I have no idea where this idea came from. The stupid plot bunny has been gnawing on the inside of my brain since I saw the movie and fell in love with Hicox about two/three weeks ago. Why aren't there any HicoxOC stories on here, anyways? Have I missed them? Well, anyhow, I don't know what I'm going to be doing with this. Maybe it'll just be this one random part. Maybe I'll update it. Haven't decided. And if I do update, don't expect it to be on a regular, predictable basis. I'm hit with inspiration very rarely, and very erratically, and all I've thought up is this one part and some odd events afterwards.
Anyhow. If you like, wunderbar. If you don't, that's okay too. I'm just throwing it out there.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own -sob- so please don't sue. Sander is mine, though. And the weirdness is mine, too. And man I wish Hicox was.
RATING: M. Does this really need an explanation? If I'm going to make it into a story, it will be chock full 'o that good, basterdly violence and language.
-Note: italics are mainly thoughts.
It happens on a pleasant spring day. The sky is clear. The breeze is cool. And the sunshine is pale and cheerful, spilling down through the trees in a swirling, hazy shimmer. It's the perfect spring day. Too perfect. In fact, it's so horribly immaculate that she should have known something like this was bound to happen.
. . . .okay. Maybe not something exactly like this, but something nevertheless.
Because it isn't on any normal spring day that one would simply take a stroll through the forest and fall down a rabbit hole. And this is exactly what happens. In one moment, she is walking. Bored. Wandering down the path that spirals down, down, down into the twisted depths of the forest. And in the next moment, she's not walking. She's falling. The ground simply vanishes beneath her feet, and she falls. Wind stings her skin like the shallow slices of shattered glass. Fills her burning eyes with tears. Pressure so tight it squeezes her lungs, until she can't breathe. Gasping. Choking. And then, darkness. She's terrified she's gone blind as she twists and flails and scrabbles outwards with desperate hands. Nails scrap uselessly through empty air.
Falling. Falling. So dark it seems to smother her. Wraps a black fist around her throat and sends bursts of white pain exploding behind her eyelids.
Time escapes her as she keeps falling. A minute. An hour. Eternity. But then, there's light. Sudden and painful and warm and so very, very bright. It swallows the darkness and illuminates the spinning world. Everything has gone. . . .blue. A cold blue. A dangerous blue. Chunks of sky and rainbow speed past her in sickening blurs. She tumbles, head over heels, too petrified to scream. To frozen with disbelief to cry.
Falling. Falling. Greenish smudges of treetops. Branches extending like gnarled, deformed fingers, reaching for her. Calling for her. Wanting to strip the flesh from her bones and display her broken form from their bloody, weeping boughs. It's awful. Horrifying. She's imaging the pulpy splat her body is going to make the moment she hits the ground.
And she does. Hit the ground, a moment later. There's no time to brace herself for the bruising impact, but, that's all it does. Bruise her. Badly. Which is something absurd and mystifying and completely impossible in of itself.
What the hell? How am I not dead?
Something hard and gritty is pressing against the side of her face. A low, pained groan issues from her cracked lips. There's a ringing, reverberating around the inside of her skull. And every tiny piece of her battered and trembling form aches like nothing she has never felt before.
A voice. She hears a voice, echoing from. . . .somewhere. At first she thinks that it's the trees, whispering all around her.
Trees don't whisper, stupid, she argues with herself. A scowl pulls at the left side of her throbbing face. But I also should also be dead. So. . . . Shit. I've finally cracked. Wonderland does exist and the trees here speak German. Chuck would get a fuckin' kick out of this. . . .
Slowly, carefully. She attempts to peel her eyelids back and winces, since every breath she shakily draws in sends knives into her lungs and white hot fire racing through chest. A cracked rib? Maybe two? Bone bruises? Should she feel lucky, or just angry?
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! Her new surroundings swim dizzyingly into view. On weak arms she props herself up, blinking in hazy confusion at the sight her brain is registering. Where's the White Rabbit? The vivid, beautiful insanity? What the hell kind of a Wonderland is this?
