Wow. Hey. Thanks for the reviews and alerts! Kinda surprised me that people liked the odd little one-shot so much. Well, this is another weird, pointless Basterd/Wonderland thing. A two-shot? Who knows?
It's not a dream. It can't be a dream. Because when Sander falls asleep later that night, she wakes up again and everything is still the same. She's curled up on a bed of cold, springy moss at the base of a large tree, deep in the thickets of a creepy French forest in this strange Wonderland. Oh, right. Well, she's still going to call it Wonderland, anyways. Because it's wonderful in its own, fucked way. Sort of. The Nazi part and the War part isn't so wonderful. But as she groggily sits up, rubs at her eyes, and fishes around the inside of her backpack for her box, her sleepy gaze falls on the figure across from her.
Hatter, um, Hicox, rather, apparently fell asleep last night with his back against a particularly oversized boulder. And still he slumbers on, even as the pale, rosy fingers of dawn start spilling down through the treetops and spilling over him. Makes his skin glow. His hair shine. The buttons on his jacket wink at Sander in a haze of heady silver.
She watches him with that pull in her face: an unwillingly smile crawling across her mouth as his head lolls back against the stone. His mouth slightly open. Snoring softly. Pistol clutched loosely in his hand, resting in his lap.
And Sander watches him for a few minutes, thinking that, maybe, this is wonderful. The silent forest. The glimmer of morning. And this strange Nazi-impersonating Englishman sleeping and snoring across from her.
Fine. So maybe it's not what you would call wonderful in the 'classic' sense of the word. . . . Her smile twitches into a scowl as her hand finally closes in around the slim white box, rattling around at the bottom of her bag. And maybe it's not what you'd call wonderful in any normal sense of the word at all. But really, Chuck. Hatter isn't so bad. You'd be proud at how much of an effort I'm making to be polite. . . .but shit. Being nice to really weirdo Englishmen is pretty hard fuckin' work, I'll tell ya. 'Specially with all of this other fucked up strangeness going on. She shakes her head and opens up the small compartment stamped with a T on the white box. Because it's still Tuesday, right?
It has to be Tuesday. Yesterday was Monday, so that makes today Tuesday. Right. And she really can't think anyway else, because if it's not Tuesday, well, she might be kind of screwed. Uh-oh. I hope I'm not stuck here for longer than a week, she muses worriedly, tilting her head back to swallow the bright array of reds and greens and little blue pills. Don't got enough for more than six days, and skipping my meds is bad, bad, bad. Chuck wouldn't like that. And I don't like doing it, either.
Sander polishes off the rest of her Lemon Lime Gatorade and tries, with moderate success, to push those concerns to the back of her head. Then she checks and rechecks her pack for any sort of snacks that might be hiding amidst her random assortment of belongings. Socks, flashlight, scrapbook, watch. . . .notebook. . . .some pencils. . . .and there's another pair of socks. . . . Dammit! I brought the striped green ones, and not the checkered green ones? What the hell was I thinking?!
Zipping up the bag, probably rougher than necessary, Sander's scowl deepens and she glares up at the misty smudges of treetops. So far above them, it's almost scary. Almost. Her stomach growls, and it sounds like a snarling monster in the stillness. There isn't even a breeze, not like yesterday. Which is good. Because French breezes are icy and unpleasant, and they smell like blood and metal.
Hicox mutters something as he stirs. Brows furrowing. A frown creasing his smooth skin. He looks so harmless. So innocent. Really, his good looks are incredibly distracting, and Sander doesn't like that. So she extends a foot over the remnants of their smoldering fire and gives his leg a kick. Nothing violent or mean like that, but just hard enough to wake him up. And he does. Wake. Immediately, and with a sudden, jerking motion of his neck, and that causes a resounding crack to break the silence. Closely followed by a pained groan on the Lieutenant's part as his free hand moves to massage the tender stretch of skin just above his collar bone.
Sander arches an eyebrow at him, refusing to watch the muscles and tendons in his throat flutter and flex beneath such a thin layer of flesh. Stupid handsome Englishmen. . . .stupid tensing neck muscles. . . . Hell. What the fuck is wrong with me?
"What a wonderful way to wake up." Hicox mutters. "I can't feel my legs; God, I hope they're still there." He winces as he stretches out his lithe limbs, and the action makes Sander so angry and uncomfortable that she climbs to her feet and turns around. Just so she doesn't have to look at him anymore.
