Disclaimers and such: Don't own nu'in. Besides my face. And my trombone. And yo mamma. (sorry, that was in really, really, really bad taste.) I took a few minor liberties in this to make my story go smoother.

BANG!

Alice heard the shot before she could even registers Hatter's body propelling itself across the room and landing with a thud and a clatter amidst a fortress of books.

She blinked.

And then Dodo hit the floor with a quick punch to the stomach, and Alice was out the door.

Just like that.

There had been few times that Alice, martial arts master, black belt, and confident young woman, had run from danger.

Why, she thought as adrenaline surged up through her limbs.

Why, now, of all times. There's a man who got shot. A vaguely creepy man, quite frankly, but a person, an individual, dying on the floor.

She imagined the scenario.

She imagined-what was her name again? Bird? Crow?- scooping up his body, blood leaking over that garishly bright shirt of his, pooling in the folds of a brown leather jacket. That other man, not "Dodo", laying aside his gun for a moment, pressing his hand against the wound- Hatter's eyes wide and glassy and dull and-

She'd reached the elevator.

Scrambling in, she pressed buttons, pulled levers desperately. A mechanic she had never been, and the complex dials leered up at her expectantly.

"The blue one!"

A familiar sound.

A sound sophisticated and edgy, the clipped accent hinting vaguely at smug humour and now desperation.

She turned to see him scrambling towards her, entangled in the limbs of Dodo.

He turned towards her.

"Press it!"

And then he went down, cuffed on the jaw by the surprisingly agile Dodo, who straddled him.

Alice hesitated.

Somehow, this crude, bizarre, and unsavory character, in this nightmare world he called Wonderland, had made her feel…bound to him.

Not just because his face was mottled with bruises (though she did note he looked quite a bit better from that beating than she'd expect).

Not just because he had brought her here, perhaps under the assumption that things would end cheery.

Not because of his "bad-boy" personage (she'd never really gone for lewd young men that had that certain sort of swagger)

Not because he didn't deserved the mouthful of carpet that he was currently swallowing as Dodo ground his face into the floor. (Because he did)

And most certainly not because he was an…attractive…youthful, sort of man. (Even though she did acknowledge that he did possess a degree of masculine charm)

But still, somewhere amongst the turmoil of watching a person doubled over in pain, and the anger she felt towards him who she had, for some inexplicable reason, trusted, he made her melt.

Like that sweet carnival taffy she had always loved, oozing out of its wax-paper shell under a hot summer sun.

And then, when she had rescued him, and realized that the whole shot-up bit had been an act (though Dodo was indeed trying to kill them), the taffy-feeling that had been running through her body dissipated in an instant.

Idiot, she thought.