She's laying in the middle of a dirt road. A worn, nondescript dirt road marked with tire tracks. Towering trees rise up, up, and away on her either side, harsh shades of green and brown and black and rustling ominously as a chilled wind whips straight through her. And that deep, melodic voice. Shouting. Calling for someone in a lilt of German. There's nothing bright and fantastical about this dreary place whatsoever.
I though Louis Carroll was some whacked English guy? Where the hell does the German come into this? Hell. . . .
She shakes her head, but then immediately regrets it as a spike of pain drills itself right between her eyes. Ouch. Shit. Whimpering in pitiful agony before, gingerly, easing her protesting limbs into a kneeling position. Bones pop and crack beneath her. Stiff and tense and excruciating. But she forces herself to ignore it, even if the straining effort pulls her paled, sweating face into something of an awkward grimace. Get it together, Sander. You've dealt with worse.
True enough. Thought it's not reassuring. Sander lets her narrowed gaze sweep the vicinity, and her eyes focus in on a very strange image not too far away. A piece of dark olive canvas, shredded and fluttering and caught up in one of the nearby trees. Like, a parachute canvas? Because the inhabitants of Wonderland are really adept at jumping out of airplanes? Wait, Wonderland has airplanes? Huh. I never would have guessed.
Sander squints into the fog of cool sunshine, shielding her bloodshot eyes with a hand to get a better look at this parachute. At first, she thinks that it's the wind that keeps rustling the strings and the rough material. Until, after a moment, she realizes that someone is still attached to the parachute, and he's the one jerkily twisting the canvas and the strings. Desperately trying to free himself. And she also realizes that she is the one he is waving at and calling for in that lovely, lilting German.
Well, what do you know? The Hatter is stuck in a tree, and it's up to Alice to save him, Sander muses, gently pushing herself up onto her feet. Wincing again. But getting surprisingly skillful at hiding her discomfort, as she forces the expression away and clenches her jaw to mask it. He won't last long if he can't get out. So, what choice do I have? I sure as hell would want someone to help me if I was stuck in a tree. Ha. That rhymes.
She closes the distance between them in a few easy strides. But when her eyes flicker over the uniform he's wearing, her breath freezes in her chest, and she abruptly stops. Stunned. Not quite sure if she is actually seeing what she is seeing, because what she is seeing is really quite shocking. The man is wearing a uniform. And not just any uniform, either. The numerous and fancy buttons on his once. . . .immaculate lapel, shine like diamonds as his long, lithe form bends towards her, into the sunlight.
Let me get this fucking straight: Alice falls into a 1940s Wonderland and the Hatter is really a Nazi? REALLY? Sander gawks at the man, with his smoothed and flawless skin flushed from the heat of his struggle, and ridiculously blue, gleaming eyes wide beneath his ruffled slick of brown hair. Stray strands are plastered unevenly against his forehead.
Blinking. Startled. Sander shakes her head and crashes back into the real world, as the man keeps going on and on and on about nothing. But she doesn't mind his continued ramblings because he speaks the coarse language with such a interesting accent. It's incredibly nice to listen to. Which is weird. Isn't it? Not that she's an expert on German accents or anything; she's only been taking lessons for a week and can't pick out any words other than help me and please and bits like that in his ramble.
But he's a fucking Nazi! I should just leave him up there!
. . . .right? I mean, if that rabbit hole did take me into some twisted, parallel World War II Wonderland. . . .then I should leave him.
But as Sander wills her feet to move, to turn away from the trapped man and continue on down the dirt road, her muddied boots won't budge. Not an inch. And she can't tear herself away from those wide and pleading eyes. They are so very, very blue, and so very distressed. . . .
Goddamn conscience, Sander finally scowls. There's got to be something horribly wrong with me, something that Chuck doesn't even know about yet, if I'm feeling freakin' sorry for Nazis. She takes a step closer. And another. And then another. Until she's standing almost directly underneath him, and his own shined boots are dangling about a foot above her head.
Hmm. . . . This might be more difficult than I thought. She backs up some so she can see the man's face again. He's still talking in that deep, honeyed German, motioning with a hand wrapped in parachute bindings and having a rather difficult time doing so. It almost looks like he's trying to point to one of his feet. Or maybe a leg. A pant leg. No, an ankle? Could he have a knife strapped to his ankle? God knows that she doesn't keep any knives on her or in her backpack. Not anymore, at least. Not since she's started seeing Chuck, some eight or nine months ago.