"What's the plan for today, Hatter?" She asks brusquely, hands on her hips. Her dark eyes narrowed and staring off into the densely obscuring underbrush ahead, as if they could see straight through the dark and back out onto the dirt road. If we're even still following the road, thanks to Mister Versatility and his genius sense of direction, she snorts to herself.
"Good morning to you, too, sunshine." The Englishman chirps. "I'm so glad to see that at least you got a decent night's rest." More cracks and pops of stiff joints as he stands up and brushes off his clothes.
"Me? A decent night's rest?" Sander scoffs. "I barely sleep, and when I do, all I have are nightmares. Chuck says I've got to learn to relax more, but, really, relaxing is the last thing that I'm doing here in Wonderland. Not when we could get ambushed by Nazis and shot at any damn time." She shoots poor, bewildered Hicox a look. "Can you relax?"
Hicox blinks. And then he frowns and shakes his head. "I'm sorry, but what the hell are you talking about?"
Sander sighs. "It's okay. I mean, it's nothing. Never mind." Just shut up, Sander. Shut up and stop sounding crazy. People don't like it when you sound crazy, remember? That's how the police get involved, and Nazi Police are so much fuckin' worse than those rent-a-cops back home.
"No, it's all right." The Englishman assures her gently. He stops at her side and surveys her in concern. "You have nightmares?" His accent is like liquid sunshine, golden and shining and dripping off of his white teeth and congealing in her bloodstream like a kind of sweet, numbing anti-psycho drug. So unlike the kinds she's been taking every day for the last five years of her life.
And. . . .it doesn't feel. . . .bad. But that doesn't mean anything!
"Every time I close my eyes." She mumbles. Averting her gaze from those probing, fathomless blue eyes and shifting her feet uneasily. "Can we go on, now? I'm starving." And she doesn't wait for him as she plows on through the sticks and leaves with her neck prickling weirdly and the skin on her left arm burning from where the Englishman so lightly touched her, even through the thick material of her jacket.
Startled. And maybe hurt by her sudden hostility, Hicox frowns. He quickens his stride to catch up to her, shouldering his pack after managing to salvage some cured meat strips: AKA beef jerky, the right way to start off anyone's morning in the middle of Nazi-occupied France.
"I'm sorry, Sander. I know it's none of my business, and I didn't mean to pry. Don't be mad." He holds out a stick of jerky as a peace offering when he reaches her again. "Truce? I'll even let you ask some of the questions this time." A crooked grin. Those infuriatingly infuriating blue eyes.
Of course Sander isn't mad at him. And the fact that she can't be mad or stay upset at a man who looks like Hicox and sounds like Hicox and is as damn nice as Hicox is. . . .well that just makes her even madder. It's a horribly annoying, endless cycle, really. And it's giving her a bit of a headache as she thinks about it, which it shouldn't.
I do have to eat something with these pills, though. Chuck says it's not good to take straight meds on an empty stomach. Maybe that's where the headache is coming from. So, begrudgingly, Sander relents. She takes the jerky and finishes off her portion of it in about sixty eight seconds, before sorely wishing she had eaten it slower. Because she's still hungry.
"Thanks, Hatter." She mutters. He didn't have to share. And he did. People like him just don't exist anymore, do they? Not where I come from, at least. Chuck is a one in a million. I wish he was here right now. . . .
"Don't mention it. I was hardly going to stuff my face in front of you and not even offer." He smiles crookedly.
Sander has to blink to clear the fog clouding up her brain. When the Englishman gets all smiley like that, his eyes seem to shine more silver than blue. Like stars. All aglitter and swirling and. . . .and, um, huh. It must just be from the funny, slanting angle of the sun sliding through the trees. She clears her throat awkwardly and looks away.
"So, I get to ask the questions now, huh?"
Since she spent nearly all of their travels yesterday attempting to answer Hicox's persistent curiosity with. . . .honestly? With as much truth as she could, without giving too much about herself away in the process. And it was really damn hard, too. She's a good liar and usually, hell, she lies straight to people all of the time and could care less about it. Except Chuck. He's the only person she thought she could never lie to.
