A/N: Written purely because I'm ready to shoot someone. Seriously.
Burton!Alice, obviously. I don't own it – again, obviously.
Why yes, I am writing this while severely pissed off. A swearword or two.
A VI(T)AL DIFFERENCE
'You could stay ...?'
The faint suggestion turned up uncertainly into a question at the end, like a sad smile, hanging in the air and daring to hope that someone would catch it.
Alice turned to her friend, a smiling pulling at her mouth despite herself.
'What an idea,' she said softly, 'what a crazy, mad, wonderful idea.'
The Hatter held her gaze long after anyone else would have looked away, colours flitting through his open eyes. He was so many colours all at once; crazy, mad and wonderful – he was a rainbow arching across the sky unafraid of the rain, and so bursting with muchness that she had to look away before she got caught up in too many crazy, mad, wonderful ideas about chasing it.
Her eyes dropped to the Jabberwocky blood held in her hand. Slowly she lifted it up, feeling the Hatter's eyes following it with bated breath. As she studied the purple blood with an echo of the childlike curiosity still inside her, the vile caught the light –
Alice's head snapped up, shooting the Hatter a bemused glance. However, he seemed just as perplexed, shrugging. Alice shook her head and turned back to the vile –
'Who was that?'
The pair looked over at Mirana, who was occupied with ushering away the other Underlanders to give the Hatter and Alice space to say their goodbyes; floating busily between the humans and the animals, tending to the wounded and thanking the brave. No one else had started at the mysterious voice – indeed no one else seemed to have heard it. Just as Alice was about to put it down to exhaustion and an already over-active imagination and take up her pondering over the vile –
'OH MY GOD!'
'Can you hear that?' said Alice, both her and the Hatter looking around for source of it.
'Chess?' called the Hatter suspiciously, scanning the air for the telltale wisp of blue-grey smoke.
'Oh, over here!' snapped the voice behind them, using the tone of an adult talking to a very stupid child.
Alice and the Hatter turned to see a rather curious thing, even for them. A rip had appeared in the air, about a metre off the ground, and a very irritated head was poking through it, attached to a pair of hunched shoulders. Alice stared at it, eyes wide.
'Curiouser and –'
'Oh, shut up,' the head interrupted impatiently. It was the head of a young girl, freckle-faced, adolescent, and extremely miffed. She scowled at the vile –
Both Alice and the Hatter jumped a little at this sudden cry of frustration, bumping into one another.
'It's SIMPLE!' the girl bellowed. One arm suddenly shot out of the rip, snatched the bottle of Jabberwocky blood from Alice's shocked fingers and threw it hard against the ground, spilling the precious blood and smashing the glass –
'VIAL!' screamed the girl, slightly demented now, 'IT'S "VIAL"! Not "VILE"! V-I-A-L!'
'Does it make a difference?' frowned Alice.
The girl hesitated for a moment, then said petulantly, 'yes.'
Alice exchanged a dubious and slightly amused glance with the Hatter.
'Ugh!' huffed the girl, noticing this, and continuing heatedly, 'the difference is; they are two completely different words! COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, I SAY! A vial is a kind of small bottle, i.e – a vial of Jabberwocky blood! "Vile", however, means horrible, terrible, all round nasty, i.e – YOUR SPELLING! AND I've even seen 'veil' used, as if Alice is drinking from a piece of semi-transparent cloth, I mean that's just taking the …'
Here the girl descended into a fury-driven rant and became quite difficult to understand. She continued in the same vein for a few minutes, before the Hatter decided that this really was getting a little too silly.
'… I mean, it's just "there", "their", and "they're" all over again, isn't it?! COME ON, IT IS NOT THAT HARD! FOR GOD'S SAKE, SPEAK ENGLISH! I can't understand what the hell you're saying, and what's more, I don't think you do either –'
'Excuse me,' he said, giving a little wave to get her attention.
The girl stopped and stared at him unnervingly.
'Yes. Well,' he continued, 'I was just … wondering … are you meant to be here?'
The girl considered this.
'Uh, no, not really, no.' Her eyes went from the Hatter, to the frowning Alice, to the smashed vial on the ground. A pained, "oh, shit" expression spread over her face.
'Self-inserts? Messing-with-canon self inserts?' she bit her lip worriedly. 'I'm straying dangerously into Sue territory …' she added to herself, looking positively horrified at the very thought, 'excuse me, I think I'll have to go do some soul searching …'
With that she pulled herself back inside the rip, which disappeared with a pop.
There was silence for a few seconds, before Alice turned back to the Hatter.
'Is that normal?' she asked, somewhat thrown by the whole experience.
The Hatter shook his head, nonplussed.
'You were making a decision,' he said quietly, his eyes once again searching hers for reassurance.
'Well, I …' she looked pointedly at the broken vial – the blood had already seeped away into the chessboard ground.
'Oh,' he said, the shape of his mouth mimicking the word itself. A smile threatened to break out, but he hesitated, watching her. 'And that's … alright?'
'There were things I needed to do … and questions I needed to answer …' she said slowly, and his face fell.
'I understand,' he nodded, averting his gaze. Not being able to see into him broke something inside of her, and she slipped a shy little hand into his.
'But if I had to be stuck in one world,' she added, tilting her head to peep into the hiding eyes beneath the hat brim, 'I would choose to be stuck in yours.'
At her words he looked up, a crazy, mad, wonderful grin filling his face in a way it never had before.
A/N: Well, that turned into a sappy, clichéd piece of –
Oh, and by the by, if you're one of those people who have spelt 'vial' wrong in one of their stories, don't think it means your story is terrible, because sometimes that one word is the only flaw in a very good story. Also, please don't think I'm specifically having a go at you. I'm having a go at all of you.