"Here?" She mimics his movements and points at his left ankle. "Is it here?"
The man pauses. His brows shoot up into his ruffled hair, eyes widening even more so in surprise as he stares down at her. "A Yankee? Well. . . .this is completely unexpected." He says. And his tone, and his expression, is saturated with honest relief.
"But unexpected or not, this is bloody fortunate, indeed. Um, as you might have guessed, I missed my drop zone and. . . ." He jerks his head towards the flapping canvas of the parachute. Half of a sheepish smile takes to his curved lips. "And I got a bit tied up on the way down. Would you mind helping me out for a moment?"
Sander blinks at him. Trying to sort through everything that this man just said, even if he spoke clear and perfect English. Oo-kay, then. The Hatter is really an Englishman impersonating a Nazi. Does that happen often in Wonderland, or is there something even fuckin' weirder going on here than I figured?
"Please, by all means. Take your time." The Englishman says lightly. He looks down one end of the dirt road, and then the other. "But you do know if any Germans happen by, they will shoot us on sight. Well, maybe not me, since I could probably lie my way out of this situation. . . . But they would shoot you, as being a Yankee in France right now very much makes it seem like you're a spy. And I would hate for you to get shot. Truly."
Sander blinks again. But this time she's quicker to understand the stranger and the current danger of their bizarre predicament, despite her mounting and overwhelming confusion. France? I'm in a French World War II Wonderland with a Nazi-impersonating Englishman? What the fuck?! I swear I haven't been mixing my pills up again, Chuck. I swear that this is actually fuckin' happening right now. . . .
An anxious jolt reanimates her limbs and she hurries closer to the Englishman, heart beginning to pound against her sore ribcage as she reaches up for his boot.
"The left one. Right. It's only a pocket knife, but it should work." He tells her, frowning. Looking just as anxious as Sander is so violently feeling at this particular moment. Her fingers fumble clumsily through the laces, and it takes a few, excruciatingly long minutes for her to untangle the knots and slip off the boot. And all the while she keeps daring glances over her shoulder. To her left down the road. Then to her right. Straining her ears for any of the smallest possible sounds.
Not that the wind rustling the leaves and the branches makes that task any easier.
Shit, shit, shit! Move, Sander! Since when the hell does Alice have to worry about getting shot in Wonderland, anyways?! She sinks her teeth deep into the side of her mouth, sliding the small, glinting fold of red metal out from the loop around the man's ankle. With a swish it pops open. A small and shiny razor blade about an inch long.
She steps back to survey the severity of this situation. The locking device on the 'chute's pack seems to be jammed shut around the Englishman's middle; hence why he can't simply unbuckle himself and then be on his merry way. Not to mention his arms and hands, which are wound up in the cords in such a manner that it makes him look like a living puppet. So even if the lock wasn't jammed, he still couldn't unbuckle himself, anyways.
And then there's the problem of height. Because, though she might be taller than the average standards for a teenaged girl, she isn't that tall. So she definitely can't reach any of the strings to cut him loose.
Okay. I'll improvise, then. Her eyes dart to the tree nearest the Englishman, noting all of its branches and footholds and weak spots to avoid in a matter of frantic seconds. Then she launches herself up into its midst, sharp ends of sticks poking and clawing at her skin and her face as she climbs up, up, and up, knife between her teeth. Scowling and muttering angrily to herself as the branches cut shallow slices into every inch of her exposed flesh. Hatter, you better be fuckin' worth this trouble I'm going through, you know that?
Finally, Sander swings her leg over a thick, sturdy branch that's level with the Englishman's shoulders. He's staring at her unblinkingly, as impressed as he is startled. "You'll have to forgive me." He says humbly, a glint in his shining blue eyes. "I seem to have underestimated your capability for taking impromptu action under a great deal of pressure. Do you, by any chance, work for the American Government?"