But looking at the Englishman with his wide blue eyes, so avidly fixed on her as she stammered out replies, was unnerving. Chuck gives her such devoted attention. And just Chuck. So why the hell is Hicox so interested in her? That's what really bothered her during his questioning. He just kept asking and asking and asking, and he never got bored or frustrated with her bizarre answers. And the stranger she answered, the more interested he became because, really, he wears his emotions as easily as she hides hers.
Shit. He's so easy to read that I can't read him at all. And what the hell kind of sense does that make? Sander's face falls back into its usual scowl. Man, I really wonder about myself sometimes.
An hour passes. Maybe two. The motley pair trade off on questions this time as the sun rises higher and higher. And, unaware of it happening, Sander finds herself actually beginning to relax around the Lieutenant.
Stupid, charming Englishmen.
At least he doesn't press the issue with her nightmares. Which is something she's grateful for.
"So. Hatter." She studies him with careful intensity, but tries not to stare too long into those unrealistically toned eyes. "What's an Englishman doing dressed as Nazi and parachuting into some obscure French city all by himself? Sounds like a suicide mission to me."
Hicox nods. And chuckles. "Fair enough. I'm surprised that this didn't actually come up sooner."
"I had more important things to ask first." Sander huffs defensively.
"Like whether or not I preferred to have spaghetti over lasagna on Thursday nights?" He arches his brows with an innocently widening grin. But she can see it: he's trying not to laugh at her right now. His shoulders are shaking a little from the effort of holding it back.
"Yes." Sander stiffly replies. And she might have 'accidentally' elbowed Hicox in the arm. "For your information, I really needed to know."
"Of course you did. I wasn't questioning that." He teases.
She scowls at the ground and kicks a small stone into the brush. "Are you going to answer me or not, chief?"
Hicox hesitates. For the first time since meeting him, the Englishman honestly looks a smidge uncomfortable. He tugs unconsciously at this collar, then readjusts his backpack. The trees are tapering out now. The forest, becoming more spacious, brighter with early afternoon light. Warmer. Friendlier. But Sander doesn't pay attention to any of that. She's watching the Lieutenant with unwavering inquisitiveness and not bothering to hide it.
Something big is going down in Wonderland. Why do I get that feeling? And why do I get the feeling that Hatter is a key part in it? Hmm. . . .
"I won't tell anyone." She insists earnestly. Eyes growing wide, as if to convey her point any clearer.
"It's not a question of you telling anyone or not, Sander." Hicox muses, as he runs a hand over his gleaming hair. "Because, despite your. . . .well, interesting quirks," he flashes her a grin, "you seem to be bizarrely trustworthy. But if we're ever captured by the German. . . .you would be responsible for potentially dangerous information that could endanger your life. No, this kind of information would end your life. And I can't risk that." His grin twists into a softer, sadder smile. "You're a nice kid. And I'm just sorry you got mixed up in all of this."
Sander bites the inside of her mouth and looks away. I'm not sorry, she thinks dully. This is scary, yeah, but it's also really exciting. I might die. But at least I might die alongside the first friend I've ever made on my own. And that means something. It really does.
"How about another question? In fact, I'll let you ask two in a row." Hicox offers, patting her shoulder. "Fair?"
"I don't have anymore." Sander shrugs. I know mostly everything I want to know, anyways. A film critic. A published author. A small family. Humbled and handsome and, wait. Dammit! She shakes her head with a scowl, and the poor Englishmen misinterprets the action and frowns.
"Come on. Don't be like that. . . . Alice."
Huh? Sander looks at him sharply, eyebrows vanishing into the mismatched bangs of her hair. And he's looking at her back quite innocently, his own brow quirked, with a slight, entertained twitch to his lips.
"What?" He lightly wonders. "If I'm the Hatter in this world, doesn't that make you Alice?"
Sander considers this. Then, she grins. She honestly gives the Englishman a grin back, and Hicox seems incredibly pleased by this.
"You believed me?" She presses incredulously. "Really? You're not just screwin' with me?"
Hicox's eyes are shining. "I don't think any kind of person but someone like you could fall down a rabbit hole and into Wonderland. So, yes. I think I do believe you." And he says it in such a way that, despite the suspicions gnawing in her head, Sander can't help but believe him, believing her.
Stupid, charming Englishmen, she thinks again. And this time, she thinks it with a big smile on her face.
Hope ya'll enjoyed this!