of in romance novels. It was the same uncomfortable, dully panicked feeling she always got and had long ago learned to live with; even associate with pleasure. Her butterflies must be defective.
She kept the kiss short, as they were on the floor of her place of work and it was unacceptable for Master Yakata to hear about - or unthinkably see - her like this. But, she knew it would please Jack and so had taken the risk. As she pulled back, she could still taste him and knew the smoothness in his voice was a direct result of the way he tasted. Smooth like caramel, cool like mint, and heady like a sip of strong liquor.
"The pain is, eh, lower down," Jack said, eyes flicking down his chest, lips forming a rakish grin. Alice rolled her eyes and leaned back, getting her feet under her to stand. "No, don't get up. I need medical attention!" The man protested. She only snorted out a laugh and took his hand, pulling him to his feet. He caught her shoulders and tried to move in for another kiss, but she waylaid him with a stern finger to his lips. Jack knew her well enough by now that there were times he should just back down. It never ceased to make her heart give a little thump that he actually did so, respecting her personal boundaries. He could read her so well.
"So, tonight?" he moved on, releasing her. Alice smiled widely, turning away quickly so he wouldn't see the childish glee in her expression. She didn't want to scare him off by letting him see just how much this meant to her. Her bottle of water resting on the windowsill made a perfect distraction.
"Seven," she forced her voice to a normal tone, not high and squeaky as it was wont to get when she was particularly excited. "My mother is so looking forward to it." Right, it was her mother who couldn't get to sleep the night before.
Jack's pale reflection in the glass smiled at her. "Good for your mum. I am, too." She lifted the bottle to his lips, not because she was thirsty, but because it kept her from biting one of them. He was so wonderful. "What have you told her about me?"
It was one of those Jack questions that had some kind of subtle undercurrent. Alice could always tell them apart from the others, but never knew what the deeper meaning was. She was always afraid to answer, afraid whatever she said would be wrong, would ruin her image in the man's eyes. A converstaion that felt like a lovely stroll in the park would suddenly become a field of land mines. During the second month of their relationship, she had started to avoid answering those heavy questions whenever she could.
"Just that your leg kicks need work," she told him with a forced air of lightness. He chuckled and her stomach unclenched.
"It's true." He smiled at her and stepped forward, silently asking permission this time. She lowered the water bottle and tilted her chin upwards, granting his request. How could she not, when he was so wonderful? Those cool, skilled lips met hers again for just a moment and then Jack was smiling down at her with what must be tender affection, if not something more. "Until tonight." He said by way of parting, brushing his fingers across the back of her empty hand. Phew, the man was smooth as satin sheets.
At twenty-four, Alice could - perhaps should - have been out on her own. She was not. She still lived at home with her mother, in the same house she had lived in her entire life. It wasn't a huge house, no bigger than the ones that flanked it and the ones aside those and on and on down the street where she lived. Yet, somehow, it always seemed just a bit too large, just a tad empty, like if you were to speak that smidgeon too loudly, it might echo. Well, not always, just for the last thirteen years, three months, and nineteen days. Give or take.
The men on Alice's computer screen, smiling and looking at her like puppies in a pet shop - or so it seemed to the girl - were each summarily glanced at and rejected. None of them had the unruly curls she'd always wished she had inherited, none of them had the wry smile or twinkling hazel eyes she told herself she no longer missed. Robert Hamilton, father and husband, had vanished into the wind those thirteen odd years ago without so much as a Post-It or kiss goodbye.
At ten years old, Alice was completely a child, not having begun the treacherous march towards womanhood just yet. The loss of her father without warning or explanation at confused and frightened her, left her feeling lost and adrift on the vast sea of existence. After the initial shock and panic had worn off, mother was learning to cope with knowledge that her husband was very certainly dead and gone, a victim of the random violence her world was rife with, but Alice refused such a concept outright. People didn't just die and vanish. She knew that. That sort of thing didn't even happen on TV, they always found a grave, a body, something; a finger, even, on that one episode of Law & Order she wasn't supposed to have watched, but did anyway. There must be another explanation.