Sander feels a familiar pull in the left side of her face, but doesn't try too hard to restrain the partial, lopsided smirk. "Well if I did, Hatter, I couldn't possibly tell you that. Because then I'd have to kill you." She says, with utmost seriousness, smirk vanishing. As she in leans close, but not too close. Just far enough off of the branch to reach the jumbled cords and begin sawing away at them.
"Oh. Of course." The Englishman agrees. "I daresay, your secret would be safe with me, though." A glittering grin flits about his mouth for a minute, until his brows abruptly furrow. "Wait a moment. . . ." He frowns. "Did you just call me 'Hatter?'"
Sander stops. Six chords cut, and about two dozen more to go. "Should I not have? Do you go by a different name here? Well. . . .it wouldn't be all that surprising if you did, I guess. This is some fucked up place, I'll tell ya." She shakes her head and resumes her sawing. The Englishman, every so few she breaks, falls another inch lower, closer towards the ground.
And he's staring at her as if he is suddenly seeing her in very different light. His frown is thoughtful now, or perhaps thoughtfully incredulous. "Are you all right?" He asks. Sounding mildly concerned. "When I crashed, you were just laying in the road there. . . .what happened? Was it the Germans?"
She blinks. Caught up in the silvery fathoms of those curiously blue, absurdly blue eyes of his. It disarms her for a moment, and she comes a bit too close to chopping off one of the Englishman's fingers as he, with a grateful nod, pulls his left hand free.
"Um. No. It wasn't the Germans. But I'm okay." Sander shrugs, looking away from the man uncomfortably. "My head kind of hurts, but I'm okay."
He doesn't believe her. She can tell by his obvious expression, and she also does well to ignore it as she cuts his right hand free. His skin is marked all over with pulsing, angry red lines, from where the strings bit so deeply into his flesh. He gives a great sigh, rubbing his hands together with a genuine air of gratefulness.
"I might have something in my bag you can take for your head." He offers. "It is, after all, the least I can do-"
One last cut, and the Englishman falls free. Sending up a cloud of shimmering dust and dirt when he thumps to the ground, followed by the parachute's backpack, which lands next to him in a smaller puff of dust.
"That could have definitely gone much worse than it did." He flashes a grin up at Sander as she, less than gracefully, swings down from the branch and thuds down in front of the man. He has gotten up and is dusting off his lovely jacket, readjusting buttons and the prim, smartly cut collar, before running a hand through his sleek hair and slicking it back, off of his face.
"Thank you." His smile is full of even, white teeth. "I probably would have been hanging there for hours if you hadn't been around."
"I was considering leaving you here, you know. I thought you were a Nazi at first." Sander admits. She reaches down, hefts up the olive bag, and then holds it out to him.
He nods, accepting the pack and stringing it over his shoulder. "I could have hardly blamed you if you had left. But, do you mind me inquiring. . . .as to why you didn't? As an American, and if you thought I was a Nazi. . . ." He trails off curiously.
I'm still wondering about that myself. "I'm not technically American." Sander settles for, instead. And the motley pair set off down the road, hidden just enough, off to the side and in the trees, to remain out of sight if anyone were to happen by.
"Hmm." The Englishman considers this. Interest piqued. "You do have a slight accent. Russian?" He guesses, removing a handsome handgun from his waistband and examining it for any damage.
Sander's eyes follow that pistol. Riveted. "Bravo, Captain. You know your accents."
He glances at her in amusement. "And you know your ranks. Though I am only masquerading as a Captain, which you no doubt have figured out. I must say, you are full of peculiar surprises, Miss. . . ?"
She turns her eyes to the shadowy underbrush stretching out before them, shoulders drooping. It's darker and colder, off of the road. I hope we're going back to his gardens for tea. Even if I don't like tea. Hell; anything warm sounds great right about now.
"Sander. Arkov. And if you're not Hatter, then who are you?" She wonders suspiciously. "Other than an Englishman pretending to be a Nazi in Wonderland, of course."
He's in the middle of rifling around in his bag, now, and has a bottle of what looks like aspirin in his hand when he pauses. And gives her the strangest look she has ever seen. "Pardon? Are you sure you're all right? We're in France, Miss Arkov. France. Not a Lewis Carroll fairytale."
