A hooded figure strode up to the doors of the White Rabbit Agency, its quick steps ringing out on the ground. The figure pulled at the handle but it was locked. The man grumbled under his breath and rapped twice on the door. A few minutes later, the door swung open.
"Took you bunnies bloody well long enough," he said with a smirk to the brown-suited agent who stood before him.
"If you wish to speak to the boss, you'll need to learn some better manners than that," said Brown Suit, glaring.
"My apologies, Rrrrabbit. Now if you'll let me speak to your head cottontail-I mean agent?"
The agent bit back a snarling retort and inclined his head sharply. "This way." He spun on his heel and quick-marched into the gloom. The man in the hood had quite a time keeping up, and was more than relieved when the agent came to a stop at the end of one of the many long hallways. Before them stood a large fancy door covered in warped glass.
"There's a guest here to see you," called Brown Suit, glancing stiffly at the figure beside him.
"Ah, yes, I ve been expecting this one," came a low voice from inside. "Send him in."
The Brown Suit pressed his finger to the curiously-shaped lock beneath the door knob. It looked like a clock, but with three hands rather than two. The little hands began to spin in synchronization until they all pointed up. The door opened with a click.
The visitor stepped slowly into the room, lowering his hood.
So this was where the head honcho of the White Rabbit Agency resided. It was a simple room, white walls and white tiled floor, with a large White Rabbit insignia engraved on one wall. Large off-white filing cabinets pressed against each wall, forming a rectangle. And within the rectangle, the heart of the room itself, was a long grayish marble desk with a tall white chair behind it.
The chair slowly swiveled around to reveal the Ten of Clubs. His former long black cloaks had been replaced with white ones, but the trademark black hat of the clubs still remained atop his head.
The visitor's mouth dropped open. "You? I thought you d-"
"Died when the Alice Oyster and that hat-wearing traitor made Hearts Casino fall? Crushed to bits along with the King and Queen of Hearts? Really, I thought you'd have more faith in me, old friend. Don't think I've forgotten about you, I know we ended up on opposite sides during the war against the Hearts regime but now it's all done and through. And when it ended, when I realized my former queen had in fact murdered the Rabbit who ran this agency, well it didn't take too long for me to step in and convince them how they desperately required my services." He grinned.
Then the smile melted into a stony expression. "Now what is it you want? I know you would only come here for your own selfish needs." He folded his hands in his lap and looked up at the man through icy eyes.
Ten of Clubs sounded so different, the visitor noted. Like a well-oiled machine, greasy and slick as one of the tea hagglers that used to roam the streets. Ten had always been happy with a simpler life, taking the Queen s orders and helping with duties around the palace. Apparently the need for power had changed him as well.
"You know me too well," replied the guest. "So what is it your little sham of a company can offer me?"
"Sham?" said Ten softly. He lifted a cup off his desk and took a deep sip of whatever was inside.
"Well, what use is a White Rabbit Agency, a secret organization designed specifically for wreeenching those scrumptious little Oysters out of their grubby little hiding spots, when that nasty little Jack Heart has forbid the tea and the use of Oysters all together?"
Ten of Clubs turned the little teacup slowly around in his fingers. "Oh surely you've learned this by now. Just because someone comes to you with a proposal doesn't mean you have to agree, does it?"
The visitor distinctly remembered, a year ago, a scene just as Ten described. It hadn't ended peacefully. "So you're still running the business then?"
Ten gazed coldly at him. "I see what your purpose is now. You're an addict, aren't you, just like all the other poor damned souls who come up to the door, begging to know if the White Rabbit is still making trips to the other side. Alice and her little companion thought they would fix everything. Instead, they only caused more problems."
"An emotion-hungry addict with mush for brains? Never in my life. But I do need some tea for someone else."
"For whom, your alter ego?" Ten set the cup down with a sharp clink.
"No. For the Red Queen."
Ten stared at him and did not say anything, so the guest continued.
"Just think about it! I ve been informed that Jack Heart is running away with that blond tart, and he's told the Queens that the winner of the next chess game will be the new Queen of Wonderland. Imagine it! Red's always been the weakest link, everyone knows that. I'll befriend her, and give her advice, and unbeknownst to her, slip her some emotion, making her stronger than ever for the final match, and then once she is crowned supreme Queen she'll be so grateful for my help that I will be the new King. And-"
The Ten of Clubs cut off the grand speech. "And what's in it for me? What do I get for all my troubles of fetching Oysters for you and your greedy plans?"
"Well you'll have more power than ever before, I m certain I can convince her to legalize tea and Oysters again, you ll just have to wait and see."
"Very well, Dodo, I trust you are still a man of your word. I happen to have a few crates of emotion at the moment but it s all we've managed to get our hands on for now, what with the draining lab headquarters destroyed last year. If this plan of yours fails you will be sorry." He stood and clapped his hands.
Immediately two gray-suited agents hurried into the room and wrapped up two crates for Dodo. "Thank you, gentlemen," he said with a slimy grin, clutching them tightly, "and you, Ten." The agents escorted him out.
As the door slammed shut, the Ten of Clubs tapped on the side of his ear.
"Did the bird take the bait, Ten?" said a tinny voice from the earpiece.
"Yes, he did not seem suspicious at all, Master Rabbit. He really thought I was the one saying all that!"
"Good, good, you're playing your part very well. I'm very curious to see what will happen next."