At first, she had been convinced her father had witnessed a murder or drug deal, something hugely dangerous and important and been whisked away into witness protection. Then came the theory that perhaps Robert Hamilton had never existed, her father was really a fabulously adventurous spy and had to rush out on a perilous mission. Of course, he would use his considerable skills to complete the mission and, defying his superiors, come home to the wife and daughter he so loved. Most of her certainties on her father's whereabouts ran along these lines until she turned twelve and one of the girls in her class, Madison Lewis, had cried in the bathroom because her father had left her and her mother to go and live in California with the woman he had been having an affair with; the woman he'd been seeing so long, he had another child with her who was almost as old as Madison.
Much older and wiser and no longer interested in children's fancies, Alice could only come to the conclusion that her father - like Madison's - had abandoned her for another family, another life. How could another woman be more beautiful, more loving, more anything than her mother? No, it had to be something else. Alice had been a difficult birth, very dangerous to her mother in fact, the complications of which had made it impossible for her to have any more children. Was that it? Was the other child a son, the son Carol - her mother - had been unable to provide?
If Alice was the reason her father had left, then she must be able to do something to make him come home again. If she could only prove to him that she was good enough, that she was better than the Other Child, he would undoubtedly see the error of his ways and come back to them. The girl began to work herself to the bone in school, bringing home straight A's and joining every extracurricular she could manage. None of it worked. Okay, she just had to do something bigger, something her father couldn't ignore. Spelling Bee and Mathlete competitions to district and county levels respectively didn't do the trick, but she was sure that her eighth grade science project would be the clincher. Something topical and interesting, complicated and time consuming and impressive for a girl of her age, Alice had been so sure her breakdown of the scientific process of cloning an extinct animal - as done in the movie Jurassic Park - would get her father's attention at last. She spent months on the project, even managing to speak with actual geneticists, and so meticulous in her research and conclusions. But even taking first place at state had not been enough to bring Robert Hamilton back to New York City.
Crushed and hurt anew, as Alice entered high school, she decided she didn't care anymore. Her grades dropped, her friends changed and so did she. Angry and cynical, she lashed out at her absent father by running with a bad crowd and getting herself into trouble in more ways than one. She told herself it was because she didn't care, but really it was the same attention garnering behavior swung to the opposite extreme. If she couldn't be good enough to make her father take notice, she would just have to be bad enough, then.
This phase didn't last nearly as long as the other, as it hurt Alice far too much to see her mother cry. After the police brought her home that first and only time, she had agreed it would be a good idea to change schools, make a fresh start. At sixteen, smart and pretty and eager to be accepted, Alice had no trouble finding a place for herself in the new school. As a bonus, she discovered something else - the wonderful feeling of adult male approval and praise. So, her reestablished good grades and behavior were followed by art, drama, and soccer - all of which she excelled at and all of which were presided over by men. As always, there is more to the story, but let us return to the present for the moment, as mother is coming into the room.
"Where are these from?" Carol Hamilton asked of the men being dismissed, one by one, from Alice's computer screen.
"Where is that? Is that Hawaii?" her tone intrigued.
"New Zealand," Alice clarified.
"Ooh, nice." Her mother chimed, turning to go. "If Daddy's in New Zealand, maybe I'll go looking for him myself."
Her daughter sighed softly, shutting down the computer and standing. "Well, he's not in Kokatahi." Carol still always called the man "Daddy" and Alice never, not even in her rebellious phase, had the heart to ask her to stop. Her mother felt sorrow and loss, but the betrayal that filled Alice's heart was hers alone. Mother humored the girl her search for her missing parent, but never so far as to give her hope that it might someday yield positive results. Alice knew Carol only let it go because she believed it was her child's way of coping, dealing, and soon she would finally accept the fact that her father was not to be found.
Alice knew better. Robert Hamilton was out there somewhere. She need only look under the right rock to find him. Then, she would be able to give him the metaphorical kick in the balls he was thirteen plus years overdue for. It certainly wasn't because she just wanted to see her dad again; wanted him to see her. Of course not.