Sander stares at him, her eyes narrowing carefully. "So. . . .you're really not Hatter? And that rabbit hole I fell down. . . . Really?" Disappointment colors across her crestfallen face. "This really isn't Wonderland?" I can't believe this! If this isn't Wonderland, then. . . .fuck!
"Dear Lord." The Englishman mutters, more to himself than to Sander. "No, sweetheart." He gives her a painstaking smile and pats her gently on the shoulder. "This isn't Wonderland, and I'm not the Hatter. My name is Lieutenant Archie Hicox, and this is Nazi-occupied France."
Sander sighs. "I guess that makes more sense. Sorry, Hicox. I'm really not crazy." Sense, yeah. But does it make me feel better? Hell, no! And about that 'crazy' part. . . . I'm reconsidering it. She throws back the two aspirin he offered her and chases it down with a swig of Gatorade she stowed in her own bag. Lemon Lime flavored. Her favorite.
Hicox chuckles, not uncomfortably, but the warm sound does have a bit of an unsure edge to it now. "Don't apologize, Miss. You must have taken quite a hit, there. That's all. Do you remember how you ended up in the road?"
Sure do. I fell down a rabbit hole. But something tells me that won't go over very well, and I don't think I should be freakin' out Mister Hatter any more than he kind of all ready is, she thinks dryly. Since he's the only person I know now, the last thing I want to do is have him abandon me.
"Um. . . .no. I don't remember. Maybe it was the Germans, after all." Sander shrugs.
"Well, you are wearing an American uniform." Hicox adds, an eyebrow quirked. "Perhaps you're a soldier, and you were merely separated from your squadron?"
Sander looks down at herself, realizing, with a twitch of nervousness, that she is, quite plainly, dressed in her usual army jacket, t-shirt, and cargos. Which would of course look like an American uniform to a Brit in the '40s. Shit. This sure isn't getting any easier.
"Uh, maybe." She clear her throat awkwardly. "I don't know. So. . . .mind if I stick with you? Until some of my memory comes back, at least?"
Hicox looks at her. Endless blue eyes dripping golden, as golden as his accent. A soft smile touches upon the corners of his lips. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt. Besides, I owe you. And maybe you know how far away we are from Nadine? My drop zone was about fifteen miles outside of the city, and, unfortunately. . . ." He glances around them with half of an crooked, abashed grin. "I have absolutely no idea where we are."
"Let's see." Sander adopts her very serious face and looks around, too. Her eyes are narrowed, and her mouth is pressed into a tight line. Hicox seems as if he isn't quite sure how to react. Is the girl joking? Does she really know where they are? It would be incredibly helpful if she does.
"Huh." She finally says, with a grim nod. "Well. We seem to be walking through an unusually dark and creepy forest, Lieutenant. Wait!" She does a double-take over her shoulder before nodding again. "Nope. It is, in fact, a dark and creepy forest."
Hicox stares at her for no longer than a moment. And then he starts laughing this laugh that lights up his eyes and makes his whole face shine. He just laughs, and Sander is feeling incredibly proud of herself for such an astute, witty comment that could make a Lieutenant laugh like that. Her own face glows back.
"No. Nu-uh. Call me Sander, or Arkov. Not 'Miss.'" Sander firmly insists. "I don't like that."
Hicox blinks. Still faintly grinning. "Of course. Sander it is."
"Is it short for Alexandria?"
Sander pulls face. "Hell no. It's Aleksandre. And they are not the same, so don't tell me that they sound similar, Hatter."
The Englishman raises his hands in a picture of dramatic surrender, eyes glinting amusedly. "I would never dare say such a thing. But it is a very lovely name anyways."
Sander rolls her eyes. But there's that pull in the left side of her face again , and she's grinning, however unwillingly, back. "No it isn't. It's a boy's name because that's what my parents were expecting. Then they had me. And the name didn't change."
"What a wonderful story."
And thus concludes the beginning of what happened to one unsuspecting girl, on one golden afternoon, when she tumbled down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Or something
Review if you like. But thank you for reading, anyways. ^^